What is public engagement?
The most widely accepted definition of public engagement is that given by the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE):
“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.” (www.publicengagement.ac.uk 2016)
This could take place at any part of the research lifecycle and should go beyond outreach and should instead focus on creating two way dialogue between researchers and the “public”. That could be as simple as incorporating an open discussion into a public lecture, but could be as detailed as doing a piece of research in partnership with the public. How you engage will be heavily influenced by what your research is about, and who is society that piece of research has the potential to impact. A good general recommendation however is to plan from the beginning how you will engage your stakeholders at different milestones throughout the project, and consider a mixture of both dissemination and more active engagement through the cycle of the project.
Who the “public” are, should vary depending on your research. You are unlikely to generate significant impact by collectively viewing people as the general public, however you may be more successful by considering instead who your research users may be and instead focussing on engaging those pockets of the public.
Public Engagement Funding
Ideally public engagement should be built into your initial funding bid as you should be planning your engagement from the conception of your project, however if this is not possible then there may be other avenues available to you.
Internally we have a public engagement budget from which you can request small amounts be used to fund small scale public engagement activity. There is only a limited amount available and it is at the discretion of the Public Engagement Officer how this is spent, prioritising activity being produced for events being run over the year such as our Festival of Learning on Tour events. If you apply to run one of these events there is usually funding available to you as part of this.
To sign up for notifications of external funding available for public engagement activity add the public engagement category to your research professional profile and you will be emailed regularly with updates on public engagement funding available.
Public Engagement Events
Festival of Learning
Festival of Learning runs annually and aims to showcase the best of BU’s research to the general public. To take part you will need to submit an application in the Autumn term as part of the call for events. Keep an eye on the research blog for notifications of when this will open, or email FoL@bournemouth.ac.uk to be request an email when the call opens. To find out more visit the Festival of Learning website.
Festival of Learning On Tour
As part of Festival of Learning on Tour we take engagement activities to wherever the public might be, throughout the year. Recent venues have included Glastonbury Festival, Christchurch Food Festival and the Bournemouth Natural Science Societies Family Open Day. If you have an idea for an activity for BU to take out on tour, or would just like to get involved in the fun, please contact our public engagement team to find out more.
Come and learn about the latest ideas in science and technology, all for the price of a cup of coffee or glass of wine! Taking place on the first Tuesday every month (expect January and August) at 7.30pm, join us at Cafe Boscanova for a fun, informative and friendly evening. To learn more visit the website or email the public engagement team.