Kent Public Engagement Research Network

The KPERN is a voluntary and informal network of staff at Kent who share a passion for public engagement with research.

For information or support, please contact your KPERN representative or Maddy Bell in Research Services at

All research/professional services staff and students interested in engagement with research are invited to join informal communities of practice sessions in the coming academic year. Members of the Kent Public Engagement with Research Network (KPERN) will be sharing their experiences and wisdom from across a spectrum of engagement activities in 4 themed lunchtime sessions. We are also lucky enough to be hosting an external expert on evaluation of engagement activity in a half-day workshop.

These sessions will also provide space and time to mix with others, support peers, and share ideas on engagement plans.

To register, please email Maddy Bell at confirming which session/s you wish to join (subject to space). The sessions will be held on the Canterbury campus.

Bring your lunch, challenges, and ideas!

Session 1: Dr Amanda Bates: Patient & Public Involvement (PPI)
Tuesday 8th October 1-2pm 2019

Dr Amanda Bates, Patient Experience and Public Involvement Lead for the Centre for Health Services Studies (CHSS) will talk us through what PPI is (and what it isn’t!), why it is crucial, and how its approach can be transferable outside of the healthcare research field. She will reflect on the challenges of managing PPI in research and how they can best be addressed.

Session 2: Kasia Senyszyn: Working in parternship with external partners
Wednesday 6th November 1-2pm 2019

Kasia Senyszyn, a School of Arts PhD student specialising in accessibility in theatre, has been working with Sun Pier House (SPH) in Medway, on the ‘Open Arts My Self’ project. Project artists from SPH will join Kasia to talk about how the collaboration came about and what it has involved, how it worked in practice, experiences of working across very different organisations, and lessons learned from the whole process.

Session 3: External expert Jamie Gallagher: Evaluating Engagement
Half day workshop Wednesday 29th January 2020 (time to be confirmed)

Jamie Gallagher is an award winning and nationally recognised engagement professional and trainer, specialising in evaluation of the impact of engagement activity. After an overview of the engagement with research landscape, Jamie will move on to evaluation: the what, why and how. Participants will be supported to work on their own engagement and evaluation plans during the workshop.

Session 4: Laura Thomas-Walters: Innovative methods of engaging the public with research
Monday 10th February 2020 1-2pm

Laura Thomas-Walters, a PhD student in Conservation Biology, commissioned her PhD quilt as a visual and tactile representation of the breadth of research undertaken at Kent. Laura worked with the Canterbury Quilters Society to produce the quilt, subsequently winning the Graduate School’s Postgraduate Community Experience Award. Laura will talk through the development of this innovative method of engagement, and where it will take her next.

Session 5: Dr Helen Brooks and Professor Mark Connelly: Gateways to the First World War – a plethora of engagement activity
Wednesday 4th March 2020 1-2pm

Between 2014 and 2019, Gateways to the First World War was funded by the AHRC to support public engagement with the centenary of the First World War. In this session Dr Helen Brooks, a Reader in Theatre and Cultural History, and Mark Connelly, Professor of Modern History, will reflect on their experiences of a diverse range of public engagement activities: from talks and workshops to performances and lecture-concerts. They will discuss the ways in which they worked with community groups both as advisors and in developing participatory researcher projects, and reflect on the challenges and possibilities of this kind of work.