The RELIEF Centre's public engagement strategy is recognised as Quality Engagement at the NCCPE #Engage2018 conference / by Institute for Global Prosperity

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The RELIEF Centre at NCCPE #Engage2018

The RELIEF Centre was invited to present its public engagement strategy and activity as part of the UK’s National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) annual conference, #Engage2018 on Thursday 29 November 2018 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

This was a particularly special year to take part in this conference as it celebrated its 10th anniversary. The theme of the conference was ‘Framing new Futures for Public Engagement’, a total of 350 delegates attended, with presentations from distinguished guests including the co-UNESCO Chair for Community-based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, the Director of Public Programmes at National Museums Scotland, and the Chief Executive of Arts Council England.

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Quality Engagement and Inspirational Practice

Quality engagement

What makes for quality engagement, and why does it matter? Come and learn from different practices of engagement, across different disciplines, participant groups, and contexts. Test out our draft quality framework, and consider the principles that underpin your work. Share your ideas, and explore whether we can find commonalities in what makes engagement work well, and help us improve the quality and practice of engagement in the future?

Communications and Impact Officer, Annelise Andersen was invited to host a table as part of the “Quality Engagement” mini-plenary, which formed part of the Inspirational Practice Workshops at #Engage2018. Presenting to a table of international delegates from five different countries, and feeding back to a room of 120 delegates, Annelise gave a talk about how the RELIEF Centre constructed and was managing its public engagement strategy. This was followed by Annelise facilitating a wider conversation with fellow delegates about creating and enacting creative, inclusive and flexible public engagement strategies for research projects with international partners.

NCCPE Public Engagement principles

The purpose of this mini plenary was to help consult on a set of principles of engagement being developed by the NCCPE. We were asked to consider which, if any, of the principles were used in the public engagement work of the RELIEF Centre. The draft principles are as follows:

PRINCIPLE 1: PURPOSE

I will put purpose at the heart of my engagement

PRINCIPLE 2: PEOPLE-FOCUSED

I will strive to ensure my engagement is appropriate to the participants and framed around their needs

PRINCIPLE 3: MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL

I will commit to establishing a way of working that is mutually beneficial for myself and my partners

PRINCIPLE 4: PROFESSIONAL

I will value engagement as a professional endeavour and plan my projects appropriately

PRINCIPLE 5: LEARNING

I will build reflection and improvement into the engagement work I am part of

The RELIEF Centre Public Engagement Strategy

RELIEF approaches public engagement as conversation rather than dissemination, as dialogue rather than one-way communication. Given this ethos, we have adapted a flexible, collaborative and integrated public engagement strategy. There are of course parameters to this, but we want all our researchers to be empowered to suggest ideas and creative alternative, transformative ways of doing public engagement that can be integrated into our research. This will help us to:

  1. Create and maintain dialogues with a range of audiences to communicate the work and ideas of the communities we work with

  2. Garner interest from a range of audiences to join us for the journey of the project

  3. Use our research to create more effective, impactful change

With this in mind, the conversation around our table at the #Engage2018 mini plenary focused on NCCPE Principles 2 and 3 (however we could see the value and relevance of all five). As an international group of delegates ourselves, we discussed the challenges and opportunities that come from considering what public engagement means in different countries and in different educational contexts. We discussed the communities that already exist that provide an environment for learning about public engagement practice in cross-country environments, and explored the possibility of pursuing more professional networks to help develop this area of work further.

It was an honour for our work to be considered of such excellence that it should be used as a basis from which to test the NCCPE’s Principles of Public Engagement. We were delighted to be considered an example of Quality Engagement at this major international public engagement conference and look forward to seeing how we can continue contributing to wider conversations around public engagement practice in the future.