For more than a century, research from our University has created a major impact on the city, the region and the world. Moving forward, the University’s 2015-2020 Strategic Framework has committed to expanding the impact of our research on public policy, society, health outcomes, and the economy. Specifically, we will work with our academics and partners to realise the potential impact of their research and scholarship, providing support and valuing these activities with an understanding that our collective impact relies on the increasing status and profile of individuals.
In 2012, Professor Alice Roberts was appointed as Professor of Public Engagement in Science, helping inspire people to engage with the world-class research at the University of Birmingham. Along with this appointment came the establishment of the Public Engagement with Research Committee (PERC), chaired by Alice and Professor Ian Grosvenor (our Cultural Partnerships lead), comprising a membership of academic and administrative champions from across the University who coordinate and action future institution-wide public-facing projects, while supporting individuals to develop their own ideas. Whilst these changes have helped enhance our status as an ‘engaged’ institution, setting the ball in motion, now is the time for us to reaffirm this ambition by creating permanent resources to stimulate meaningful and long-lasting culture change in this area.
With this is mind we will utilize our RCUK Catalyst Seed Fund to prioritise four key areas of engagement practice for further development: PLANNING (our ‘Mission’); PEOPLE (our ‘Leadership’); PARTNERSHIPS (our ‘Public’); and PROMOTION (our ‘Recognition’). We will directly support our researchers through the implementation of training and workshop programmes that will promote good practice and deepen understanding of public engagement, particularly within the wider context of Impact. Key areas for skill development will be identified and tackled through input and consultation with our researchers, to embolden them to raise their own external profile through exploring and engaging with the public (broad or niche) relevant to their research. We will continue to nurture and make good use of new and existing networks and communications tools, and where deficits or challenges arise we will seek to remedy these through innovative and responsive methods, actively listening to our researchers’ needs and concerns. We will work to put processes in place to capture, monitor and reflect on our progress and performance along the way.
We also recognise that greater partnerships with our regional communities will help us recognise and implement meaningful priorities and activities, with engagement at the heart of our ongoing and future research.