Dr Vicky Mason tells us more about what Public Engagement is, and why it should be integral to life here at SPS.
“Having just returned from the second of three ‘Engage Academy’ workshops a public engagement (PE) themed blog post seems timely, but to start with what is public engagement?
“Public engagement describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit.” NCCPE (National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement)
The key aspects of the above definition are the ‘two-way process’ and ‘generating mutual benefit’ and for fantastic examples of such activities, even in the STEM disciplines, you can get inspiration from case studies on the NCCPE web page https://www.publicengagement.ac.uk/do-engagement/inspire-me/case-studies . You don’t have to look that far though, as even within SPS we have a few projects already that are great examples. One such project is HOYS-CAPS, a project which involves training amateur astronomers to give them the knowledge and skills to make a contribution to Dr Dirk Froebrich’s research. (facebook page link?).
The Engage Academy has had some excellent speakers highlighting the importance of, and their support for, PE. In the first session Jenni Chambers of UKRI discussed their stance on PE, which can be seen in their prospectus UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Strategic Prospectus (2018) “UK Research and Innovation Strategic Prospectus will ensure everyone in society benefits from world-leading research and innovation. It will create a research and innovation system that is fit for the future and equipped to tackle the environmental, social and economic challenges of the 21st Century.”
In the most recent session a representative from the Wellcome Trust gave details on their new strategy and the increasing importance of, and more importantly, the evaluation of PE.
So if you have an idea for a PE project have a look at the following links for funding opportunities which all have deadlines in the next few months, and let Dr Vicky Mason know.
- Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Fund https://wellcome.ac.uk/funding/public-engagement-fund £25,000 – £250,000
- STFC SPARK Awards https://stfc.ukri.org/public-engagement/public-engagement-grants/pe-funding-opportunities/stfc-public-engagement-spark-awards/ Up to £15,000
- STFC Nucleus Awards https://stfc.ukri.org/public-engagement/public-engagement-grants/pe-funding-opportunities/pe-nucleus-awards/
- IOP Public Engagement Grant Scheme http://www.iop.org/about/grants/outreach/page_38843.html Up to £3,000
- RSC Outreach Fund http://www.rsc.org/awards-funding/funding/outreach-fund/ Small up to £2,000 and Large up to £10,000
To finish the NCCPE have a very succinct description of what we should be aiming for.
“An engaged university does not treat public engagement as an ‘add on’ or fringe activity. It embeds public engagement into the way it approaches its work. Typically, engaged universities will have activities in place which incorporate public engagement into their research, knowledge exchange, teaching, and social responsibility.”
NCCPE (National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement)
I look forward to hearing from you and working on some more exciting PE projects.”