As a new university Soran aspires to make a difference both in the lives of its students as well as in the community as a whole. We believe that the impact of any university is ultimately reflected on the contribution it makes to the society starting from the local community. At Soran we try to strengthen the relationship between the students and their local community by engaging them in environmental, volunteering, or interpretation projects.
In May 2013 we held an environmental day event as part of our Respect our Mountains campaign in order to raise awareness on how to preserve the beauty of Soran and help prevent pollution and further destruction of its resources. For this project we partnered with the NGO Nature Iraq based in Sulaimaniyah to organize a RiverWatch activity.
Students under the guidance of NI’s project manager, Anna Bachmann, took water-quality readings and samples from three different locations around Soran and conducted a threat assessment at an urban stream at Alla Square, the Balakyan River before it enters Rawanduz Gorge, and a spring and water fall called Kani Maran in Rawanduz Gorge along the Hamilton Road.
Students were introduced to the major techniques of water testing and measuring pH levels, conductivity, TDS, oxygen, and nutrient sampling.
The conclusions drawn from NI’s collaboration with Soran Univeristy were summarized by A. Bachmann: “While economic and urban/commercial development is likely to occur in the area, better planning and support for infrastructure development should keep pace with this development […] the solution is stronger planning and investment in sanitation services for solid and liquid wastes”. The detailed report can be found at:
The event ended with a joint pledge to probe frequent testing of springs in and around the town as well as making sure residents are directly contacted and made aware of possible threats.
We have also conducted a pilot Clean Up event along Balakyan river. Students meticulously recorded and categorized environmental threats, while collecting garbage in teams of 6-7 members. The amount of garbage collected in just a few minutes is making us optimistic about future Cleaning Up projects around the area, especially picnic and recreational areas frequently visited by locals and tourists.
In 2013 Soran University joined forces with Leicester University in the UK establishing a research center which will scientifically record environmental damages and ecosystem modifications, trace poisonous gases and air-borne pollutants, test agricultural and industrial effluents, and ascertain water, soil, and air pollution levels.
Our overall aim is to identify and protect the local area from major threats, like uncontrolled commercial development, over-exploitation of natural resources, or geological alterations. More importantly, the outcomes of this research will feed the drafting of commercial operational guidelines that will ensure environmentally-friendly business practices and optimize natural resource management. Although the epicenter of this project is Soran city, its repercussions will be of national importance as there is no precedence for such guidelines nor has there ever been a systematic mapping of environmental threats before in this region.
The strategic collaboration of our faculty of science with Leicester University will bring together people with the right expertise that will ensure success of this endeavor. Furthermore, it also constitutes a valuable academic investment to our faculty of science as students and faculty will have the opportunity to engage in research of international standards.
As part of Soran’s commitment to the local community, the English department has undertaken a project of Medical Interpretation headed by professor A. Ioannidou. Although this project started as part of the Communication class for first-year students, it evolved to a community-centered project with several contributors. This is the first attempt to record English-to-Kurdish medical terms in a simple enough way so as every local can use it as well as every English speaker can pronounce the terms in Kurdish. The booklet is sponsored and endorsed by Soran University, which is the sole owner of this intellectual property and will be presented to different hospitals and other medical and dental facilities in Soran as well as the extended region and Erbil.
This kind of projects show students that the classroom is not a barren place, but it is closely interrelated to people’s lives, work, and personal advancement. Soran is continuously looking out for opportunities and ways to contribute to the local community trying to make a real difference in the region.