Keele University awarded funding to expand public engagement with research

Keele University has been awarded an extension of the Strategic Support to Expedite Embedding Public Engagement with Research (SEE-PER) grant, by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The grant will cover phase one of the second year of the project to embed public engagement with research across the institution, with match funding from the University extending the activity to September 2019.

Professor David Amigoni, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, and Principal Investigator for the project comments:

“Our success is due to the University’s continued commitment to public engagement with research and the project’s achievements in the first year, which included the establishment of seven key objectives for embedding public engagement in Keele’s wider research culture. The new grant period will build on these objectives and lessons learned in year one, to develop and implement a distinctively Keele public engagement with research (PER) strategy, and ensure that it is sustainable into the future. The aim is for PER to be core business, with a joined-up approach that puts sustained engagement with external partners and publics at the centre, includes provision for training, and extends the scale of high-quality public engagement with research by linking it to staff career pathways, awards and recognition, and through institutional platforms such as events and festivals.”

The SEE-PER grants build on the success of and learning from the Research Councils UK (RCUK) Public Engagement with Research Catalyst Seed Fund, Catalyst funding and the Beacons for Public Engagement (co-funded with the Wellcome Trust and UK funding councils). Keele’s modified acronym for the project – SEEK-PER  – includes ‘K’ for the Keele Difference, which recognises that the project aligns with Keele’s distinctive civic mission and public engagement ethos grounded in co-production of knowledge.

Professor Amigoni explains:

“Co-production involves use of creative and innovative research methodologies to have two-way conversation with our publics, whether an individual or an organisation that benefit both the research and our external partners. While this might offer practical challenges in some research areas, SEEK-PER work has shown us that co-production can be put at the heart of Keele’s major research themes – social inclusion, sustainability and global health – and across the arts, humanities and sciences through interdisciplinary teamwork to develop high-quality PER methodologies ranging from outreach to full public engagement.”

The SEEK-PER project work itself will continue to be underpinned by the ‘theories of change’ approach, with the ethos of co-production also informing the drafting of Keele’s PER strategy for inclusion it its wider research strategy, which is currently being revised.