A new Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research was launched by the UK’s research funding bodies today. The aim of the RCUK Concordat is to create a greater focus on and help embed public engagement with research across all disciplines in the higher education and research sectors.
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science said:
“Engaging people with science and engineering has never been more important. In an increasingly technological world, everyone needs to understand the benefits and potential concerns around new developments which may affect us all. Science engagement can help the public become part of a national conversation on some of the big issues like climate change and renewable energy, ensuring that researchers and policy makers understand the impact of leading research.”
The Concordat, which you can read here has four principles that signatories have agreed:
- UK research organisations have a strategic commitment to public engagement.
- Researchers are recognised and valued for their involvement with public engagement activities.
- Researchers are enabled to participate in public engagement activities through appropriate training, support and opportunities.
- The signatories and supporters will undertake regular reviews of their and the wider research sector’s progress in fostering public engagement across the UK.
Also for your viewing pleasure, RCUK uploaded a new film to YouTube this week which features interviews with leading figures from the academic and research communities. Click the image to view.
I’ll be reading the report with interest. In particular I want to know how this initiative will learn lessons from and connect with the existing and excellent Beacons for Public Engagement programme which was launched in 2008 to support, recognise and reward the public engagement activity in Higher Education.
The Manchester Beacon, which is funded by HEFCE, RCUK and the Wellcome Trust, is already delivering a stimulating programme of events and activities across Greater Manchester, and you can see their calendar of upcoming events here.
Other beacons are Beacon North-East, CUE East, UCL, Beacon for Wales and Edinburgh Beltane. There is also a National Coordinating Centre in Bristol, which helps share learning between the beacons and more widely. So if you are interested in research and science, I recommend you find a Beacon near you, and get involved!