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Public Engagement

Queen Mary receives Platinum - so what's next?

On Thursday 2nd December, Queen Mary University of London became the first university to receive a Platinum Engage Watermark. This recognises our continued commitment to, and support for, engaging people with the work we do at Queen Mary. 

Platinum Engage Watermark Logo

The work that led us to this fantastic achievement began back in 2012 when the Centre for Public Engagement (CPE) was founded, but there has been particularly focused effort over the last two years to get us to this point.  As part of the Watermark process, the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement collected extensive evidence on the support we offer, case studies of outstanding public engagement (there were many!) and conducted interviews and focus groups with staff and students at all levels of the University. A report outlined the evidence, reflections from the process, and series of recommendations and in order to secure our Watermark, we responded with an action plan. 

The action plan marks the culmination of two years of work – both on the Watermark process, but also work to set the future strategic direction of the CPE and public engagement support at Queen Mary. So, if you’re wondering what we’ll be up to for the next four years, read on…  

The next four years - an action plan

Our vision is for our staff and students to have access to the highest quality support for public engagement, and to be able to use that support to integrate public and community engagement into their work. We will strengthen our connections with society, from Mile End Road to Rio de Janeiro. We will welcome people outside of universities as co-creators and interpreters of new knowledge and impact, through collaborative research and learning. Over the next four years, we will advance our support for public engagement and our work will be based on five key principles. We will: 

  1. Remove internal barriers to engagement. We will work with schools & institutes, build senior leadership for public engagement, enable PhD student involvement, and support staff to secure external funding. 
  2. Recognise & celebrate good practice. We will work to recognise public engagement within promotions criteria, support nominations for external awards, and showcase engagement across the university. 
  3. Embed good practice across the university. We will enable peer-to-peer learning, improve the chances of long-term project sustainability, and work to embed engagement into university-wide plans. 
  4. Build equitable partnerships. We will develop guidelines for ethical partnerships, build our reach into the local area, launch a Civic University Agreement, and introduce opportunities for internal public representation. 
  5. Champion the value of engaged universities. We will work with UK research funders, participate in national conversations around public engagement, and support the public, community and civic engagement sectors. 

We’re very proud that Queen Mary has been the first to receive a Platinum Engage Watermark, and this award belongs to every single member of staff, student and community partner that has come with us on this journey. You’re the reason why the Centre for Public Engagement exists, and our inspiration for the future. We’d also like to give a special shout out to previous members of the CPE – Charlotte, Bryony, Dan and Katherine – who have contributed to this work, and to the late Vice Principal for Public Engagement Professor Peter McOwan who, from the day we received a Gold Watermark in 2016, encouraged us to aim for Platinum. Thank you all.  



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