This page highlights some specific opportunities for students and staff of the MRL to become involved in public engagement activity plus a few ideas for approaches. A great way to keep public engagement on your personal agenda is to sign up for the University PE monthly bulletin.
To enquire about a specific opportunity, discuss an idea or get in touch with others speak to Jane Sugars, the PE contact for the MRL. If you’re looking for someone to work with on a PE project you could also find others through the Cambridge Metabolic Network.
Build your knowledge and confidence.
- From time to time the University PE team offers training opportunities designed to help you get involved in public engagement.
- The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) also lists training opportunities.
NOW BOOKING: dates have been published for the 2018 Rising Stars course run by the University. Participants attend five half-day sessions between January and March. Sessions cover:
- Introduction to public engagement
- Creating innovative interactive and hands-on activities for public Festivals
- Communication skills and creating engaging content
- Essential event co-ordination; marketing, health & safety, event evaluation
Applications close on 5th January.
Please speak to Jane if you have ideas for training that you think would make your public engagement more successful.
Festivals and events
A great way to get face time with members of the public without having to organise a whole event yourself!
- Currently looking for volunteers to help at the Cambridge Big Biology Day at Hills Road Sixth Form College on Saturday 14th October. We’ll be running an activities stand and careers stand jointly with the MRC Epidemiology Unit. Please contact Jane if you’re interested.
- The NCCPE have listings of funding sources for public engagement activity arranged by discipline.
- Do you need help writing a Public Engagement grant application or the PE section of a research grant? Contact us – we may be able to help or put you in touch with an appropriate person.
Competitions and awards
Entering competitions can not only offer recognition for your Public Engagement work but can help you to hone your skills and generate materials and publicity that can engage members of the public directly.
FameLab is an international competition open to scientists, mathematicians and engineers that challenges you to convey a scientific concept in just 3 minutes. Registration for FameLab UK 2017 is now open and the competition will include a heat in Cambridge. National winners compete at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival in June 2017.
Doctoral candidates in any discipline can enter a three Minute thesis competition (3MT) – a concept developed by the University of Queensland to support graduate students’ capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. Some Cambridge colleges run competitions.
Science Showoff is ‘a chaotic open mic night for scientists, science communicators, science teachers, historians and philosophers of science, students, science popularisers and anyone else with something to show off about science’. So perhaps this might appeal to a certain type of person… Events are sometimes organised around the country, for example our very own Claire Adams recently participated in Science Showoff: are you being nursed? run by the Royal College of Nursing in Cambridge. The Cambridge Bright Club runs similar events.
Two of our research nurses won this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s ‘Public Engagement in Research Award’. Congratulations to Jane Kennet and Katerina Anselmiova who won with Dr Frank Waldron-Lynch.
The next UK national Engage competition will run in 2019.
Other PE ideas – to suit all personality types!
If you’re sold on the idea of Public Engagement but you’d prefer not to see yourself on TV or to take centre stage, then you could consider other approaches to play to your particular strengths. Here are just a few suggestions (please suggest others and we’ll share them here):
- Write – articles, a blog, for a website…in a style that will inform and engage a non-scientific audience. Can you make it two-way by inviting comment or debate? Can you produce materials suitable to use in an educational setting?
- Produce materials that are easy to follow such as videos or infographics
- Consider engaging the public using a citizen science approach
- Use social media (see the University’s social media guidance)
- Include patient and public involvement in your plans
- Work with museums or other public buildings to stage exhibits
- Support public engagement activity as part of a team
Stuck for ideas?
Examples and case studies from past or current PE projects can also provide inspiration. The NCCPE website offers a range of case studies.