Our flagship projects
We run projects to build our staff and students' capacity and confidence to engage, create connections with community and cultural partners and to provide a supportive culture of engagement across the University. These are 10 of our most significant projects which we think showcase best practice in engagement in a whole range of ways.
Thinking Science was a collaborative project between our team, the Centre for Science and Philosophy and the Cabot Learning Federation to create resources based on Philosophy of Science research. The resources map onto the secondary school science curriculum and are free for science teachers to use. We also coordinated training to accompany the resources which aimed to improve students' thinking skills and engagement with science and increase teachers' confidence in facilitating dialogue activities in the science classroom.
Re-Cognition is a European Horizon 2020 funded project delivered in collaboration with partners across Europe (Italy, Greece, Romania, Switzerland, Netherlands, Slovenia). The project aims to enable zero-energy buildings by creating buildings that utilise and store energy from multiple renewable energy technologies (i.e. solar, wind). By pairing this technology with AI software that can learn the exact energy requirements of the building at any time, buildings will be able to efficiently produce and use their own energy. Through training, focus groups and public engagement initiatives we will challenge partners to anticipate the positive and negative impacts of the project on society.
PERFORM 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.
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
SPHERE 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.
SUPI - School-University Partnership Initiative
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 and together we developed a range of activities that responded to the needs of teachers and students. This included: bespoke training for researchers in engaging schools, subject-specific teacher CPD, student-led research projects in collaboration with academics and supporting students completing the Extended Project Qualification alongside their A Levels. You can read about the lessons learnt from the SUPI projects at universities across the UK in this guide.
Know your Bristol
Know 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.
Einstein’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.
Green Capital: Student Capital
In 2015 Bristol became the first UK city to be designated European Green Capital. The involvement of Higher Education institutions in previous Green Capitals had been limited and so the Green Capital: Student Capital project aimed to change this by putting students at the heart of Bristol’s European Green Capital 2015 year. The project was a partnership with the University of the West of England (UWE), both universities’ Students’ Unions, and the city and local communities. It aimed to mobilise the student community to support the creation of a sustainable, inclusive city, and to support students to develop change agent skills through engaging in the transformation of their city.
FUTURES - Bristol Bright Night
FUTURES is a unique public engagement collaboration between the University of Bath, Bath Spa University, University of Bristol, University of Exeter and University of Plymouth. It is the largest celebration of research in the region funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe MSC Actions programmes. Futures 2018 – 2021, and their predecessor Bristol Bright Night 2014-16, were part of the European Researchers Night, dedicated to explaining research through fun and interactive learning. Futures events aimed to engage a wide range of people from the South West of England with research and innovation and showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage and innovation talent.
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Visit our dedicated Public Engagement Stories website for more examples of activities to inspire and encourage you to become involved in engagement.