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A Field Guide to Public Engagement and Culture Change

An interactive tool sharing the approach the Public Engagement Unit takes to embedding a culture of public engagement with research at the University of Bath.

Project status

Complete

Duration

10 Dec 2019 to 10 Jul 2020

Illustration with groups of people carrying out different activity, one group looking a map, one group sitting and chatting, one person drawing, one person using a measuring tape to measure
A Field Guide to Public Engagement and Culture Change

Since 2012, the Public Engagement Unit has been working to foster a culture where public engagement with research is recognised, practised and valued across the University of Bath.

Advocating for public engagement with research is not always easy or straightforward, and we wanted to share our experiences.

A Field Guide to Public Engagement and Culture Change is for anyone who is working to raise the profile of public engagement with research within their institution. This could be public engagement professionals, researchers with a departmental responsibility for public engagement, or professionals who have public engagement as part of their broader remit within higher education institutions.

Our approach

As an established Public Engagement Unit, we often get requests from colleagues in other universities wanting to draw on our expertise in how we support and work with people to embed public engagement. These requests often centre on practical advice and guidance. However, sharing our resources and materials doesn't really reflect the thinking behind our approach, or how we worked with and mobilised people across the University, or how we dealt with challenges and resistance. The Field Guide aims to help colleagues navigate and find their own way through the process of creating a positive culture of public engagement based on our experiences

Collaborating with public engagement consultant David Owen and design agency Boyle&Perks we reflected on our work and approach to culture change and created A Field to Public Engagement and Culture Change. Split into four sections and made up of 25 different exercises, the Field Guide shares our experiences and aims to help colleagues navigate and find their own way through the process of creating a positive culture of public engagement.

Understanding Culture

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Part I - Understanding Culture

Understanding the culture of an institution is an important first step in the culture change process. This section looks at the habits and habitat that make up the culture of a place and the relationship between them and culture change.

Understanding the University

Illustration of a map with various points of the university landscape on it
Part II - Understanding the University

Universities are large and complex institutions with a mix of teaching, research, and public good at their core. This section reflects on the university and the role of public engagement professionals in creating change within these institutions.

Thinking About Your Approach

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Part III - Thinking About Your Approach

Over several exercises to help understand their motivations, skills, knowledge and attributes, this section helps public engagement professionals develop their own approach to culture change.

Key Lessons We’ve Learned

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Part IV - Key Lessons We’ve Learned

This section looks in more depth at some specific approaches the Public Engagement Unit used at the University of Bath to create change. This section is broken down into 11 different lessons covering; Processes, Working with Others and Being Yourself.

A Field Guide to Public Engagement and Culture Change

Illustration with groups of people carrying out different activity, one group looking a map, one group sitting and chatting, one person drawing, one person using a measuring tape to measure
A Field Guide to Public Engagement and Culture Change

A digital version of A Field Guide to Public Engagement and Culture Change is available to download.

Blogs

Discover some of our thinking behind A Field Guide to Public Engagement and Culture Change.


Acknowledgments

The approach outlined in the Field Guide builds on the work of previous Public Engagement Unit staff Ed Stevens and Jo Coleman.

Copy checking with support from Hilary Jackson and Lucy Goldring, Freelance Public Engagement Professionals.

Thanks to colleagues past and present from the other seven universities who were the Catalysts for Public Engagement with Research for helping shape our approach.

Thanks to the team at the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement for their invaluable insight, advice and guidance since 2012.

Credits

Text. David Owen, Gurukula Ltd. Design. Boyle&Perks Illustration. Lucia Vinti

Enquiries

If you are interested in finding out more about A Field Guide to Public Engagement and Culture Change, drop us a line.