Are you a PhD student or early career researcher? Are you interested in getting involved with public engagement but are unsure how to communicate your research effectively? If so, come along to an introductory workshop to learn valuable skills to get you started with public engagement!
The workshop is a 3 hour interactive session designed by UoB researchers for UoB researchers. It aims to develop and build upon some of the essential skills necessary to deliver research effectively to the public. The brief aims of the workshop are:
Meet PhD students/ECRs from across the University and find out about the public engagement they do.
Explore what public engagement with research means and develop useful skills through interactive group activities and discussions.
Network with others and learn about opportunities for you to get involved.
Deepen your understanding of public engagement with research.
Learn essential skills/techniques which can be applied for your own public engagement.
Identify your skills and think about next steps or further training to take you forward.
The workshop is open to postgraduate and early career researchers from all Colleges and will be based at N334 in the Gispert Kapp building on Wednesday 24th February 2016 from 1-4pm.
To reserve your place, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Revealing Research Workshop’ in the title. Please also include your name, position (e.g. 2nd Year PhD, Postdoc), School/department and your College.
The workshop has a limited number of spaces so registration is essential and will be on a first-come basis.
The Pay-it-Fwd cohort has written a short piece for the January 2016 BIG newsletter describing their experience of the training they received at the ‘How to Train Researchers in Public Engagement’ workshop held in Newcastle in November 2015.
How to Train Researchers Workshop: Reflections from University of Birmingham’s Pay-it-Fwd cohort!
Caroline Gillett, University of Birmingham
The University was recently awarded the RCUK Catalyst Seed Fund to create momentum for culture change around PE at the institution. Our bid placed a clear emphasis on training and workshops for our researchers and as part of this I’ve decided to pilot a small-scale project that was a little different. Having already been impressed by the Little Event 2014, when I heard about the How to Train Researchers Workshop in Newcastle I knew I wanted to go, but I wanted to give others the opportunity to come too! This is how the ‘Pay-it-Forward with Public Engagement Programme’ was born.
A callout for five researchers enthusiastic about PE was sent out across the University and we received lots of interest, making it a hard task for the University’s Public Engagement with Research Committee (PERC) to select our cohort. However, I am really happy with the researchers we selected as together they span the breadth of our University’s research disciplines from arts and humanities through to social, medical, physical and life sciences.
Also joining us on this venture is colleague and sci-comm maverick Jon Wood whose involvement with the pilot has been real asset thanks to his vast PE experience and can-do attitude. The Pay-it-Forward programme has two stages.:
Stage 1: Training – All seven of us got trained at the BIG How to Train Researchers Workshop!
Stage 2: Paying-it-Fwd – Our researchers will bring back the activities and training learned to together develop a practical public engagement workshop for UoB staff and students in early 2016, putting the training they have received at the BIG workshop in to real world practice and paying-it-forward to fellow colleagues and students.
Personally, I found the training day incredibly useful and it was a fantastic opportunity to meet other practitioners. More importantly though here’s what our researchers had to say:
Ruth Wareham: “I approached the BIG event with a modicum of trepidation; as someone whose science education ended some time ago, and with a background firmly rooted in the arts and humanities, I wasn’t entirely sure how well I’d fit in with a room full of self-professed ‘STEM Communicators’! I needn’t have worried – the event was informative, interesting and lots of fun. Perhaps more importantly, all of the activities suggested could be used in a range of disciplinary contexts. The presenters had clearly thought carefully about the sessions and adapted them to suit the experience level and needs of the delegates.”
Elizabeth Randall: “I came to the BIG workshop with no experience of training researchers in public engagement…I felt somewhat lacking in confidence at the start of the day but after talking to a number of people about what makes a good trainer I now feel well-equipped to design and deliver a workshop to researchers at my university.”
Sophie Cox: “At the start of the training session I put myself at the bottom of the cohort when asked our levels of confidence to train others in public engagement. By lunch I’d taken some steps forward and at the end of the day I’d leapfrogged my way to the top and was bursting with enthusiasm to get started with bringing loads of inspiring ideas back to the University”
Katherine Eales: “As a doctoral researcher I am still at an early stage in my career and so it was great to get the opportunity to network with such a diverse range of experienced PE communicators. I also am thankful for the Pay-it-Forward scheme as I got to meet and work with some great and diverse researchers from UoB whom I wouldn’t necessarily have got to engage with! I am really looking forward to using the skills I gained at the BIG workshop to develop and deliver our introductory workshop to a wide range of graduate and early career researchers!”
So there you have it! To find out how we get on in Stage 2 check out our blog and follow us on Twitter @UOBengage. Big thanks to BIG, all those who shared tips and tricks at the event and the others we met there.
Thanks to everyone who expressed an interest in participating in our Pay-it-Forward with Public Engagement pilot. We received lots of interest but sadly we could only pick five of you to take part this time around. PERC were really impressed by all the candidates that got in touch and we are already thinking about how we can involve everyone who got in touch in future activity, so don’t be disappointed if you didn’t make it this time! Other opportunities will be revealed soon…
Congratulations to the five researchers who will be paying-it-forward with public engagement!
Having completed my undergraduate and PhD in Engineering I moved to the University of Birmingham in 2014, bringing my passion for public engagement with me. Since, I have become a STEM Ambassador and through their network I have connected with a number of local schools to deliver hands-on and career based activities.
In the past, I have worked as a mentor for the International Gateway for Gifted Youth, an online global educational social network designed to help young people reach their full potential. For a number of years I also helped establish and organise the first royal academy engineering summer school at the University of Warwick. This scheme involved lots of really fun hands on activities that I hoped helped to inspire the next generation of engineers!
I’m really excited to have been selected for the Pay-it-Forward scheme and can’t wait to get started!
I’m Elizabeth and I’m a PhD student in the PSIBS doctoral training centre here at UoB. My project involves developing new chemical imaging methods for use in pharmaceutical research.
After completing my undergraduate degree in chemistry I decided to continue my studies in the interdisciplinary field of biomedical imaging. It’s a very exciting area and one that is easy to talk to people about – most people know about MRI and CT scanners in hospitals.
I became a STEM ambassador 3 years ago and have since taken part in events like ‘meet the scientist’ at the Birmingham ThinkTank. I also supervised 2 secondary school pupils on a week-long project which introduced them to the work at our lab, let them carry out a small research project and gave them an idea of what it would be like to work as a research scientist. Showing younger people what science is really about is my favourite part of public engagement – and perhaps also dispelling some misconceptions along the way.
Finding alternative ways to explain things is of particular interest to me. As a spare-time artist and writer I have produced artwork for exhibitions about scientific research and written articles for university and national publications including the ‘Access to Understanding’ organisation.
I’m looking forward to getting involved with the Pay-it-Forward scheme and hope to contribute some different ideas!
Hello, my name is Shardia. I am a second year PhD researcher at the University of Birmingham. I am currently researching in the field of Gender and Development focusing on Masculinity, Sexuality and HIV/AIDS related Stigma and Discrimination. My other areas for research include Gender & Development, HIV/AIDS related stigma and discrimination, Disability studies, sexual health and young people.
I am currently writing an article for the European Journal of Political Science (EJPS) on ‘Challenges facing minority PhD Politics students: women, BME groups and disabled people. I am a member for the Political Science Association’s Equality and Diversity committee. Being part of this group led me on to becoming a research assistant for the BME Ambassador project at the University of Birmingham were at present I co-ordinate the peer mentor scheme. #mentoringisgreat
Along side my studies I am employed by the Terrence Higgins Trust, a national HIV and Sexual Health charity, where I works as sex and relationship education (SRE) co-ordinator in the Midlands. I recruits, train and support young people in to becoming Peer Ambassadors in Sexual Health (yes I get to talk about sex all day). I am currently planning a Young People’s Sexual Health Conference which will be held in February 2016.
I am the Co-Founder of GEMS (Gender Empowerment Movement); a community interest company who conducts workshop, events, research and consultations to engage and empower young people in the community on issues such as domestic violence, child sexual exploitation, girls and gangs, self-esteem, human rights & democracy, etc.
I am really looking forward to getting involved in this initiative and can not wait to start planning and most importantly engaging the public.
Hello! I’m Kat and I am currently in my second year of my PhD in the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research at UoB. My research is primarily in cancer research and investigates into the role of a signalling pathway within the progression of type of brain tumour.
After completing a Biochemistry degree and research assistant post in Neuroscience, I moved to Birmingham in 2013 to start a 4 year MRes/PhD course. After completing the MRes year I decided that the area of cancer research is my heart lies as it such a valuable research area and one in which the public is so engaged with.
I believe that public engagement is such an important part of being a scientist in gaining public awareness of our research and building a great relationship with the general public. I became a STEM ambassador when I started my PhD and have so far participated in engagement activities such as being a judge for the NSEC competition at the Big Bang Fair West Midlands and also various events with Cancer Research UK such as hands on creative activities making ‘cell badges’ and ‘meet the expert’ at Birmingham ThinkTank. I love engaging with young people about science and will hopefully help to inspire the next generation of scientists!
I am really looking forward to participating in the Pay-it-Forward scheme and can’t wait to bring back some exciting engagement ideas and activities to share with fellow UoB researchers!
Ruth is a doctoral researcher in philosophy of education. Her main research focus is the legitimacy of faith-schools but, as a former primary school teacher, her interests extend to a variety of subjects relating to the philosophical nature of education.
Ruth completed her BA and MPhil in philosophy at Birmingham (1999-2004) before going on to train for a PGCE on Nottingham University’s SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) in Outstanding Primary Schools. She returned to the University to undertake a PhD and left teaching for a career in Higher Education in 2011.
Through her varied experience of working in HE and mainstream compulsory education, Ruth has been involved with a wide range of public engagement projects and initiatives. These include: running philosophy workshops in schools on behalf of The Philosophy Foundation and The Royal Institute of Philosophy; working with the University’s outreach team and with the College of Arts & Law to participate in and organise Discovery Days, Taster Sessions and 6th Form Study Afternoons; running events as part of the University’s Arts & Sciences Festival and Community Day; and using social media platforms (such as Twitter and blogs) to increase engagement with the research of staff and students.
One of Ruth’s current projects is hoping to address public engagement in the arts and humanities and she is very much looking forward to seeing how her involvement with the Pay-It-Forward programme can help to address issues in disciplines other than science.
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