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History, Heritage and Public Engagement

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Who: Students

What: Developing a working dialogue between the university, local museums and an archive centre

Why: To facilitate knowledge and skills transfer, and to strengthen partnerships in mutually beneficial projects

Where: University of East Anglia

When: Ongoing

Project description

The project is a new third-year undergraduate module which develops a working dialogue between the university, local museums and an archive centre in order to facilitate knowledge and skills transfer, and to strengthen partnerships in mutually beneficial projects. The new module will improve teaching and learning for students by equipping them with modern, practical and transferable skills and help them to gain valuable workplace experience as well. It will also develop new models of engagement between the university and region.

The project

  • is of mutual benefit to all participants
  • encourages skills sharing between university staff/ students and museum staff
  • generates innovative and effective public engagement activity


The module, entitled ‘History, Heritage and New Media’, is created and designed with three aims in mind. First, to teach modern practical and transferable skills in history and heritage for students about to graduate. Second, to develop closer links between the UEA and local heritage partners, including Norfolk Historic Churches Trust, Norfolk Museums Service and the Norfolk Record Office. Finally, to facilitate the public engagement potential of the School and to increase dialogues between the university and the local community. The end result is the completion of a best practice model for public engagement, and the production of high-quality student projects with a practical application for the wider community and our heritage partners. This module gives students the opportunity to create public-facing projects intended to engage the public; this is something that is not currently available in the History School.

Results and outcomes

What worked well

The project is ongoing, but to date, facilitating a dialogue between the university and local heritage organisations has worked very well and has opened up possibilities for future joint-working. Student achievement has surpassed expectations with their project work potentially having lasting impact for our heritage partners, e.g setting up an ongoing website for our local record office. 

What didn't work well

The project requires a lot of organisation, local contacts and networking in addition to normal student contact hours.  

Resources required

  • Expertise: In-house and through local officers employed by heritage partners.
  • A small amount of money to ensure student projects have a professional finish. This year we have £3000 from internal funding.

Top Tips

  1. Make sure you have strong local links and well-placed contacts!
  2. Be prepared to travel off-site
  3. Think very carefully about project-management and organisation
  4. Block book a large teaching slot as many ‘seminars’ require off-site working

Top Quotes

“This project facilitates a better working relationship between the research community and museums; and provides mutual benefits for all parties involved.”  Dr John Alban, Norfolk Record Office

“This is an excellent and novel idea which reflects the changing culture of higher education.” Prof. John Charmley, Dean of the School of History, UEA


Name: Dr Christopher Bonfield and Fiona Williamson

Both Christopher and Fiona are Public Engagement Ambassadors. Find out more about them here.

Name of organisation: School of History, UEA

Email: ,

Telephone: 01603 592 791