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Queen Mary University of London

Principal investigator: Professor Peter McOwan
Title: Centre for Public Engagement
Project contact: Charlotte Thorley (

Queen Mary University of London (QM) has a century-old history of Public Engagement. Originally founded as the 'People's Palace' in 1887, it works with East End schools, local, regional and national government, cultural organisations, businesses, social entrepreneurs and charities. The ambition is to ensure that its research is meaningful and important to many publics, so that it can be clearly demonstrated how research at QM is changing people's lives. The College does this by informing, consulting and collaborating with a wide range of publics and intends to do more to highlight the research taking place in every part of the College. From the work undertaken by the six Beacons and through its own activities, the College has learnt that it is crucial to see Public Engagement as a sustained set of networks and connections with publics and communities, rather than as a series of special, one-off events. Using, the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement's 'EDGE' tool, the College has identified that it is now poised to move onto the 'Embedding Phase'.

It is easy, in focusing on the areas in which have been successful to think that enough has been done to create a culture change across the whole institution, however this is only the start of the transformation. To ensure that public engagement becomes something that is undertaken as part of everyday academic activity the College will review all aspects of its training, probation, and promotions policies as well as other strategies and initiatives.

As a tangible demonstration of their institutional commitment to make this systematic, high-level shift, the College has created a new Centre for Public Engagement and has recently appointed a new Vice-Principal for External Partnerships and Public Engagement. Professor Peter McOwan will be responsible for delivering the College's emerging public engagement strategy and will be a full member of its Senior Executive reporting directly to the Principal. With this significant development, the aim is to bring together the existing multiple, high quality, public engagement activities to share best practice with new and emerging activities. This in turn, will allow QM to catalyse public engagement not only in London, but also nationally and internationally.

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