RCUK funding will enrich public engagement at Keele University

Posted on 09 October 2017

Research Councils UK (RCUK) has announced the launch of the Strategic Support to Expedite Embedding Public Engagement with Research (SEE-PER) grants.

Keele University is one of only seven institutions in the UK to be awarded SEE-PER funding to help create, enrich and embed public engagement research cultures across the institution, where excellent public engagement with research is effectively valued and strategically supported within institutional policies, practices and procedures.

Keele University has been awarded funding for six months of activity, with match funding from the University extending the activity to December 2018.

Professor David Amigoni, Pro vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, commented:

“Keele’s success in this RCUK Catalyst Funding Competition underlines the University’s commitment to public engagement with research: the public money that supports high quality research should also promote ways of sharing research with the public in order to promote trust, transparency and the real social benefits that research and innovation can bring.”

The SEE-PER grants build on the success of and learning from the RCUK PER Catalyst Seed Fund, Catalyst funding and the Beacons for Public Engagement (co-funded with the Wellcome Trust and UK funding councils). 

Professor Amigoni explained:

“In sharing its research, Keele is committed to public engagement through co-production — the making of research which fully involves members of the public by learning and benefiting from their experiences, insights, and creative energies. While an important principle, it is a challenge to make the practice work, especially because of the diversity of research that the university delivers: from social animation, to astrophysics, to policing the community, to technology, to arthritis research, to parasitology, to creativity in later life.”

Keele’s SEE-PER project will use a ‘theories of change’ approach to understand the place of co-production in the varied types of research that the university practices. The project will embed enhanced and innovative approaches to co-produced research in its approach to public engagement; by learning from members of public, the university will educate its own leaders who in turn will share this wider learning across the higher education sector and beyond. The award has also enabled the University to appoint its first ever Public Engagement (with Research) Fellow, Dr Jackie Reynolds.

Dr Jenni Chambers, RCUK’s Head of Public Engagement with Research, said: “We are delighted to be able to support high quality projects that will both deepen our understanding of how to effectively support excellent public engagement with research (PER) within universities and research institutes and to begin to tackle some of the remaining embedding challenges identified in the Factors Affecting Public Engagement by Researchers and State of Play research. We look forward to working with the funded institutions and the NCCPE to ensure learning from SEE-PER programme is effectively shared with the sector.”