Inspiring, informing and educating the public, and making the work of higher education more accessible
One common purpose for public engagement is to let people know about the work going on in universities, to inspire or excite them about it and its relevance to them, and to find involving and empowering ways of engaging them with that work.
The kinds of activities commonly involved include:
- Presentations and lectures
- Lifelong learning festival appearances
- Media work
- Writing for non-specialists, whether online or in journalism or books
Although the emphasis is on 'transmission' of knowledge, it is widely accepted that effective communication and information sharing must avoid talking 'at' people: 'informing' should not be a one-way process. Although the interactions are usually initiated by the university, listening to and responding sensitively to the interests, concerns and insights of the public is always critical, as is considering the needs of your audiences beforehand.
Geographer Jason Dittmer speaks at Bright Club, UCL's variety night where researchers perform stand up comedy about their work, Hilary Jackson