What is Public Engagement?
"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"
-- The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE)
At Queen Mary, we use the NCCPE's definition of public engagement above. Essentially it means that anyone at the University can work with members of the public as partners to help shape, carry out, and share their work. And this work can be research, teaching, or wider University business.
There isn't a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to public engagement. It varies depending on who your audience is and your motivation for engaging with them. The NCCPE highlights three core purposes for engagement:
- Informing/Inspiring: informing, inspiring and educating the public, making your work more accessible and understandable
- Consulting: actively listening to the public's concerns and insights
- Collaborating: working in partnership with the public to solve problems together, drawing on each other's expertise
Your engagement might have one purpose, or several.
Why public engagement?
Having engagement within your work generates benefits for everyone involved: for your research or teaching, for staff and students at Queen Mary, and for the wider community. It helps to better connect the work of the University with society to create social impact.
Some of these potential benefits include:
- Enriching research, teaching and learning at Queen Mary
- Improving the accountability and transparency of research
- Ensuring the activities of Queen Mary are relevant and connected to communities
- Building and sharing knowledge, skills and experiences both within Queen Mary and wider society
Why does public engagement matter to Queen Mary?
At Queen Mary University of London, being an engaged university and a good neighbour is a strong part of our identity, building on the ethos of the People's Palace: an important part of our history.
Public and community engagemnt are essential tools in achieving this. Engaging outside our university ensures that our activities have public benefits, that we are connected to our local communities, and our staff and students are connected to the communities affected by their work.
For more information on our approach to public and community engagement, visit the Public Engagement at Queen Mary page.
Why does Public Engagement matter to Higher Education Institutes?
Public engagement isn't just important to Queen Mary, but has strategic importance within the Higher Eductation Institute (HEI) landscape.
Many of the major funding bodies expect researchers to engage with the public. As such, engagement can be included within grant submissions, usually in the Case for Support sections.
Public engagement can also be a potential route to impact, and can be included in the environment statements and impact case studies that are submitted to the Research Excellence Framework (REF). For more information on impact and the REF, you can talk to the Queen Mary Impact Team.
The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) allows institutions to submit evidence and stories of their 'engaged learning approaches' as part of their assessment-- highlighting the importance for opportunities for students to engage in learning within communities beyond the university. For more information on the TEF, you can visit the Office for Students website.
Public and community engagement is a core part of the narratives that are submitted to the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF), assessing the knowledge exchange activities that are happening at universities and the benefits these are providing to society. For more information on the KEF, you can visit the UKRI website.