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Public engagement strategy


In this section:Researcher in lab


Purpose and vision


Public engagement (PE) is not a new or separate activity for the University but rather is an integral part of activity connected with research, teaching, learning and knowledge exchange. PE is a vehicle for informing others about what we do as an institution, and facilitates engagement with us.


PE may be carried out by an individual, group, department, faculty, or at institutional level. The University has already set out its commitment to PE by signing the manifesto for public engagement and by its continued partnership with Beltane Public Engagement Network.


Our vision is to create a culture where engagement is naturally embedded at all levels across the University.




The Public Engagement Working Group (PEWG) has considered all aspects of PE and we have put forward the following definition:


Public engagement is about sharing our work with wider society to grow mutually beneficial relationships


This definition encompasses the dynamic interaction between the University and our audience.  Note that the PE strategy is separate, but complementary to the Community Engagement Strategy.


Strategic objectives

  • To embed PE as a core part of good teaching, learning, research and knowledge exchange.
  • To support staff and students to become confident practitioners in PE by development of a network and support infrastructure.
  • To showcase and reward excellence in PE.


  • Residents of the local community, City of Edinburgh and East Scotland.
  • Local businesses and business organisations.
  • Local schools and colleges.
  • Community, voluntary and special interest groups.
  • Media organisations.
  • National and local government.
  • Regional and local authority economic development organisations.
  • Users of the World Wide Web.



Students in the computer games labTaking into account the current review of research infrastructure, the University should ensure that assistance is provided from Research Support to enable staff to take part in high quality, PE activity.


To facilitate this, the University should consider the creation of the role Public Engagement Officer, to work with a PE steering group, as a central point to carry out the following:

  • Stimulation, support of, and facilitation of activity across the institution.
  • Co-ordination and recording of engagement activities across the institution.
  • Creation of opportunities for engagement.
  • Development of staff and student skills for PE.
  • Support departmental/faculty ‘champions’.
  • Lead the evaluation of PE projects.
  • Develop and maintain relationships with external organisations / communities.
  • Develop and maintain a database of PE practitioners and activity from across the institution.
  • Develop and maintain intranet and internet presence to showcase good practice in PE across the institution.
  • Form links with PE practitioners external to the University.
  • Represent the University at PE networking events and PE conferences.
  • Work with IDEA and the media team to provide a link between university staff and students, and the media.



The University will make appropriate resources available for use by groups external to the University, including space for events led by public groups. The University will continue to improve its provision of spaces for interaction between external groups and the institution including space for exhibitions, discussion and other events that reflect the strategic objectives of this strategy.


Action Plan


To enable the delivery of the strategic objectives, the University will:

  • Appoint a Public Engagement Officer.
  • Establish a PE steering group.
  • Develop a framework for recognising and rewarding PE through appraisal and performance review of staff, including strengthening PE criteria in the promotion, and recruitment and selection processes.
  • Explore ways in which PE can be recognised in the workload model.
  • Celebrate good practice in PE through an annual showcase and PE award.
  • Establish a reporting, monitoring and evaluation procedure for PE activities.
  • Work across all three Faculties to establish, develop and deliver an annual programme of PE activities and events.
  • Ensure that PE is represented in the University’s strategy for research.
  • Establish a close working relationship between IDEA, Research Support and the PE Steering Group to support and promote PE activities.
  • Maintain partnership with Beltane Public Engagement Network by providing funding.
  • Waive fees for the use of rooms/spaces for PE activity.
  • Encourage early stage researchers to develop their PE skills and formally recognise undertaking PE activity as being part of researcher training.

Governance and monitoring


Relevant activity will be reported through the University’s Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee. Faculties and departments should ensure that PE opportunities and promotion of events is in accordance with the Public Engagement Strategy. Evaluation of the effectiveness of PE will be supported and will help to maintain sustainable PE as a core University activity.


We will review this strategy in May 2017.