A great experience for the 2023 Morgan Institute Challenge winner

Winner of the 2023 Morgan Foundation Challenge trophy was Mali Jones

Mali Jones from Ysgol Gwent Is Coed

Amazing to learn about international relations and election forecasting

The Morgan Institute Challenge public speaking competition, which is held annually on the GwyddonLe stage at the Urdd Eisteddfod, has become one of the most popular events of the week. It is a competition that gives school pupils from years 11 to 13 the opportunity to present arguments for and against a hot topic in front of a live audience and leading critics in the field of policy and politics.

At the Carmarthenshire Urdd Eisteddfod, pupils from Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera Bro Dur and Ysgol Gyfun Gwent Is Coed went head-to-head to debate the statement "The concept of habitat cannot recognise the history of racism and diversity in Wales". The judges, Cefin Campbell MS, and Dr Angharad Closs Stephens from Swansea University’s Geography Department, had a difficult task to identify a winner but Mali Jones from Ysgol Gwent is Coed was awarded the trophy for winning the competition's best speaker.

In addition to winning a monetary prize for the school, Mali’s prize consisted of work experience of her choice organised for her by Academi Hywel Teifi. Mali’s interests lie in politics, international relations, and forecasting elections therefore, it was arranged for her to spend a day in the company of Dr Matthew Wall, Head of the Department of Politics, Philosophy, and International Relations.

Mali spent a full day on Singleton campus and took part in several interesting activities, including being part of a seminar for the Elections and Voting course where students presented and discussed the ideas they have generated for their essay and podcast assessments. Mali assisted Dr Wall to prepare and deliver a lecture on research methods for postgraduate students and watched final year students from the election forecasting group on the Researching Politics course, rehearse their assessed presentations and receive feedback.

Dr Wall said: "It was a busy day and Mali was very engaged and involved, particularly when brainstorming ideas with me for an 'impact' research proposal I’m working on which will create a podcast series focusing on the 2024 US Presidential Election campaign, based on an election forecasting tournament. Mali and I discussed her insights into using social media, developing links and engagement opportunities with influencers, and appealing to politically interested young people. Mali was really enthusiastic and bright, and it was my pleasure to welcome her to the Department."

Mali said of her experience: "It was such a privilege to be in the company of Dr Matt Wall from Swansea University to discuss a career in politics. It was an amazing experience to be able to attend a lecture on international relations, and two seminars on election forecasting. We also had an extremely interesting discussion on his project 'What are the odds?' and the ways to promote it to a wide variety of people. My favourite part of the day was the experience of being a student with a lecturer from the University. On the one hand I had the opportunity to watch Dr Wall complete work and prepare for his lectures, but on the other hand I was encouraged to join seminar groups to discuss and ask questions about politics and democracy. It was a golden opportunity to get a taste of university life, and I learned so much about the importance of technology within democracy, information that I can include in my Welsh Baccalaureate project this year. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Dr Wall and Swansea University for this incredible opportunity."