Public Engagement

Centre for Public Engagement Large Awards 2013

You can find out more about how the projects in 2013 have been getting on by looking at their posters, which include updates on progress,lessons learned so far and key successes that they have had. Click on each project to find the link to its poster.

The CPE judging panel considered 21 excellent applications for funding in 2013, and are pleased to have awarded funding to ten outstanding projects. For more details about these projects, click on the title of each project in the table below.

Dramatising the Nature of Private Power

Alan Dignam and Ali Campbell

The project explores the growth of the zone of private power and whether private power raises public accountability issues. The core of the project is to broadly promote public and policy level engagement through a forum theatre dramatization written by Professor Dignam, produced by Menagerie Theatre Company and Ali Campbell of initial case study work by Professor Dignam on corporate human rights abuse. The project intends to use interactive forum theatre as developed by the Brazilian playwright Augusto Boal to present the issues involved in the problematic aspects of the exercise of private power, engaging the public in suggesting solutions through audience participation as ‘spect-actors’ where the audience can take part and try to change outcomes. In 2012 we received funding from the QM Prospect Fund to develop three London performances now scheduled for Autumn 2013. The project has attracted significant attention and we have been invited to perform it outside London at the Festival of Ideas based in Cambridge during October - November 2013, Oxford, Leeds and Belfast. This application is for funding to extend the performances outside London and develop a short film about the project to be maintained on the Law School website and YouTube.

Find out how the project got on by looking at their poster.

QM Olympic Legacy Project

Sarah Gifford and Charlotte Kendrick

The ‘QM Olympic Legacy Project’ is a project that encompasses core values of the Student’s Union as well as the values and legacy areas of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, namely volunteering, sport, culture, raising aspirations, excellence, community and skills development.
We have identified two strands within this project that the Union feel can make a real impact on the local community in developing a visible and accessible Olympic and Paralympic legacy for its’ young people, as well as for our students. At the same time this positions Queen Mary, University of London at the fore, leading the way in public engagement in the borough’s London 2012 legacy.

1. Coaching in the Community

We would like to give students the opportunity to gain and develop skills through coaching sport in their local community. By increasing provision for local young people to participate in sport, we will be ensuring that the people in our community are given the opportunity to enjoy sport and exercise, which is a crucial part in safeguarding the nation's health.  

Through students engaging with young people we will be providing positive role models, training, mentoring and sport certification opportunities for future employment, and to increase individual self-esteem and confidence. There is a significant drop off in especially girls participating in sport at secondary school level, and as a part of this stream, we would attempt to engage a wide-spectrum of multi-cultural girls to enjoy sport.

We would look to get students qualified as coaches, so they could support local and national partners as volunteers in;  Club Development/ National Governing Body Initiatives/ Health Projects/ Community Projects/ Holiday Activities/ One-off events, which would all lead to building a cohesive, empowered and active community.

Another possible positive result of this scheme is that it could be used as a vehicle of social policy targeted at reducing anti-social behaviour and crime in the local community, presenting the young people with a different pathway to follow.

2. Holiday Activity Camps – (Sport and Performing Arts)

To provide an affordable alternative holiday activity solution to parents and young people in Tower Hamlets, using Qmotion and Students’ Union Hub spaces and possibly GLL run centres. The camps will incorporate sports development and performance arts for the young people into a structured programme delivered by paid student leaders who will be involved in the planning of the sessions and the organisation and delivery during the camps. These students will be supported by the full-time staff member who will have overall responsibility for this stream.

Find out how the project got on by looking at their poster.

Evolution in skulls and teeth:  insights from dinosaurs and other extinct animals

David Hone, Steve LeComber and Chris Faulkes

We will use the skulls and teeth of major animal groups (alive and extinct) to explore key aspects of biology, including anatomy, ecology and evolution. DWEH, CGF and SLC already run highly successful schools events in these areas, and the material described in this proposal will add to the extensive teaching collection that SBCS has already invested in (which includes rhino, elephant, hippo, whale and lion skulls) with excellent coverage of charismatic fossil materials and rare species (for example, a cast of an adult Tyrannosaurus skull and the sabre-tooth tiger Smilodon). This material will broaden the pedagogical range of possible activities to include extinct animals (e.g. dinosaurs, currently absent from SBCS's collections). The high-impact nature of such material will dramatically improve the events' appeal to all ages. Events will be presented to school groups from primary school to A level, and used in SBCS's successful taster days. These sessions map on to crucial aspects of relevant Key Stages for education (e.g. teeth), allowing teachers to bring in outside expertise and exciting taxa (large carnivorous mammals, dinosaurs) within the framework of existing teaching targets.

We don't have a poster for this one yet -sorry!

A Decade of Magic Me Projects with The Women’s Library: Sharing the Learning.

Caoimhe McAvinchey and Susan Langford

For the past 10 years Magic Me has worked with The Women’s Library to develop an intergenerational arts programme with students from Mulberry School for Girls and local older women. The Women’s Library is one of the most significant collections of women’s history in the world and each annual project is informed by materials within the archive and museum collection.

Dr Caoimhe McAvinchey’s research into this body of work can inform a range of audiences about innovative intergenerational arts practice in heritage contexts.

A Decade of Magic Me Projects with The Women’s Library: Sharing the Learning disseminates the findings of this research through a number of public engagement strategies:

• A x3 min documentary films, and 6x1 min ‘talking head’ participant films about the 10 Years of Intergenerational Arts Practice, disseminated on-line on and Drama at QMUL’s websites.
• The preparation/publication of a research report both in hard copy and on-line.

A symposium about intergenerational arts practice at QMUL for audiences of artists and other professionals working or interested in diverse fields and contexts: intergenerational arts, heritage, museums/libraries/archives sector, community building and learning for older people.

Find out how the project got on by looking at their poster.

The Pathology Museum goes Potty

Steven Moore and Carla Valentine

In general, medical and dental schools have been reserved regarding access to collections of pathological specimens, particularly to the public. QMUL’s Medical and Dental School has been experimenting with ways to open up the collection of pathological specimens in its care and over the past 18 months some 5000 visitors have attended various events at our West Smithfield museum. From experience we know that visitors want more information (about the specimens) than simple catalogue entries. They want a narrative that relates history, cultural, social and medical information and presents it in a manner that is engaging, entertaining, respectful and informative.

We aim to do this by researching the records from specimens pre-dating 1912 and interpreting this with the aid of inter-disciplinary collaborations (especially from the humanities). This will create innovative material such as video clips, animations, and augmented reality scenarios that will inform visitors about historic events, significant advances in medicine, Industrial injuries, major diseases of the past, and present this using latest media technologies such as QR codes, tablet PCs and eventually tapping into the Apps market. At the same time we will set questions into the site so that visitors can engage with what they have learnt. This is the first time this has been done with human specimens, though other museums are beginning to show similar interest. Our experience in this area will therefore guide others.

Find out how the project got on by looking at their poster.

The Human Harp

Mark Plumley and Di Mainstone

Inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge, the Human-Harp is an interactive, internationally-informed art installation project designed to link artists and digital music researchers, connecting researchers at Queen Mary University to other communities across the globe including Columbia University, NY to collaboratively develop high-profile, mass participation art events.

Working with students from the Centre for Digital Music (C4DM) and Media and Arts Technology (MAT) programme as part of qMedia in EECS, plus the school of Engineering and Material Science, we will build a modular and portable sonic instrument - the Human-Harp.  Mirroring the cables of a suspension bridge, this device will physically attach the user or Movician’s body to bridges.  The twanging, lengthening and shortening of these strings will be measured via digital sensors, triggering the release of sounds recorded from the vibrations of the bridge’s cables.  Through this interaction, each Movician will literally become a human-harp.

The project is ambitious in scope and scale, and seeks to identify, demonstrate and support artistic excellence whilst engaging with the broadest possible range of contributors, participators and audiences with the journey culminating, jointly, in New York and London with performances on the Brooklyn and Hungerford/Golden Jubilee Bridge’s in partnership with Columbia University and the Southbank Centre when audiences will be immersed in a story of sound and motion.

Find out how the project got on by looking at their poster.

Portrayal and Perceptions:  Tottenham Youth in Contemporary Britain

Robbie Shillam

The August 2011 riots that began in Tottenham revealed the significant challenges that continue to face socially deprived communities in contemporary London. However, government and mainstream media responses to the riots have been unproductive in so far as they have tended to portray affected communities through the image of “feral youth”. Furthermore, no public inquiry into the riots has been launched; instead, a number of substitute investigations have taken place in civil society. As a further contribution to these civic inquiries and evaluations this project aims to critically address the negative portrayal and perceptions of Black - especially African-Caribbean heritage - youth from Tottenham.

Via a set of public talks and workshops directed by experts in the fields of social psychology (Dr Joy DeGruy), media sociology (Dr Leah Bassel) and media production (Fully Focused Productions), participants will be given the tools to critically engage with the perceptions that they hold of themselves, their families and community, as well as their negative portrayal in public media. With professional guidance, select participants will then use workshop material to create a multimedia output that will communicate to the broad public an alternative portrayal of their community, its past, present and future, based upon their own critical vision. Findings and outputs of the project will be disseminated at a subsequent community conference at Queen Mary also attended by interested third sector organizations.

Find out how the project got on by looking at their poster.

The Meanings of Military Service

Dan Todman and Loraine Screene

This project draws on our archives and expertise to engage teachers and students from local secondary schools. Although the new National Curriculum is still in draft, it is clear that the First World War will be a required topic at KS3. Students will be required to understand a variety of subjects connected to military service including ‘conscription’. Recent research has identified the need to develop more diverse teaching materials, with a greater local and individual focus, and to involve academics in the selection of material that will both engage students and exemplify complex concepts. Our project seeks to meet this need. It will draw on the holdings of the College Archives and Barts and the London Hospitals Archives to identify a selection of rich individual stories that exemplify essential ideas about wartime service, including enlistment, exemption, wounding, death and survival. Working with teachers from QMUL’s partner schools and an education consultant, we will produce lesson plans based around these stories. Although rooted in East London, they will be designed to be transferable to other schools in the Greater London area. The lesson plans will include reproductions of images of archival primary sources. Initially provided to a selection of schools in hardcopy, they will also be made accessible via a website which will also provide support for teachers making use of these resources. The lasting legacies of the project will be these teaching materials, improved connections between the college and its wider surrounding community, and improved understanding of the ways the war is taught.

Find out how the project got on by looking at their poster.

Peopling the Palace 2014

Lois Weaver, Nick Ridout and Rose Sharp

Peopling the Palace 2014 is a programme festival of arts, entertainment and social events. This strategic project will be the next step in the implementation of Queen Mary's Arts and Culture Strategy to test the emerging market  for cultural programming in the People’s Palace.  With its varied selection of work, presenting experimental performance, social cinema, public debates and tea dances, it invites audiences to take full advantage of the Peoples Palace, as a theatre uniquely suited to the presentation of what we are calling 21st century Variety (using the frame of the conventional big theatre stage to present all kinds of contemporary performance). It builds on the success of Peopling the Palace 2013, and aims to develop the People’s Palace as a leading venue for art and public engagement in East London. The 2014 event is a collaboration between staff and students in the departments of Drama and Film. It will involve ongoing partnerships with local and national arts organisations. It will continue to be a key site for the continuing professional development of current students and recent graduates. In all its programming the festival will continue to foreground key contemporary issues of work, wages and age, engaging diverse publics in serious and playful conversations and encouraging intergenerational exchanges.

We don't have a poster for this one yet - sorry!

Living Wage Week 2013

Jane Wills

In 2012, the Living Wage Foundation held its first ever living wage week. High-profile announcements were made about the increase in the living wage rate, and there was considerable media interest in the campaign. The proposed project is designed to coincide with living wage week in 2013 (the first week of November).  Last year I was asked for numbers and evidence about the campaign and this year, I want to be better prepared. The project is designed to improve our web-presence, enhance the quality of the information provided and develop new media outlets for this work. It is also designed to maximise the benefits of our leadership on this issue.

In partnership with the Living Wage Foundation, the project will :

(1) Conduct analysis of the records already held by the Foundation - to update our figures on the numbers of employers, employees, money redistributed, in London and out of London. There are now almost 200 accredited living wage employers and these will provide the focus for this stage of the work.
(2) Conduct more in-depth follow-up with 4 of these firms in order to complete case studies of implementation and impact that can then be featured on my living wage website.
(3) Contract with Mile End Films to produce a short film to highlight the process of implementation and the impact on firms.
(4) Upgrade my living wage website to integrate the new material and make it more attractive and accessible.
(5) Promote the living wage on campus and ensure that QMUL is making the most of our leadership on this issue.

Find out how the project got on by looking at their poster.