Skip to main content

24 November 2020

King's wins double at The Guardian University Awards 2020

King’s Civic Leadership Academy and air pollution communications campaign recognised in the annual awards


The King’s Civic Leadership Academy and a year-long communications campaign to bring to public attention the health impacts of air pollution have each won a Guardian University Award. The awards celebrate inspirational and ground-breaking projects from UK universities.

The King’s Civic Leadership Academy won in the Employability and entrepreneurship category and was recognised for its work placing undergraduate second-year students – most from groups underrepresented at university – into paid internships with local charities and community organisations. Alongside their internships, students received training in social leadership. Both the internships and training help build students’ confidence and enhance their employability.

In its first year, the Civic Leadership Academy worked with 18 community partners to provide internships for 50 students, 80% of which identify with two or more under-represented characteristics. The students completed 11,270 hours of service in the local community and have lead roundtable discussions on supporting over 50s in the LGBTQ+ community and hosted a conference on mental health.

The Civic Leadership Academy supported me in every possible way, especially during the intense training week in August with a series of events and talks to equip scholars with leadership skills. Being part of the first cohort of Civic Scholars has been an incredible journey. I would encourage any King’s students to apply as this is a fantastic opportunity to give back to our local communities.

Jasmine, King’s Civic Scholar and Geography student

In the Marketing and Communications campaign category, King’s was recognised for its Air Pollution communications campaign. This campaign drew on King’s research to bring to public attention the health impacts of air pollution as part of the university’s mission to serve society, both locally in London and around the world

To achieve maximum reach, with no funding, a year-long campaign was planned around specific research projects, journal publications and key dates, in collaboration with companies, government bodies and charities.

For the launch of the project, in March 2019, the university focused on research being carried out in schools, arranging a press launch in partnership with the Mayor of London at one of the schools involved so that teachers, parents and children were at the forefront of the press campaign. King’s partnered with the technology company Dyson, which had provided purpose-built technology for the research, to produce a video and with the Channel 4 Dispatches team.

The campaign also partnered with UK100 and joined up with 15 health and environment NGOs to present two further research stories on health impacts of air pollution and ran an exclusive with the Times on a further story about exposure to air pollution of commuters on the London underground.

The campaign achieved 3,884 pieces of media coverage, including two front-page stories. There were also nearly 7,250 social media and blog posts and 175 NHS doctors and staff cited King’s research in an open letter calling on the government to commit new funding and resources to the air pollution problem.

Both projects represent King’s commitment to serving our communities at home in London, across the UK and around the world.