Our longer-term vision for public engagement with research (PE) at the University of Leeds is that it is another valued activity to increase the impact of our research and that it has an equal standing with business engagement. We believe that only a balance between PE and business engagement will allow universities to retain their unique selling point and hence their value to society as safe havens for experimentation and exploration at the frontiers of knowledge.
The University of Leeds currently delivers a significant volume of PE activity. Notably, three public engagement activities from Leeds came top 6 and top 3 in the NCCPE’s national engagement competition in 2014. This activity is carried out by passionate individuals who are supported to varying degree. The establishment of a PE network (pepnet) two years ago was a grass-root activity and has continued to work successfully with that ethos.
The CSF offers a timely opportunity to make PE an institutionally supported, coordinated, recognised and counted activity. We aim to create a culture of PE by signalling the institutional and senior management support for PE, grow the grass-roots PE activity and work, and link it across disciplines. We aim to develop an institutional strategy for PE in a co-productive way that embeds PE better and appropriately includes PE in policies, procedures and practices.
To achieve our aims we will centre on three objectives: communication and visibility, embedding PE and PE is a valued activity. Championship will be used as the major vehicle to help in the delivery of these objectives as learning from examples and role models makes the message authentic.
The project will be led by a senior champion, Professor David Hogg, PVC for Research and Innovation working with a to-be established public engagement team comprising of an academic director, Dr Charlotte Haigh, a public engagement lead, Dr Alexa Ruppertsberg, working in partnership with the Public Patient Engagement (PPE) coordinator (role currently Wellcome ISSF funded). These individuals have a high profile with regard to institutional PE work.
Throughout the project mentoring will be sought from the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) and by institutions which have successfully embedded public engagement.
By September 2016 we will have made significant steps towards PE with research being a valued activity at the University of Leeds, which will include the continued institutional support of the PE team.