2020 at Goldsmiths

In a year like no other, we look back at what Goldsmiths students, staff and alumni achieved in 2020.

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Our community responded to Covid-19

Our students, staff and alumni demonstrated their creativity and compassion as they responded to the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19 and its impacts on people across society.

Our colleagues organised protective equipment for NHS staff and worked with Goldsmiths Students’ Union to support local foodbanks.

Dr Giorgos Galanis from the IMS contributed to mathematical modelling which discovered that even short delays in social distancing measures had significant impacts on Covid-19 infection rates.

And Yvonne Field, lecturer in Community Studies wrote an open letter to the prime minister demanding an investigation into the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on BME communities.

Our finalists continued to share their creativity

It was another year of compelling Degree Shows from across our departments.

Social distancing made in-person shows more difficult this year, so many students took their end of year shows online, bringing their projects into our homes - with everything from a live-streamed music festival to online theatre performances.

BA Design student Isabella Akaleigh Jones explored the issue of memory loss, drawing on its possibilities as a site for creativity and learning; Theatre and Performance students Pinch Collective created an immersive Zoom experience for their final piece, while students from Computational Arts embarked on a four-day online festival.

And in September, 29 tonnes of carrots provoked a critical discussion and action when they arrived on campus as part of an MFA installation by Rafael Pérez Evans.

Emily Tokinshop-Sharp - Design BA 2020

We celebrated those completing their studies in new ways

Unable to hold graduation ceremonies on campus, teams across Goldsmiths worked together to organise a series of online events celebrating the achievements of our students.

Our Class of 2020 Celebrations in August and December brought together 1000 students to celebrate with their peers and teaching staff online. Messages from tutors paid tribute to the extraordinary resilience of Goldsmiths students in this challenging year.

Messages to Goldsmiths' Class of 2020

Our researchers continued to do ground-breaking work

Professor Michael Banissy explored global attitudes to touch, while Professor Alice Gregory contributed to research showing the link between sleep and teenage mental health.

Our researchers continued to place the public at the heart of their work and found innovative ways to deliver public engagement in a pandemic. Winners at this year’s Public Engagement Awards included John Drever’s London Street Noises and a project by Katie Rose Sanfilippo on music and maternal mental health in The Gambia.

Find out more about the projects at this year’s Warden’s Public Engagement Awards.

And staff were recognised as leaders in their field

March saw Dr Christienna Fryar, lecturer in Black British History, named as a New Generation Thinker by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. One of 10 early-career researchers on the programme, Dr Fryar pitched a piece exploring Black athletes who have inhabited both British and Caribbean identities.

Law’s Professor Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos was elected Master of the Bench of the Inner Temple, the highest office in the legal profession within the Inns of Court system.

Dr Christienna Fryar

We welcomed our first students onto MA Black British History

In October we began teaching the first cohort on our new MA Black British History, the UK’s first taught-postgraduate programme in Black British history.

Unlike most studies of Black history which focus on the US Civil Rights movement, the course focuses specifically on the Black British experience.

Find out more about the new MA in Black British History.

And celebrated fiction at its most novel, for the eighth year

November saw the eighth year of the Goldsmiths Prize, with a win for M. John Harrison’s The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again, a tale of broken life in Brexit Britain.

Chair of Judges Frances Wilson said: “M. John Harrison has produced a literary masterpiece that will continue to be read in 100 years’ time, if the planet survives that long.”

In the weeks before the Prize, Booker-winning author and Goldsmiths alumna Bernardine Evaristo gave the annual Goldsmiths Prize Lecture. She used the lecture to highlight the bias to “whiteness and maleness” in literature teaching.

We helped to make Lewisham a London Borough of Culture

In February our home borough of Lewisham was named Lewisham Borough of Culture for 2021. Teams from across Goldsmiths had worked closely with Lewisham Council to craft the winning bid, which included plans from the Department of History to commemorate important moments in the borough’s recent past.

During Lewisham’s Borough of Culture year - now scheduled for 2022 as a result of the pandemic - Goldsmiths researchers will work alongside local heritage organisations and creative practitioners to re-examine Lewisham’s history and share the stories of local people.

We’ll also play a central role in delivering a new Creative Futures programme, ensuring all Year 7 pupils have access to information about creative careers before selecting their GCSE subjects.

Battle of Lewisham mural

And made progress on a Green New Deal for Goldsmiths

July saw the launch of PLAN25, our roadmap to becoming a carbon neutral organisation by 2025.

The plan sets ambitious targets for Goldsmiths, including recycling 90% of our campus waste by 2025 and reducing the carbon intensity of our transport and travel by 50% by 2025. The College’s efforts on cutting carbon and ensuring a green recovery from the pandemic were recognised with two slots in the shortlist for the edie Sustainability Leaders Awards.

We also committed to enhancing the biodiversity of our campus and developing partnerships in our local community to help us contribute to a greener New Cross.

Find out more about our Green New Deal project.

Our students took home prizes

In November three students on our MA Radio course picked up prizes at this year’s BJTC Awards, with a further two students nominated. Emily Naylor, Steven Toner and Faizah Hakim took home the awards for Best Podcast Programme, Best Radio Documentary and Best Radio News Feature.

And PhD candidate David Heinemann won an AHRC Research in Film Award for his documentary Voices Apart, exploring speech and the representation of psychosis in cinema.

Pranciškus Brazdžiūnas as Mantas in Voices Apart

And our alumni continued to make waves in British arts and culture

Graduates Stan Greengrass and Maddy James saw their short film premiered at the BFI’s London Film Festival in October. Down There the Seafolk Live explores the impact of starting HRT for trans singers.

Composer Robin Haigh won an Ivor Novello Award in the Chamber Orchestral category for his piece Grin.

And Oscar-winning director and Goldsmiths alumnus Steve McQueen released a five-part BBC anthology exploring the lived experiences of Black Londoners. The Small Axe films highlight issues around racism, policing and education and have received critical acclaim.