Dr Helen Manns, Director Of The Institute Of Science And Environment

Helen Manns

Image Caption: Dr Helen Manns, Director Of The Institute Of Science And Environment


What do you do and what motivates you to work in this field? 

“I’m Director of the Institute of Science and Environment at the University of Cumbria. It’s quite a diverse institute that covers everything from forestry, outdoor studies, geography, and conservation, through to zoology and biomedical science. My background is in environmental management so a bit removed from medicine! I have a lifelong passion for dealing with anything to do with environmental issues and sustainability. It’s the field that I’ve always worked in, either as a practitioner or as an academic. I have, however, spent many years working in higher education covering a number of different portfolios. In a former role as Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching, for example, I was involved in developing a partnership with an international medical school, and as Head of International Development I have lots of experience of partnership working.”


Why did you get involved in the cumbria school of medicine project?  

“Probably a very different perspective! I bring a lot of years of knowledge of working in higher education and some of the challenges the sector faces. In the past, I’ve worked in learning and teaching, so have a strong quality background. I have also worked in partnership development, working collaboratively with a range of organisations – both UK and international – so I have that collaborative development background that I can contribute. I also bring a wider university strategic positioning perspective.”


What are your aspirations for the school? 

“It’s going to make a massive difference to Cumbria, not just in the practical sense of developing people who will go into medicine and stay within Cumbria, but also by raising aspirations within the county. We have low progression rates to higher education in Cumbria; even if people don’t want to become medics hopefully the medical school will raise aspirations generally. I think the School will also contribute enormously to the University. Having additional numbers on campus will really help to develop the vibrancy around the University, and bringing a whole new discipline creates exciting opportunities for collaborations between colleagues. It’s the spinoffs that really excite me, what the medical school can do for the region, city and the University itself.”


What should prospective students expect? 

“They can expect a bespoke curriculum that is very much focused on regional needs. I think that will be quite unique. The idea of integration into the county and the feeling of belonging will also be key. There’s a real sense of excitement in the county about having the students here. Students can also probably expect more integration with other health professions than they might get at medical schools elsewhere, as interprofessional learning has purposefully been built into the curriculum. Opportunities to interact with students from other disciplines will also be greater than you may get at other medical schools that are bigger and more self-contained. There is also the unique location that Cumbria offers with a blend of urban and amazing rural locations.”