Why does mission matter?
"The best examples of engagement ... were umbilically linked to the core teaching and research activities. So our thinking led us to the conviction that engagement needs to be embedded, and seen as a critical approach to doing the day job better, not an additional activity."
Professor Paul Younger, PVC Engagement, Newcastle University (2008-2010)
Without a sense of mission – a shared understanding of the purpose and value of public engagement – it is very difficult to build momentum. By expressing this commitment in your institution’s strategic planning, you can then begin to mobilise the resources and enthusiasm to effect significant cultural and operational change.
There are four key areas that have proved critical to tackling this:
Embedding a commitment to public engagement in your mission
For many institutions, engagement provides a powerful way of framing their civic and intellectual purpose, and their desire to contribute to ‘public good’. Their commitment to engagement says something so profound about their values and purpose they chose to describe this formally in their mission statement or corporate plan.
Building a shared understanding of public engagement and its value.
Public engagement is something of a hidden treasure in most institutions: there is far more of it going on that is often realised. Opening up the conversation about what engagement means to your institution, what is currently looks like, and how it might be enhanced provides a crucial foundation for further development.
To capitalise on this potential and to maximise impact and value for money, it helps to develop a strategic plan for engagement. This should articulate why engagement matters, how different parts of the institution can contribute, and how best to ensure it is effectively coordinated and supported across the institution.
Alignment with other priorities
Engagement is best understood not as an ‘add on’ to existing activity, but as a way of enhancing the quality and impact of the institution’s core activities: research, teaching and learning, student experience and civic responsibility. Ensuring that you articulate this alignment, and the opportunities for all staff and students to contribute, will unlock huge value.
Download our mission resource pack to help you work through this area.
The mission resource pack includes: an introduction to embedding public engagement in your mission, the mission EDGE tool, the story of how Newcastle University approached the challenge, links, and further reading.