"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."
Definition from the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement
This is a broad definition that goes beyond just Public Engagement with Research. At Warwick we're keen to support all forms of public engagement, both with research and also with more widely making the benefits of the campus accessible to the outside world.
Types of public engagement
There are multiple forms of public engagement and which one you choose will be informed by what your research is and what you want to get out of doing public engagement. Remember the goal is to generate mutual benefit between yourself and your public. One tool for considering what type of engagement activity you might want to do is the public engagement triangle. This tool lays out the different types of engagement under broad themes that can overlap and is designed to help you plan your engagement strategy. Read more about the tool and how to use it.
Helpful information sources
National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE)
The NCCPE were set up in 2008 as part of an HEFCE project to fund Beacons for Public Engagement and develop a co-ordinating centre in order to:
"create a culture within UK Higher Education where PE is formalised and embedded as a valued and recognised activity for staff at all levels, and for students."
They are a well respected organisation and have built on the learning of Beacon institutions to produce a fantastic website that provides a huge amount of information about public engagement. You may find this page on Techniques and Approaches particualrly relevant.
Funders also will often provide guidance on public engagement. Wellcome is a big supporter of public engagement (and if you already have funding from them you can usually apply for a specific public engagement grant to go with it). RCUK provides an extensive overview of what public engagement with research is and also a series of guides and tools that may be of use to you. Several of the research councils also provide their own pages with information about public engagement:
- Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) - This link will take you to a series of case studies about the impact and value of AHRC funded projects, many of which include public engagement
- Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
- Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
- Medical Research Council (MRC)
- Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
- Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
Public Engagement Team
The Public Engagement Team are also available to meet with you (or provide advice by phone/ email if you prefer) and discuss what type of public engagement might work best in your position. See the Meet the Team pages to identify who your Faculty point of contact is, or else email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond to your enquiry. We have also begun compiling case studies of public engagement activity that's taken place at Warwick.