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University of Aberdeen

Principal investigator: Professor Albert Alexander Rodger
Title: A progressive model for institutional culture change
Project contact: Dr Kenneth Skeldon (

The University of Aberdeen takes the view that to properly integrate with society, the institution as a whole must regard the public as one of its key stakeholders. At an operational level, this means empowering staff and students to become involved, build capacity and drive an agenda of public engagement forward. This includes investment in operations that traditionally may not have been considered central to the core business of the organisation. Over the years, the University has pro-actively encouraged progress in the public engagement arena, whilst also responding to a number of drivers that are now emerging as key guiding principles from external stakeholders such as Government and major funders.

The University has been extremely proactive in recent years, particularly in the field of public engagement with science, where a research and researcher-led strategy has demonstrated the mutual benefits that can be realised for both the public and researchers. Several outputs from the strategy have resulted including one of the UK's biggest researcher led Cafe Scientifique programmes and the securing of the British Science Festival in Aberdeen - the first time it has been held in Scotland since 2001 and in Aberdeen since 1963. The University has also forged working relationships with the national Beacon network, formed in 2008 with support from the major funders, to create a step change in attitudes of higher education institutes towards public engagement.

The Catalyst funding gives the University a unique opportunity to demonstrate how a wider public engagement with research strategy can reap huge benefits moving forward. By taking advantage of cross-disciplinary approaches together with the benefits of collaborations, the University will achieve a sustainable model for public engagement with research that will add significant value to the wider engagement and research agendas in Scotland and beyond.

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