From 2017-2019, Heriot-Watt University was funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to create, enrich and embed cultures within higher education institutions where excellent public engagement with research (PER) is more effectively and strategically supported.
The Strategic Support to Expedite Embedding Public Engagement with Research (SEE-PER) project, led by Prof. Garry Pender and Dr Laura Wicks, enabled us to explore the barriers and challenges to engaging the public in our research, and embed mechanisms to address these challenges.
We used an evidence-based approach to embed public engagement within the University strategy and management priorities. We consulted widely with stakeholders about how we can truly create a culture where public engagement is valued and supported – both internally within the University, and within our local communities.
Our awareness-raising activities included piloting high-profile events, public engagement champions and networks, and training opportunities. Learning from these activities has enabled us to see what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t. The success of the interventions is demonstrated by the high profile of PER within the new University strategy, the imminent launch of the PER Implementation plan, and the revised structures and support mechanisms within the institution.