On Thursday 12th and Friday 13th June 2014 we held our first public engagement with research focused event. This was spread across two days and featured talks, training and networking opportunities that were open to all academic and administrative staff, as well as postgraduate students. The sessions were delivered by external organisations as well as internal staff and were based around the key elements of communication and collaborative working, as well as evaluating activities.

Thursday 12th June

Communicating Research

This session provided an introduction to the role of engagement, with an overview of infrastructure available in Birmingham as well as training on good practice.

Jon Wood delivered a session entitled Communicating Research: Training and Tips, which was especially well suited to those new to engagement activities. Russell Beale closed the morning session with Social Media and Research, which highlighted the uses of social media for researchers, the lifespan of messages on social media and top tips for researchers wishing to engage through social media.

Working with External Partners

This session explored notions of approaches to interacting with different audiences to deliver engaging work, examining different types of external partners and case studies. Speakers included:

  • Working with Business: Kate Jermey (Birmingham Business Club)
  • Working with Cultural Institutions: UoB Cultural Partnerships representatives, Ian Francis (Flatpack Festival)
  • Working with community and patient groups: Karen Doyle, Cancer Research UK Clinical Research Nurse
  • Working with media partners: Lucy Vernall (Ideas Lab)

Friday 13th June

Evaluating Engagement

This session explored methods for evaluating the effectiveness of the engagement activities undertaken.

Sophie Duncan and Paul Manners from the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement gave a lively presentation with interactive elements to illustrate the stages of effective evaluation. Kenny Webster, Learning Manager at Birmingham Museums, used case studies from Thinktank to highlight best practice for evaluating engagement and gave practical tips to ensure engagement is carried out effectively. Emily Hargreaves and Max Krafchik, UoB’s Research Planning Partners, finished the morning session with an overview of the work that had been carried out for REF 2014 and gave an insight into their current work and plans for the future regarding resources for researchers on impact.

The Future of Engagement in Birmingham

Professor Alice Roberts gave an inspiring presentation entitled The Storytelling Researcher, after which the winners of the video competition Less Talk, More Action were announced.

Drinks and nibbles were provided at our ‘Engaged Social’, an opportunity to informally network with our speakers and members of the Public Engagement Working Group, as well as other interested individuals and groups.