What is public engagement?

Public engagement describes the many ways in which staff and students interact with the public, from developing research ideas collaboratively to sharing the outcomes with as many different people as possible. It creates an opportunity for people to exchange ideas and information and learn from each other.

Public engagement is also important in the national higher education agenda. We understand that:

  • Universities have to be more open and accountable, especially around the societal and ethical implications of research
  • Knowledge is not only generated in universities; working in partnership enables us to tackle the complex challenges facing society
  • There has been an increase in public interest in research and its outcomes and how policy makers use that research
  • Funders are asking about the impact of research on the wider world – some of which can be demonstrated through public engagement
  • There is a greater focus on the educational and experiential offer made to students, and in providing fair access to an education that equips students for their future lives.

To get a flavour of the diversity of public engagement work at the University, read our Public Engagement Stories

Public engagement can provide a variety of benefits to staff and students as well as to the University and the wider public. It can:

  • Open up new research directions
  • Encourage collaborations within and outside the academic community
  • Increase funding success and open up new funding streams
  • Build communication and other transferable skills
  • Provide new perspectives and help researchers see the broader context of their work
  • Raise the profile of research
  • Inspire young people and attract new students
  • Be recognised in promotion and progression criteria at the University
  • Demonstrate impact and outcomes from research
  • Be enjoyable and personally rewarding

The Public Engagement team can help researchers plan, develop and evaluate public engagement activity, support grant and funding applications and offer training. See our resources page for more information, or for more on delivering and assessing the impact of your research, visit the Research and Enterprise Development website

If you are interested in getting involved in public engagement, talk to a member of our team or email cpe-info@bristol.ac.uk

Researcher and children around exhibit at Discover 2010 Matt Brown speaking on the Bolivarian Republicschild microscopeMembers of the public in the Bioblitz tent