20 December, 2017
The National Coordinating Council for Public Engagement (NCCPE) hold their ENGAGE Conference in Bristol every year – it’s a great opportunity to meet public engagement professionals from other institutions, to attend workshops and share best practice. The keynote presentations were given by speakers from South Africa, Columbia and the USA, so it was interesting to learn from international leaders.
This was the fourth time I have attended ENGAGE and it was the best yet. My involvement with the NCCPE for conferences and their Public Engagement Academy has brought me into contact with my opposite numbers in a number of universities across the UK and so in almost every workshop I took part in there was a familiar face, either in a work group or leading the session.
The conference theme this year was collaboration, and I attended workshops on underserved audiences, the ethics & evaluation of collaboration, values-focussed collaboration and engagement, partnering with parents, and tackling training challenges, presented by institutions from as far afield as The University of Victoria in British Columbia.
I was particularly interested in discussions during a workshop led by (among others) Newcastle University, who have developed a ‘research support group’ made up of members of the public, to ensure that funding applications include a clear non-technical summary of the research. Any research outcomes and publications resulting from successful grant applications are also shared with the support group.
I was also impressed by an initiative developed by Oxford Sparks, who work with university staff with children in local primary schools to develop and deliver science activities, which are designed to raise the confidence of other parents to talk about science with their own children. I look forward to developing our own version of the scheme to create networks of engaged parents.
So, a busy programme, a long journey and good company throughout the conference, whether old friends or new colleagues. Some lessons learned and some new ideas to develop and experiment with in 2018.
20 December 2017
By Michael Hinton