Embedding a positive culture of public engagement with research at higher education institutions has been the focus of significant investment firstly by Research Councils UK (RCUK), it's successor UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and other funding bodies since 2008. The Public Engagement Unit at the University of Bath, in collaboration with colleagues from the seven other universities participating in the RCUK funded Public Engagement with Research Catalysts (2012-2015), investigated the role of public engagement professionals in culture change initiatives.
Towards the end of their Catalyst projects the public engagement professionals from the eight participating universities, University of Aberdeen, University of Bath, University of Exeter, Institute of Education, University of Nottingham, Open University, Queen Mary – University of London, and the University of Sheffield, came together to reflect on their experiences embedding a positive culture of public engagement with research within their institutions.
What we found out
Reflecting on the activities delivered as part of respective projects, participants outlined the skills, knowledge and attributes that are core to their work. Four key change agents roles were identified:
Catalyst: working as a strategic catalyst for change across the institution.
Facilitator (solutions): providing, or supporting, researchers to find solutions to issues relating to engaging public groups with their research.
Facilitator (processes): delivering activities that help deliver a strategic vision for public engagement with research
Broker: sharing knowledge and resources within and outside your institution
Change Agency and Public Engagement
As part of the project, we captured the reflections in Change Agency and Public Engagement, and outlined the skills, knowledge and attributes associated with each of the identified change agent roles. Change Agency and Public Engagement is made up of exercises and provocations to stimulate reflections on your role within initiatives to embed a positive culture of public engagement with research at universities.