By Claudine Anderson, Policy Manager, Public Engagement with Research.
Are you a researcher who talks passionately about your research with school students? Have you developed an exciting exhibition to help people engage your work? Do you involve members of the public in your research? If you can answer yes to any of these, then think about entering “Engage 2014”, the new national competition from the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE)!
The NCCPE launched the Engage 2014 competition to find and celebrate the amazing public engagement work that is taking place in the UK. Public engagement encompasses a broad range of exciting activities – from talking with and listening to young people at festivals, to supporting members of the public to be co-researchers – and the benefits of public engagement are many. By listening to the public, the quality of research can be improved and ensure that it is in society’s best interest. For the researcher, public engagement can help raise their profile, discover new partners for collaborations, and develop new skills such as communications and networking. For the research institution, it is an excellent way of becoming involved with the local community; and for the public, it can help deepen their understanding of the advances taking place in research, become more informed citizens and can inspire young people to consider a research career.
Engaging the public with research is an important activity that brings so many benefits to those involved and we believe it’s essential that those who take part in public engagement are recognised and rewarded for doing so. This is why RCUK, along with the Wellcome Trust and the UK funding councils, established and funds the NCCPE, which aims to inspire and support universities to engage with the public. It’s just one of our many schemes and initiatives that we provide to help and encourage researchers in the research and higher education sectors to do public engagement, such as the RCUK Catalysts and leading on the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research.
Celebrating outstanding public engagement work is a great way to develop and share good practice across the research and academic communities, and we hope that this competition will inspire others to do more. The finalists will be presenting their projects to a judging panel during Universities Week on Wednesday 11th June 2014 at the National History Museum and we’re really looking forward to finding out about the excellent activities that are going on. Projects from all disciplines, of any size, length and cost will be considered and further competition categories will be decided once submission is closed to encourage as wide a range as applications as possible, and ensure that the categories reflect this diversity. One overall winner and a runner up will be decided from all entries; and there will be a winner and runner up for each individual category. The overall winner will receive £2500 to develop or share their engagement work with others. Further details, including eligibility and how to enter, can be found on the NCCPE’s website.
The competition closes on 31st March 2014, 5pm, so there is still time to enter. Good luck!