Past projects

In the section below, you can explore our past projects. If you are interested in finding out more or accessing specific resources, please get in touch. You can also see some of the University's engagement activities on the archived Public Engagement Stories site.

FUTURES (2018-2020)

Two women wearing VR headsetsFUTURES is a Festival of Discovery which took place in Bristol and Bath in September 2018 and 2019. Since then the consortium has expanded across the South West of England and the festival took place virtually in November 2020. It is part of European Researchers' Night, a Europe-wide event that takes place every year to celebrate cutting-edge research across Europe. 2018-2019 events involved over 490 researchers and students and engaged over 10,000 people across Bristol and Bath. Events took place at We The Curious, Brunel's SS Great Britain, Holburne Museum and many other venues across both cities. It was funded by the European Commission through Horizon 2020. You can read about the 2019 activities and feedback here: FUTURES2019_Summary (PDF, 818kB) To find out more about the current FUTURES activities please contact the FUTURES team.

Shape Your World (2019)

Drawing of a robotShape your World was coordinated in partnership with Widening Participation, as part of the Future Quest initiative. It was a collaborative project bringing researchers and school students together to explore topical issues and current research in the Faculties of Engineering and Science using a Philosophy of Science approach, with a focus on climate change, robotics and digital health. It developed the researchers' skills and confidence in engaging, raised students' aspirations and supported teachers to use current research in their teaching. 

PERFORM (2015-2018)

PERFORM research ethics workshopPERFORM was a European Commission-funded research project investigating innovative education methods based on performing arts. These methods were used to explore science and society issues and ethical implications of scientific research through performance and philosophical discussions. Our role involved developing training for researchers in performance and reflexivity. We designed a training toolkit aimed at researchers and created a toolkit for science teachers in collaboration with the Centre for Science and Philosophy and Kilter Theatre

RRI Residential (2017)

Researchers taking part in the BrisSynBio RRI Residential in 2017In 2017 we worked with BrisSynBio and ONCE Arts Collective to develop a unique residential course exploring Responsible Research and Innovation in synthetic biology through artistic practice.  This two-day workshop was open to PhD students and early career researchers working in synthetic biology across the University.  Our first cohort reflected deeply upon what it means to be a scientist working at the cutting edge of bio-design, and where this work might take humanity, through painting, songwriting, singing, nature walks, gentle yet powerful conversations, poetry and creative challenges. 
If you are interested in arranging and funding a similar experience for a cohort of researchers in any discipline, please contact the team via


Synenergene (2013-2017)

 People with smiling and sad paper faces. SYNENERGENE was a European Commission-funded research project that aimed to start conversations about synthetic biology with communities as well as people working in science, industry, education, and the arts. It provided researchers with an opportunity to understand public concerns whilst community members could help shape the future direction of the field. We led activities to open up conversations about synthetic biology and its opportunities, risks and challenges. One of our key activities was Invincible, an immersive theatre production developed in collaboration with BrisSynBio and Kilter Theatre. Invincible transported audiences to a family home in 2047, exploring the lives of three generations of women and their views and experiences on the use of synthetic biology.

Public Engagement in SPHERE (2013-2018)

Women talking. Credit Antonis VafeasSPHERE is a research project bringing together over 100 researchers from three universities and industrial and engagement partners, to develop sensors for the home. The project explores how to combine multiple streams of data to support clinical care, prediction of illness and to open up new avenues in early diagnosis. The Public Engagement team worked in partnership with future end users and local people who have the unique experience of living with these new technologies as participants in the research. Key activities included developing a public advisory group of individuals and healthcare professionals to enable public and user views to feed into the development of the project.

Einstein's Garden (2015-2017)

Girl and woman smiling in ribbonsEinstein’s Garden is a playful science garden at the heart of the Green Man Festival. From 2015-2017, thanks to a Wellcome Trust Society Award, University of Bristol researchers collaborated with artists and the Einstein's Garden team to create unique Garden experiences. In 2017, The Party Animals installation encouraged visitors to play party games that explored research from the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group. In 2016, Dynamic Cell combined puppetry, origami and research in genetics and genomics to recreate the world of a single cell. Get in touch with the team to find out more about taking part in future festivals and check out the Einstein's Garden website for more inspirational projects.

SUPI - School-University Partnership Initiative (2013-2017)

SUPI school students working. SUPI was a national project where 12 universities were funded by Research Councils UK to bring research into the classroom. The project was developed in partnership with local schools. This included training for researchers and supporting students completing the Extended Project Qualification alongside their A Levels. We matched students with researchers as part of the “EPQ Mentoring Fair” where small groups of students received advice from a researcher working in a similar field to their project. You can read more about the project in our article for Research For All. We still support students completing EPQs in collaboration with the Home Recruitment and Conversion team. Please contact Ellie Cripps for more information.

Bristol Bright Night (2014-2015)

Children experimenting. Credit Jon Craig. As part of the European Commission-funded European Researchers’ Night initiative, in 2014 and 2015 we hosted Bristol Bright Night. It was a collaboration between the University of Bristol, University of the West of England and Bristol Natural History Consortium which celebrated the diversity of research in Bristol in a single event-packed day. Activities included: street theatre where science met art and hit the streets of Bristol via wacky and wonderful pop-up street performances; a researchers’ fair where over 2000 people explored research exhibits and met the people behind the research; bite sized talks where researchers shared their work in 7 minutes and many more! Check out the videos: Bristol Bright Night 2014 and Bristol Bright Night 2015.

Know your Bristol (2012-2015)

Older men sitting togetherKnow your Bristol, a partnership between the University of Bristol, Bristol City Council and community groups, aimed to enable people to explore local history and culture through the eyes of Bristol's communities. It was funded by AHRC with additional funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. We collaborated with community groups to create a community history layer on Bristol City Council’s online interactive map, Know Your Place. Community members came together to enrich the map with their own knowledge and content. At a series of events co-designed with local residents, people brought stories about each place, including family histories and memories of places, as well as films, family photographs, and historical artefacts. Find out more about Know Your Bristol through the project website.

Seeds of Change (2012-2013)

Children planting. Seeds of Change was a 12 month creative learning project funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and involving 11 Bristol primary schools and 5 community groups. We led activities alongside the Arnolfini and the University’s Botanic Garden and it involved 28 university students, five university researchers and three artists. It gave local people the opportunity to take part in creative workshops and design and build their own gardens with “ballast seeds” - those that were transported to Bristol in the ballast in ships. The project was based on artist Maria Thereza Alves’ investigation of ballast flora in European port cities as part of her Floating Garden project. It aimed to increase understanding of different heritages and the city’s trading and maritime past.