Festival of Learning 2016: Call for Expressions of Interest- Now Open!

As one Festival of Learning ends, another one arises. The call for expressions of interest for FOL 2016 is now open – this is just the idea stage and is your opportunity to say that you’d like to be considered bubblesfor next year.

Over the past few years the Festival of Learning has had circa 5,000 visits. To further this success in 2016, we need you to host lectures, workshops and debates (or whatever type of engaging activity you can think of) showcasing our fantastic knowledge base at BU.

Why get involved?

  • It is a great opportunity to celebrate life at BU and share your passion with a different audience.
  • It can add fresh perspective to your research. Read this article about how public engagement can help you think about your research from a fresh perspective.
  • It can change people’s lives. Here in the Festival office we have been moved by members of the public telling us about how the Festival has helped reignite a passion for learning, helped support the growth of the charity and even helped people to walk barefoot on a beach for the first time in years.
  • It is a great networking opportunity. Colleagues involved in the Festival in previous years have developed partnerships which have, for example, led to collaborative PhD studentships.
  • It is fantastic for skills development. Especially for early career researchers, the Festival offers an unprecedented opportunity to develop communication techniques which engage members of the public and builds confidence in communicating complex ideas (essential for a future lecturing career!)
  • It helps to meet the expectation of funders and policy makers. The European Commission, HEFCE and our Research Councils (amongst others) expect researchers to demonstrate to the public the value of their research. The Festival provides of a great vehicle to do this as you will receive central support (e.g. for marketing) rather than going it alone.
  • It can support student recruitment. And not just undergraduates, but those looking for postgraduate courses and short courses who have never before considered BU as a potential place to study.


Stuck for Ideas?

We had some fantastic events at this year’s festival. Why not have a look at the website to see the kinds of things that went on. Listed below are some of the favourite events from 2015 that demonstrated some innovative and tactful ways to engage the public with research.

  • Zombie Science was a series of fun and interactive sessions looking into the causes of disease and infection control.
  • Jurassica was an event for children to learn about the incredible Jurassic Coast on our doorstep and an opportunity for them to create their own individual work of art to take home.
  • Improve your teamwork was an event that was ideal for individuals and businesses wanting to learn more about how individuals operate in teams, develop an understanding of team roles and ultimately, improve performance.
  • The cyber security awareness workshop gave attendees a chance to learn about the latest cyber threats, learn how secure their password is, and how people may be watching them with interactive demonstrations.
  • Radio drama involved the public in producing, developing and recording short form radio dramas for birst.co.uk and broadcasting them live at the end of the day, supported by actors, staff and students in the Media School. This gave the public a chance to see the radio studio at work behind the scenes.
  • Mindful over mindless was a talk that explained to the public how and why they should incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives to improve their wellbeing and explored the close relationship between the mind and body by drawing on the effects that modern living can have on our physiology.


What hasn’t been done before?

Well a lot certainly has been done but if you can think outside the box a bit, there are tonnes of new ways to engage the audience. We love what Science Ceilidh do. They run workshops of your favourite dances rejigged with a twist of science. From simulating your immune system with the Dashing White Blood Cell to swinging your partner DNA base-pairs in the Orcadian-Strip-the-Helix -They’re pulling all the stops out to make science enjoyable and understandable to everyone in an innovative way.

You don’t have to run a long event. Many members of the public actually prefer to attend an event which only lasts an hour or so, rather than for a whole day.

Fill out the expressions of interest application here to get involved. We’re completely open to ideas and we’d love to hear from you! Contact Naomi Kay for any queries.