Assess your institutional culture: Introducing the EDGE tool

Explore the EDGE tool and how to use it to self-assess your support for public engagement.

updated on 09 Oct 2023
3 minutes read

About the EDGE tool

How well does your institution currently support public engagement? What are you doing well, and are there areas which you could quickly and efficiently target to make a big difference? We've distilled the work of the Beacons for Public Engagement and other universities to create the EDGE tool, a self-assessment tool to help you take stock and plan your own work.

The tool has nine focal points which form a self-assessment matrix, to allow you to assess your institution's current performance and to begin to identify areas where you would like to see progress. We've called it the EDGE Tool as it describes 'Embryonic', 'Developing', 'Gripping' and 'Embedded' approaches to supporting engagement.  

The EDGE Tool at a glance

The EDGE tool provides a useful device to get colleagues talking and reflecting on the current state of play in your department, school or institution, and helps to identify where to focus your efforts.


Institutional support for engagement is patchy or non-existent, although some engagement activity is underway


Some support has been put in place, but in a relatively unsystematic and non-strategic fashion


The institution is taking steps to develop more systematic and strategic support


The institution has put in place strategic and operational support for engagement

Reflect on the culture of your organisation

So what does the EDGE tool highlight? It invites you to reflect on three aspects of your culture:

  • Your Purpose: how is public engagement built into institutional mission and strategy and how effectively it is led
  • Your Processes: how far your systems and support processes facilitate involvement
  • Your People: how you involve staff, students and representatives of the public

For each area, there are three probes to focus your attention.


Mission: Have you created a shared understanding of the purpose, value and meaning of engagement and embedded this in your strategy and mission?

Leadership: Do you support champions across the organisation who embrace engagement?

Communication: Do you communicate consistent, clear messages to validate, support and celebrate it, and ensure open and two-way communication with internal and external stakeholders?


Support: How do you co-ordinate your support to maximise efficiency, target support, improve quality, foster innovation, join up thinking and monitor effectiveness?

Learning: What opportunities do you provide for learning and reflection and what support do you provide for CPD?

Recognition: How do you recognise and reward staff involvement within recruitment, promotion, workload plans and performance reviews, and how do you celebrate success?


Staff: Do you ensure that all staff – in academic and support roles – have opportunities to get involved in informal and formal ways?

Public: Do you proactively involve people from outside the university in shaping the mission and in the delivery of the strategy, and maximise opportunities for their involvement?

Students: How are students involved and what opportunities do they have to contribute their expertise and energy?

Delving deeper: the nine mini EDGE tools

The EDGE tool lets you take a high level ‘temperature check’ across your institution. We have also created nine further EDGE tools, one for each of the dimensions.

These allow you to take a deeper look at how you are supporting public engagement and focus attention on the interventions which can make the greatest difference in each of the nine areas. We outline the focus of each below, and provide links to PDFs of each