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Beacons for Public Engagement

Beacons for Public Engagement were university-based collaborative centres to help support, recognise, reward and build capacity for public engagement work across the UK. Together with our partners, the UK funding councils and the Wellcome Trust, we invested into this initiative in order to support a step-change in recognition for public engagement across the higher education sector. There were six Beacons around the UK, and one National Co-ordinating Centre.

For more information about the initiative read our launch brochure  or visit the National Co-ordinating Centre website.

An An independent review of the Beacons was carried out by People Science and Policy. A copy of the review document is available here.

The Beacons were asked to provide final reports and evaluations to document the lessons they learned. These can be accessed here.

The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement
The National Co-ordinating Centre is made up of the University of Bristol, University of the West of England and other partners. The National Co-ordinating Centre built networks across the other Beacons and provided a single point of contact as well as an overview of their activities. It will also works strategically with key national partners who are also interested in understanding and listening to audiences better and generating knowledge with them. These organisations, including the BBC, the Museums, Libraries and Archives, and the volunteering organisation v, AlphaGalileo and Involve will help to professionalise how Higher Education engages with the public.

Visit the National Co-ordinating Centre website.

The Beacons for Public Engagement

Beacon North East
Beacon North East was a partnership between Newcastle University, Durham University and the Centre for Life and local community groups, to pioneer a series of conversations informing key research issues such as: energy and the environment; social inclusion and social justice; and ageing and vitality.

University of Manchester / Manchester Metropolitan / University of Salford / Museum of Science and Industry / Manchester:Knowledge Capital
The Manchester Beacon's activities was shaped and informed by the creativity and dynamism of the people of Manchester and Salford to ensure that all members of the community, particularly residents from the poorest and most excluded neighbourhoods, benefited from their work.

They focused on "reaching out", "listening to" and "learning from" local people. Their programme of activities was delivered in partnership with a wide range of local businesses, sports clubs, cultural venues, community groups and media organisations.

University of Edinburgh / Heriot-Watt University / Napier University / UHI Millennium Institute and other partners
Edinburgh Beltane, the Beacon in Scotland, aimed to encourage citizen participation and understanding of areas of research relevant to public policy such as health and life sciences, energy and environment. It brought together researchers in medicine and the sciences and engineering with those in social sciences, arts and humanities. This ensured breakthroughs in technology, medicines and treatments, and that new discoveries about big issues such as global warming are described in a human context that relates to health and the environment we live in.

University of Cardiff / University of Glamorgan / Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales / BBC Wales / Techniquest
The Beacon for Wales was a collaborative public engagement programme for Higher Education Institutions in Wales. Their plans include the establishment of a Wales Higher Education Engagement Network (WHEEN) to provide opportunities for HE staff and students to network and share ideas on public engagement ; the appointment of a high-level champion for public engagement, working with senior staff and university management to negotiate any necessary changes in policies and employment practices; the establishment of an awards system recognising engagement excellence in a variety of sectors; and four pilot projects to test approaches to new audiences and new techniques.

University College London / Southbank Centre / British Museum and other partners
UCL's plans included tailored training courses designed to empower staff and students to be part of the ongoing dialogue between researchers and the public, and the use of space on main routes of their campus for public activities, tours and installations.

Their partners, the British Museum, the Southbank Centre, Birkbeck College, Cheltenham Science Festival, Arts Catalyst and City and Islington College - provided a unique grouping of expertise, networks and contacts which gave them opportunities for wide engagement with the general public, and also for focused work with small groups, including some of London's most disadvantaged communities.

University of East Anglia and other partners
UEA and partners, as CUE East (Community University Engagement East) will establish a one-stop shop for the public, located in 'The Forum' at the heart of Norwich, alongside the UK's most successful regional library and the BBC's regional offices and studios.

Their overall theme was sustainable living, with a priority target audience of pupils, teachers and parents.

The twenty two external partners, including the East of England Development Agency, Business in the Community and BBC played a vital role in their delivery programme and critical thinking.

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