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The University of Nottingham

Principal investigator: Professor Sarah O’Hara
Title: Integrating the human value of research through public engagement – impacts for the civil society
Project contact: Veronica Strain (veronica.strain@nottingham.ac.uk) and Sharon Clancy (sharon.clancy@nottingham.ac.uk)

The University of Nottingham will create a Community of Practice (CoP) that will build on existing public engagement activities to increase the momentum of culture change through a programme of activities responding to the conclusions and recommendations of recent reviews of public and community engagement. The aim is to meet objectives of stimulating additional activity and embedding culture change in relation to public engagement with research.

An on-line community will support the exchange of research ideas and contacts and care will be taken to communicate with people from different 'public' groups in different and audience appropriate ways. The University is fully committed to supporting the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research, which has at its heart the idea that engaging with the public should be part of the role of researchers in any discipline - to improve the quality of research and its impact, widen research horizons, enhance communication and influence skills, build new partnerships and, ultimately, to support social change and the 'public good'. Excellent practice abounds across research priority areas which the university has identified and indeed across all disciplines but this is yet to be fully coordinated and evaluated.

To ensure long-term impact and real sustainability the University’s approach will create pathways into harder to reach communities, a demographic that does not traditionally engage with higher education, rather than the standard/usual user demographic (middle class/educated). This includes an intention to go out into public spaces - sports stadia/pubs/retail outlets/arts venues - and a mechanism for holding researchers to account. By these means - and an increased profile internally for public engagement with research, as well as workload modelling to allow for a focus on public engagement – the University will access an academic/research community who either do not think that public engagement is their responsibility or believe that only other academics would be interested in their field of research. This creates long-term potential for impact and sustainability internally.

The aim is to invest in the development of effectiveness measures for public engagement activities by providing additional support to the work of the Community Partnerships unit to expand their research in the use of a social impact tool for measurement/metrics, whilst using the COP as a group for developing metrics to better benchmark and evaluate staff engagement and cultural capital.


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