Catalysts for Public Engagement with Research

Following the success of the Beacons for Public Engagement, Research Councils UK launched the Public Engagement with Research Catalysts project in 2012.

Eight universities were funded to establish support for public engagement with research, drawing on the lessons learnt from the Beacons.

The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) worked with the Catalyst projects between 2012 and 2015 to share learning, and build capacity for engagement.  We created a final report summarising the key lessons learned.

Catalyst institutions

The eight universities funded were:

  • UCL Institute of Education
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • The Open University
  • University of Aberdeen
  • University of Bath
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Sheffield

Project aims

The aims of the Catalyst projects were to create a culture within the grant holding HEIs where excellent public engagement with research is formalised and embedded through:

  • strategic commitment to public engagement
  • integration of public engagement into core research activities of universities, including measuring quality and impact of public engagement with research activities
  • reward and recognition of researchers and staff involved in public engagement
  • encouraging and supporting researchers and staff at all levels to become involved (e.g. by building capacity for public engagement amongst researchers)
  • creating networks within institutions to share good practice, celebrate their work and ensure that those involved in public engagement feel supported
  • contributing to a wider network supportive of public engagement including the NCCPE, other Catalysts and the wider higher education community
  • building on experience to develop best practice that recognises the two-way nature of public engagement with research.

Project outcomes and evaluation

Their final reports and a summary evaluation of the programme can be accessed here.

An independent interim review of the Catalyst Programme, based on submitted project reports and evaluations, has been undertaken by Ruth Townsley Research, synthesising the approaches and achievements of the Programme. Summary and full reports are available.