What does the name 'shopfront' mean?
The name "Shopfront" originates from European Shopfronts - or Science Shops - which traditionally sought to connect university knowledge with local citizens. The concept has since developed to recognise the importance of local knowledge, and therefore the contemporary shopfront is much more of a complex, mutually beneficial exchange than a one directional service. UTS Shopfront is a member of the International Science Shop Network.
How is Shopfront connected with UTS?
We are an official unit within UTS, as part of the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion. We work across all of the UTS faculties.
I'm interested in working with Shopfront, but I'm not sure how. Where can I find out how I can get involved?
We love hearing from different people. Take a look at our Work with Shopfront page to find out how you best might work with us.
Who do you work with?
Shopfront tries to work where we will be having the most impact. This has meant that, over the years, we have prioritised smaller, less funded, community-based organisations on projects that will have lasting impact for the organisation and associated communities. The term community is used broadly to refer to formal community organisations, peak bodies or groups drawn together on an issue or interest.
How do you decide which projects are offered to students?
The three key questions that we ask about when assessing a project is: Does it address an identified need? It is achievable in the timeframe? Do students have/or are learning the right skill set to deliver the project?
What type of projects can students do?
We do a lot of different types of projects across many disciplines and organisations. For some examples of projects we've done in the past, please see our Completed Projects page. However, we try to be flexible and adapt to address community need - if your project is different to those already listed, that's not necessarily a problem! The best way to decide whether your project is suitable is to contact us.
How much does it cost?
The program is free.
How do I keep informed projects, deadlines and other Shopfront activities?
Sign up to the Shopfront e-newsletter by sending your contact details here.
How much time will I need to commit to the project?
We recommend that you dedicate two hours a week to your student project. It's likely that this will fluctuate, with a bigger time commitment at the beginning and end of the project, and less time in the middle, but we encourage you to have regular contact with your student or student team and where possible meet regularly.
Do we have to have DGR (charity) status to be involved in a project?
No. We work with a broad array of organisations, that includes both those with DGR and those without DGR status.
Do you do regional or interstate projects?
The student projects are confined to Sydney metropolitan area exceptions will be considered if they are technologically based and not cost prohibitive.
How does Shopfront manage issues around insurance for students?
All students undertaking work as a component of their coursework are covered under the University’s public liability. You may be asked to complete a form depending on the requirements of the subject.
Am I eligible?
Community projects are undertaken during semester by final year or postgraduate students who are enrolled in a placement or internship subject in their course. If you are not sure, please call and ask us on 9514 2900.
What projects could I work on?
There are new projects listed by UTS Shopfront every semester. All have been initiated by community organisations based on real community needs.
Have a look at the available projects - which includes a 'sign-up' function. Remember, Shopfront community projects are allocated on a 'first-in, first-gets' basis, so if there's something there that takes your fancy, grab the opportunity to register your interest right away.
Who supervises my project?
Your academic supervisor oversees the project and provides assessment of your work. You will need to have your supervisor's approval before you can start work on a project.
What support does Shopfront provide?
The staff at Shopfront will provide ongoing support and expert advice for your project throughout the semester. At your request - if you feel it is needed - Shopfront will also provide specialist training in community project management, cultural sensitivity and ethics.
We will also assist you to access University and industry expertise to support your project as well as providing work space, meeting rooms and organising project equipment such as transcribers, recorders and videos.
What is expected of me?
There are a few formalities we expect you to commit to as part of your involvement with a UTS Shopfront community project, these are:
- Attend meetings with community organisation and present your final outcomes to them
- Produce a project plan - including timelines, deadlines and client meeting schedules - and have the community client sign-off on the plan before hand-in to your academic supervisor
- Identify any additional training needs associated with your project and inform Shopfront
- Undertake the project as defined in your project plan.
- Advise Shopfront immediately should any difficulties with the project be encountered
- Provide your community client and Shopfront with both a hard copy and a digital copy of project outcome(s) (final report, designs, plans etc)
- Complete evaluations at the end of the project
- Keep track of any project costs or expenses for reimbursement.
These are part of our Roles and Responsibilities for all project stakeholders (including community organisations, academics and Shopfront).
Is there someone I can talk to about projects?
We'd be happy to answer any questions you have about projects. Please send us an email.
How do I sign up to do a Shopfront project?
Projects are primarily done through coursework subjects, and there is a different process for each subject. There is sometimes an opportunity to work on projects outside of coursework subjects, if the student has relevant skills and capacity to complete the project. Those projects can be seen on our Available Projects page. If you are interested in doing any of these projects, please contact us!
I'm doing community based research - how can I become more involved in Shopfront?
Shopfront is very interested in students - and staff - who are conducting community engaged research. We may be able to offer support, either through partnership development of publishing quality work in our Student Monograph Series, or even our Journal, Gateways. Please contact us - we'd love to hear about what you are doing!
How do I work with my community client?
You will be assigned a liaison person within the organisation you will be working with over the course of the project. Part of what makes working on community projects so valuable is the regular contact you have while developing your projects. It's important to remember that your participation has real world consequences, not only in terms of the projects you complete, but also the relationships you build along the way.
How do I keep informed about community projects?
We update available, in progress, and completed projects regularly on our Community Projects page.
How will a Shopfront project benefit me?
Many students talk about their time in Shopfront projects as challenging periods of personal and professional growth. Shopfront projects are widely recognised by graduates as an integral part of their career development. Because projects align with faculty expertise, students who do Shopfront projects learn how to apply their degree-specific knowledge in complex situations. Projects also have real-world outcomes which, as well as having the feel good factor of supporting under-resourced communities, contributes to students' professional portfolios. They can also be a lot of fun!
Can I bring my own idea for a community project?
Unless this project is part of an organisation you have started or are actively involved in managing then: no. An important part of the Shopfront model is ensuring that projects are community directed. While the community sector is underfunded, it is made up of people who are experts in their own communities. Often projects that are started without community consultation don't address the real needs of the community. Please check out the projects on our Available Projects page - they're all community directed!