Public Engagement Resources
All the School’s members are signatories of the Manifesto for Public Engagement, showing a commitment to meaningful public engagement. Just like public involvement, public engagement can occur through the research cycle to gain input from the public and disseminate research outcomes.
Before you get started you will want to think about what you want to achieve through public engagement. Different goals often require different approaches. Some questions you might want to think about include:
- What do you want to achieve? (e.g. raise awareness, spark curiosity, change attitudes, share skills)
- Who do you want to engage with? (is it a large or small group of people?, is it people with a specific lived experience or the general public?)
- What are the main messages I want people to take away?
The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement has developed a quick guide to developing high quality public engagement which helps to guide you through the process of planning, running and evaluating a public engagement activity.
Type of activities
A public engagement activity can stand on its own or be used as a mean to lead to involvement by establishing links with the public before a research project begins.
There is a wide range of engagement activities. Engagement activities can aim to inform the public, consult them or work with members of the public.
There are also guidance available for specific engagement activities, such as creating an engagement space in an empty shop.
The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement provides supporting information for various engagement methods.
Running an engagement activity
In order to hold an engagement event, you have to create an engagement plan. The first steps in planning your engagement event is identifying your audience, what the (key) messages are you want to engage with, how you would like to engage and what are your measures of success.
There are various other elements to take into account when planning an engagement event, such as your budget and venue. You can consider working with partners, such as artists or local community groups, to make your event more creative, accessible and approachable for your target audience.
Evaluating your activity
It recommended to include evaluation plan and make references to your plan when evaluating the activity. The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement has written a blog on evaluating public engagement activities and shares various resources to evaluate your engagement activities.
Join an existing engagement event
There are a number of organisations running engagement events throughout the year, and they often look for academic volunteers to run activities.
If you would like to develop an event as part of a bigger science programme or contribute at an engagement event you can check the following websites:
There are many national campaigns and awareness days of various disease areas. You could consider partnering up with others to support these campaigns.
SCIENCE - ART COLLABORATIONS
Especially within public engagement, you could consider working with an artist to make your research accessible, provide alternative ways of visualising your outcomes and reach new audiences. THIS Institute has published "Arts-based engagement: a guide for community groups, artists and researchers". There are also blogs, organisations you can reach out to about science-art collaborations (such as Design Science) and various examples and inspiration can be found on X (formerly known as Twitter) when looking for #sciart.
If you are keen to inspire and engage with a younger audience, you can become a STEM ambassador. STEM ambassadors bring STEM subjects to life and demonstrate the value of them in life and careers by engaging with young people inside and out of the classroom.