University of Birmingham

Why we've signed the Manifesto

"Innovation and engagement are at the heart of everything we do in Birmingham. We are committed to engaging with a wide variety of publics to improve the design and delivery of research and learning and ensuring that our work makes an impact. We are a global University with huge pride in our civic roots, and the Manifesto reflects our desire to continue to tackle challenges and maximise opportunities in partnership with our communities, both internally and externally."

Professor David Eastwood, Vice Chancellor, University of Birmingham.

Our approach to public engagement

University of Birmingham campusEnhancing our performance and status as an ‘engaged’ institution is part of the University of Birmingham’s 2015 Strategic Framework, and public engagement is a core pillar of this - not only in the dissemination of ground-breaking research, but also in its design and delivery, ensuring that public need is at the heart of what we do. To connect this top-level strategy with our academic and professional staff and students in an effective way, the University created a Public Engagement Working Group, drawing together academic and administrative ‘Champions’ from each of its five Colleges, plus professional services such as Marketing & Communications, the Graduate School, Stakeholder Relations and also external advisors such as Thinktank, our local Science Museum. To lead the initiative we appointed author, science journalist and presenter Alice Roberts as the University’s first Professor of Public Engagement in Science, and teamed her with Professor Ian Grosvenor, Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor for Cultural Engagement. As co-chairs of the group, they emphasise the strong commitment to interdisciplinarity in science and arts in Birmingham, and the potential creativity unlocked by interactions between them.

Working with the NCCPE, Wellcome Trust and other groups the University has developed a defined public engagement strategy to outline common understanding and goals to support the great public engagement already happening at the University, pave the way for more and better engagement by breaking down barriers, and to put public engagement at the centre of academic life. This is complemented by a delivery plan which commits dedicated funding to a series of key deliverables every 6-12 months that all help us to achieve the longer-term aspirations of the strategy.

The Public Engagement Working Group has already created an annual week-long Arts & Science Festival, developed intranet resources and funding streams open to all staff to encourage and inspire innovative engagement, as well as its champions and co-chairs personally supporting a range of academics across the institution to develop and deliver these activities. We also hosted the first of the NCCPE’s ‘Engaged Futures’ discussion workshops, at which we formally signed up to the Manifesto. Over the next 12 months, alongside hosting the British Science Festival 2014, our delivery plan has committed us to a month-long ‘pop-up’ celebration of our research in the city; new ways to make our research more accessible and interactive for the public online; enhancing our ability to deliver peer-to-peer support and forums for collaborative engagement activity development for our researchers; creation of interdisciplinary engagement props; and an international conference to celebrate and learn from best practice. These projects, although coordinated by the PEWG, are being delivered by task groups made up from over 100 volunteers from academic and professional staff and students who have willingly given up their time because of their passion about great research in Birmingham, and its ability to both enhance and be enhanced by the lives, experiences and involvement of our community.


Name: Dr Eliot Marston

Title: Bupa Translational Research Manager