"The only constant is change"
The last 18 months have evidenced the truth in these words by Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Change: As the world has responded to a global pandemic and the huge loss of life, the Black Lives Matter movement has shaken the core of systemic racism, grass roots activism has moved environmental issues centre stage, social inequalities have been thrown into dramatic relief, and our society is facing an emerging economic crisis. These changes have opened up unprecedented disruption within higher education too: some existential threats, but also huge opportunities to re-frame and re-focus the role of universities in society.
Engage 2021 will be an opportunity to reflect on this backdrop of change, and consider the role of public engagement to the future of higher education and society. A first for this year will be the Engage ‘Unconference’ – a plethora of activities in the month leading up to Engage, bringing our community together to workshop ideas for change. The Unconference will include the Engage Exhibition; an opportunity to share engagement practice – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Save the dates
The Engage conference will take place online on the 1st and 2nd December 2021. The conference will be a mix of inspirational plenaries, networking opportunities, and opportunities to hear back from the Engage Unconference.
The Engage Unconference will take place online (and maybe even in person in certain places) in November.
Something for everyone
Engage 2021 has been inspired by feedback from previous delegates. We hope that we have a designed an approach that enables delegates to tailor a conference that meets their preferred ways to engage. Delegates can choose to:
- Take time to explore a topic thoroughly, and explore actions that can be taken as a consequence of the discussions.
- Learn from a diversity of practices, including things that haven’t gone so well.
- Sit back and listen to provocative speakers, whose insights provide opportunities for reflection and new thinking. Join in by asking questions, or sit back and enjoy hearing what others are asking.
- Network with new and old colleagues in a relaxed and informal way.
- Share their work in the exhibition.
The Unconference will be informed by and led by our community.
We will be calling for ideas for themes to discuss and action. Themes need to be:
- Based on a current opportunity, challenge or need, relatied to public engagement involving universities.
- Actionable – have the potential to lead to useful action (on an individual, institutional, or sector wide basis).
- Relevant to the current context.
We will be looking for people to support the unconference including:
- Theme leaders: are you happy to champion a theme, and be its spokesperson?
- Facilitators: are you great at facilitating discussions, and ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to contribute? Are you great at supporting a process, ensuring it leads to effective outcomes?
- Resource people: do you have expert knowledge of a topic that you would like to share? Do you have significant experience relating to the themes, and would you be prepared to be drawn on as a resource for the unconference groups?
In addition, we will be asking you to share your practice through our Engage Exhibition.
The formal call for contributions will open in July – so get your thinking caps on! We look forward to working with you.