Flagship projects

Two women dressed as clowns shooting air at eachother, with crowd in the background

The Public Engagement team at the University of Bristol is at the forefront of cutting-edge public engagement practice in the UK. As well as building institutional capacity for public engagement, we develop our own pioneering public engagement projects, providing innovative ways for the University to connect with publics, and keeping us relevant and sector-leading amongst our peers.

We bring in funding from a wide variety of sources and in particular have a strong track record of successful bids to European funding bodies. We have led on three large-scale projects funded by the European Commission through their FP7 and Horizon 2020 programmes: Synenergene, PERFORM, and FUTURES. We collaborate with our expanding Europe-wide networks of University and public engagement professionals to inform future bids and partnership projects.


A key thread running through many of our projects has been responsibility in science and innovation – very much inspired by the EU theme within Horizon 2020 of Responsible Research and Innovation. For us this has meant working with researchers to develop their reflexive capacities, thinking about what responsibility means in the context of their work, and how engagement plays a role in their responsibilities as researchers and innovators.

Undertaking this work with researchers has led us to reflect on our own practice, and think about how we might apply the techniques and approaches of reflexivity to the way that we work as engagement practitioners. This is already having wider ranging impacts, from the way that we plan projects, and build in reflexivity into the process, to the legacy of projects and taking care of the relationships we have created.

Art-Science Collaborations

Dovetailing with the team’s work on RRI is our development of art-science collaborations. We have instigated a wide variety of collaborations between the sciences and the arts, and have a long history of using art to make science intelligible.

For us, however, the process is as powerful as the product. We value art-science collaborations for the transformative effect on both researcher and artist alike – for the unique questions artists ask of scientists and their practice, and the new worlds scientists can help artists explore. These collaborations help us get to the heart of the social and ethical implications of scientific progress, and reflect on them, together with audiences in a truly meaningful way.

Public Engagement for Impact

Helping researchers to prove the impact of their Public Engagement activities is a key focus for us, not only as part of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) but in a wider context too. Kate Miller worked with the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) on their national Review of Public Engagement in REF 2014. This report has informed the development of an evidence base for clearly demonstrating how Public Engagement can be an effective route to impact.

Through working closely with researchers, the Public Engagement team have developed an evaluative approach to increasing the impact of research through high-quality public involvement. Showing the value external audiences bring to research is an intrinsic part of this ethos. We have examples of how working with the public at all stages of research, from developing questions to sharing the learning, can immensely enhance the benefits for all involved.

Contact us

If you would like to get involved with one of our flagship projects, contact the Public Engagement team.

Email: cpe-info@bristol.ac.uk

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Guides and resourcesAn engage conference workshop

‌Feeling inspired? Some of our flagship projects have associated toolkits and resources on public engagement. Check out our guides and resources page.

Past project case studies and evaluationstraining

We are committed to evaluating our projects and activities and sharing the results. You can read case studies and evaluation reports from our past projects here.