A few days ago our communications strategist Silje Graffer attended an MRC supported engagement skills training workshop. The training was led by James Piercy from 'Science Made Simple' and Ben Johnson from 'Graphic Science'.
They made the difference between aims and objectives very clear: Aim: what do you want to achieve? Objectives: the tangible actions you will take towards achieving your aim(s).
A few tips were mentioned:
- Think of your aim(s) first.
- Make sure your public engagement is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.
- To be within a specific timeline and knowing you can deliver the public engagement activity are vital to success.
- Don't just do 'easy' public engagement (like lectures), think more creatively!
- Have evidence that support it is worth for your departement/ company to do public engagement. Then you can use it to persuade people to get onboard.
Questions to ask yourself before you do public engagement:
- What's the difference we want to make (by doing public engagement)?
- What is the 'big picture'?
- What's the story we're going to tell?
- Who will be leading (the public engagement work)?
- How will we look and measure success and failure? It's the failures you learn the most from.
It was a very enjoyable day where we learnt a lot. Other resources for public engagement within The University of Edinburgh were mentioned too:
The Beltane Public Engagement Network http://www.beltanenetwork.org/
A network linking people from across all the universities in Edinburgh, who are interested in making research accessible to the public. They run training, events (Including Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas in the Fringe) and support researchers with their public engagement.
They also have a mailing list and social media: http://www.beltanenetwork.org/discover-beltane/email-alerts/
ASCUS - Art Science Collaborative http://www.ascus.org.uk/
A non-profit organisation committed to bridging the gap between the arts and sciences. They work with partners and practitioners to create innovative trans-disciplinary projects to engage new and wider audiences and facilitate innovative public engagement with both fields. They have a 'lab' based at Summerhall, where they run regular events and exhibitions. They also help researchers to find and work with artists in a way that is beneficial to both.
Widening Participation (WP) Unit at UoE - http://www.ed.ac.uk/student-recruitment/widening-participation
WP aims to address the discrepancies in the take-up of higher education opportunities between different social groups. They work to raise aspirations and educational attainment among prospective students from under-represented groups, and run workshops in schools, summer programmes at UoE and specific longer term programmes.
UoE at National Museums during Edinburgh International Science Festival
Contact Janet Paterson for getting involved with this specific event: Janet.Paterson@ed.ac.uk
Bright Club Edinburgh - http://brightclubedinburgh.blogspot.co.uk/
The freshest thing in stand-up – straight from the (research) field to funny with a new crop of comedic academics from Scotland's universities every month. Authoritatively original, and brilliantly entertaining.(If you want to take part, you will get get training and mentoring beforehand).
Stem ambassadors - https://www.stem.org.uk/stem-ambassadors/ambassadors
This is a nationwide scheme. As a STEM Ambassador, you can get involved in a wide variety of activities, all of which can have an impact on young people’s learning and enjoyment of STEM subjects.