Opinion Pieces

In this section we invite thought-provoking and informative opinion pieces on the state of public engagement at all levels, be that within the University or nationally. Stories may include tips brought back from external training sessions or conferences, insights and inspiration from innovative public engagement events that have been attended, advice on how to link up public engagement with complementary initiatives and tips on how to secure public engagement funding.

If you’d like to write an opinion piece get in touch!

Did you know that the Think: Public Engagement with Research blog helped change the University’s stance on blogs? Now many blogs are hosted through the University itself. One of these is the Think Research blog run by Research Planning. Here you can find public engagement stories and other useful content from colleagues leading on (REF) impact and metrics.

Who are Research Planning?

Research Planning lead the institutionally important work on Impact for the Research Excellence Framework and Open Access compliance. The Public Engagement with Research Officer sits within this team, as public engagement is increasingly understood as being a significant pathway to impact.

See stories / opinion pieces below.

How universities create engagement through place: a shared language and a shared location.

By Kyle Smith, Communications Manager in the International Development Department

To understand the crucial role universities play in engagement – be it public, policy or civic engagement – we need to first explore how universities operate in partnership with their local communities. We may discover that these three types of engagement all happen in the same way. We may also discover that universities invest resources in simply marketing and broadcasting their core messages regarding recruitment, research and resource and not focusing on the underlying two way relationship which engagement requires.

Graphic Engagement: Notes on a ‘new’ method of engagement with research

By Caroline Gillett, Research Engagement Officer

Just before close of 2018, we ran our ‘Graphic Engagement’ event – the first in a brand new series of CREATIVE ENGAGEMENT workshops organized by the Public Engagement with Research team. This series aims to showcase how innovative collaborations between researchers and other artists, creatives, makers, end-users and enthusiasts can open doors to engaging new audiences with the amazing work that researchers do. Our first workshop looked at how graphic art, design and illustration can be used as a tool to engage the public with university research and we heard from four University of Birmingham researchers working with this varied method. Importantly, we chose to showcase researchers who were each at different stages of the process, with some just starting out, whilst others were building on previous work that had been successful. This way we hoped attendees would get a feel for how long projects can take to develop, as well as what the different stages of the process might entail.

Engage 2018 – Notes from the NCCPE’s 10th birthday bash

By Caroline Gillett, Research Engagement Officer

At the very end of November 2018 the core PER team (Leah Fitzsimmons and myself, Caroline Gillett) travelled up to Edinburgh for what was the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement’s (NCCPE) 10th birthday year and their 10th ENGAGE event. For those who don’t know, ENGAGE is the annual conference for public engagement enthusiasts and professionals, lovingly organized each year by the NCCPE and historically always held in Bristol, making this year a rather special affair in Edinburgh’s majestic Assembly Rooms. The conference always sells out fast and the mix of attendees tends to be predominantly public engagement professionals from universities far and wide (including Canada, Thailand, India etc.) as well as other professionals from charities and the cultural sector. However, more and more community organization representatives are joining which is great to see and there has been a bursary scheme in place previously to aid the participation of those who might otherwise be unable to come. This year’s conference theme was ‘Facing the Future’. It was obviously a great excuse to see Catalyst Seed Fund friends, funders and of course public engagement stalwarts Sophie Duncan and Paul Manners, who together co-direct the NCCPE. In addition to being at the conference and hearing about all things new, our team had two additional reasons for being there this year…