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What is the latest news on the science engagement programme? Here is an update on our progress and planned next steps...

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Hi, I’m Oli Moore, the Science Engagement Facilitator for MPLS. Since December 2020 I have been scoping the new Science Engagement Programme – a joint initiative between MSD and MPLS to provide a platform and support for researchers to work alongside local communities with high quality, effective public engagement with science research.

Throughout January to March I have been speaking to colleagues across the University to find out what people want and need from a new Public Engagement with Research (PER) programme. I am also speaking to organisations outside the University, for example charities, community groups and Oxford and Oxfordshire Councils, to understand what could work from their perspective.

These conversations have been really insightful, and I have used the recommendations to shape development of the programme. The programme comprises three stages: enabling works leading to a co-development process culminating in a celebration event. An outline of these three stages is given below.

  1. The first stage is enabling works where we will upskill researchers and PER support staff to ensure that they have the skills and confidence to undertake effective Public Engagement with Research. We will also provide an onboarding session for community partners so that they are aware of the University resources that they can leverage as part of this programme. Following training and onboarding, we will run facilitated networking and ideation sessions to help researchers and community groups conceive PER projects that will bring mutual benefits for both groups.
  2. The second stage builds upon these seed ideas by supporting researchers and community groups as they co-develop the activity together. This involves regular sessions over a sustained period facilitated by PER support staff to help the researchers and community groups work up their project ideas, ensuring that the final product uses research expertise and insights to address community needs and realise community opportunities. Through this we aim to have a positive impact on research practice, the researchers themselves, and community participants leading to stronger partnerships between the University and community organisations across Oxfordshire.
  3. The third stage is a celebration event where these projects are showcased online and at face-to-face Public Engagement with Research events. This will enable further benefits to diverse audiences across Oxfordshire as they engage with relevant, accessible and innovative research projects run by the University of Oxford researchers.

I presented these stages to the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account funding panel earlier in March and I am pleased to say that they have agreed to partially fund the programme. Now that we have secured this funding we are in a position to begin implementing the plans, so my next steps are to establish an advisory group, and then secure researcher and community groups who would like to participate in the programme.

If you would like to be involved, or are just keen to find out more, please get in touch with Oliver Moore (Science Engagement Facilitator).