Training and development

How to establish a professional development programme for public engagement


Professional development and training is often seen as a key component for supporting public engagement and culture change. There are a number of challenges to providing effective training but the good news is that there is an abundance of experience to learn from, and this page provides some useful resources and examples to get started.

Top tips

Training doesn’t always have to take the form of a workshop or training session: 1:1 guidance from a public engagement professional is also a valuable learning experience. Learning through peer-to-peer networks is also a form of training. Before you create a new training programme, think about who the training is for and what form they are most likely to respond to. Senior academics, for example, are much more likely to welcome one-to-one support on a research grant than attending a generic workshop on writing public engagement into research grants. In comparison PhD students and new PIs are more likely to be looking to upskill through training and workshops.

Be strategic in the training you provide: ask yourself, what will add value to CPD already available? Are there external training and opportunities available to point staff towards? Could you share training with other groups or institutions?

Training to consider for all staff:

  • Why do public engagement?
  • Identifying your audience and adapting activities to suit them.
  • An overview of the different methods for public engagement.
  • An introduction to evaluation, its importance, and how to incorporate evaluation into activities.

Potentially valuable topics for staff related to public engagement:

  • Ethical research and addressing ethical issues with public engagement.
  • Presentation skills.
  • Narrative skills and storytelling.

Specific skills staff might seek out when conducting or planning public engagement:

  • Working with patients and communities.
  • Facilitation skills.
  • Using participatory art.
  • Building successful collaborations.
  • Working with museums.
  • Exhibition display/design.
  • Developing workshops/ hands-on activities.
  • Education and working with schools.
  • Audience behaviour management.
  • Performance skills.
  • Use of Blogging.
  • Use of Social Media.


Here is a checklist you might use to assess your current provision of training and development, and what might be missing:

  • Opportunities for developing PE skills through training are offered, including evaluation.
  • Opportunities for developing PE skills through activities are offered, to enable people to practice their skills.
  • Training is integrated with HR and wider CPD offers.
  • Public Engagement expertise is available to advise staff and students.
  • Peer-to-peer networks exist for staff to support each other’s PE practice.
  • Mentoring opportunities for PE are available to staff.
  • Staff and students have access to tools, guides and resources to support PE activity.
Inspire me!


Rough Guide: running training for public engagement

University of Bath have developed this really useful introductory guide, which covers the basics


Rethinking professional development for public engagement with research: A way to improve uptake and impact of training?

This article, published in the Research for All journal, explores why it can be so hard to interest researchers in training, and suggests some ways to tackle this



Useful resources

The NCCPE Learning Mini-EDGE tool

Use this mini-EDGE tool to assess your own support for training and development, and to find out more about how the University of Edinburgh developed their approach.   


Vitae Public Engagement Lens 


You can plan your approach to training using the Researcher Development Framework. The NCCPE worked with Vitae to develop a ‘public engagement lens’, which spells out in more detail the knowledge, behaviours and attributes that you can acquire through involvement in public engagement.


NCCPE training 


The NCCPE offers an extensive training programme, and also offer ‘training the trainer’ opportunities. You can explore our current training offer here.



What next?

Working with networks is a key way to extend your influence and impact – find out how.