Keele awarded funding to help the public shape its research on issues impacting society

Keele University will be working with stakeholders from across the region to engage in research, as part of a new approach to public engagement funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

The funding will support the development of Keele University’s fourth civic agreement, Keele Deal Inclusion. Keele Deals formalise the institution’s commitment to achieving a positive impact on the economic and social life of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.

Through the additional collaborations that Keele Deal Inclusion will enable, the University will work with local partners to better understand the barriers to achieving social inclusion in the region, and develop ways to effectively work together to tackle these.

The project builds on Keele’s existing research and innovation collaborations aimed at improving educational outcomes, supporting vulnerable people and helping communities to get the most out of new kinds of sustainable and affordable energy.

The project is part of UKRI’s new vision for public engagement and the funding will help universities to engage with key stakeholders and also with members of the public who would not normally engage with research and innovation, so they can shape studies that are relevant to their lives and their local areas.

Through Keele Deal Inclusion, Keele researchers will consult with local stakeholders to build a strategic understanding of key issues and barriers to inclusive prosperity in the region and will seek to identify potential areas for collaboration between the University and local partners, agreeing priority areas and programmes of work to support social inclusion in the area.

This project is part of a country-wide project funded by the UKRI to help expand the opportunities for people from all walks of life across the UK to actively contribute to publicly-funded research and encourage disadvantaged communities to share their ideas, concerns and aspirations and to get involved in decision making.

Professor Derek McGhee, Director of the Keele Institute for Social Inclusion, said: “Through its previous Deals, the University has already set out ambitious plans to support economic growth, strengthen cultural and creative environments, and address health and care priorities across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. Now, with help from the UKRI funding, we are able to progress with our plans for Keele Deal Inclusion, and are looking forward to working with our partners and the local community to develop ambitious plans to enable and empower inclusive prosperity across the region.”

Professor David Amigoni, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, added: “I am delighted that Keele University has been awarded this UKRI funding which enables us to build on valued earlier funding from UKRI that has allowed us to successfully build our public engagement skills and capacity.

“As we look outwards to work with our communities, we look forward to sharing our learning with the National Centre for the Coordination of Public Engagement and UKRI as the sector refines and builds its sense of what a successful civic university mission looks like.”

Tom Saunders, UKRI’s Head of Public Engagement, said: “This is one of 53 pilot projects that we have funded, all using exciting ways that researchers and innovators can involve the public in their work. In 2020 and beyond, we will build on the lessons we learn through funding these pilot projects to help us achieve our ambition of making research and innovation responsive to the knowledge, priorities and values of society and open to participation by people from all backgrounds.”