ORION @ENGAGE - Esther's baptism of fire!

ORION @ENGAGE - Esther's baptism of fire!

On my first day at the Institute I was asked whether I could do some final edits on ORION’s Menu of Co-creation Tools and present it at the ENGAGE conference. I haven’t presented a poster at an external conference since completing my Bachelor’s degree several years ago, so I was quite nervous about how this task would work out. Co-creation experiences are a way to include multiple stakeholders in a project and use the input of each stakeholder to shape the final outcome. The concept can be applied to all stages of the research cycle to open up the process. The Menu highlights 31 methods and builds upon the ENGAGE2020 Action Catalogue. After diving into the Menu of Co-creation Tools numerous times to ensure all typos were removed and hyperlinks were working, I felt my confidence in presenting at the conference growing. So, packed with my poster and a stock of menus I travelled down to Bristol with my colleagues. 

Most of the delegates at the ENGAGE conference work in public engagement at various organisations. This gave me the opportunity to talk and learn about how other organisations aim to open up the way their organisation works, for instance by working closely together with community groups, museums and with other organisations in European consortia similar to ORION. But, the big moment for me was presenting the poster and handing out the Menu of Co-creation Tools during the poster session. I spoke with many delegates working at research institutes, charities, universities and research funding organisations; mostly from the United Kingdom, but also delegates from the Netherlands, Kenya and Taiwan showed interest in our work. Some responded very enthusiastically, sharing examples they are working on to generate openness within their organisations. Others were happy for us to lead the way and keep an eye on the project to see how ORION’s outcomes could eventually support their institute. If you want to stay informed about the ORION project too, follow the project’s Twitter and Facebook page or take a look at the website.

My highlight of presenting the project was talking to someone who hadn’t even thought about using methods to enable co-creation within his public engagement work. By talking about the Menu of Co-creation Tools and challenging his way of thinking I saw a “light bulb moment”. Hopefully, he will now use his copy of the Menu to trial some co-creation in his work. I look back at a good first month at the Institute and hope to be able to talk to many more about co-creation and openness in research in the months to come.