Public, community, and cultural engagement

We support our staff and students in their public, community and cultural engagement work, by fostering links with communities, cultural organisations and the public engagement sector.

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The University of Dundee aims to transform lives in our city, region and around the world. These social and cultural benefits can only be realised by working with others. We also share our research, teaching and professional practice.

The pathway to realising these benefits is known as public engagement. We are passionate about embedding public engagement in all that we do.

We outline our commitment to public engagement in our Public Engagement Strategy. This strategy details how we support our staff and students to engage with others. It also sets out our ambitious plans to build on our excellent engagement activity.

Defining Public Engagement

Public engagement describes the many ways in which the work of the University can be shared externally.

Public engagement, for us, is a two-way process that has mutual benefit for our staff & students, and our external partners and audiences. The University is committed to the highest standards of Public Engagement. We are proud to be a signatory of the Manifesto for Public Engagement.

In the UK's Higher Education sector, public engagement is supported by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE). The University of Dundee has adopted the National Co-ordinating Centre's inclusive definition of public engagement:

“Public engagement describes the [many different] ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit.”

National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement's definition of public engagement

Our public engagement work goes beyond the public audiences that its name may suggest. Our Public Engagement team, with colleagues in our Schools and Directorates engage with a diverse range of partners. These include:

  • community groups
  • school children and teachers
  • politicians and policy makers
  • businesses
  • cultural partners

The NCCPE website features a good summary of Who are the public?

Public engagement is not only the responsibility of our network of public engagement professionals. All staff and students are encouraged to take part in public engagement activities at every stage of their academic and professional careers. This helps fulfil the University’s aim of being an engaged institution.

We have found that done well, public engagement is a pathway that delivers many positive impacts and benefits to all who participate.

Public Engagement Forum

Our Public Engagement Forum is a group of leaders and champions of public engagement from our Schools and Directorates.

The Public Engagement Forum was created in May 2018, and meets every two months. The Forum leads the University's efforts to embed our excellent engagement in all that we do.

Find out more about the Public Engagement Forum

Public Engagement Network

Our Public Engagement Network is a group of staff and students invested in public engagement. We have roles in delivering, advising or supporting public and community engagement activities.

The Public Engagement Network launched in September 2019, and meets every 6-8 weeks. The Network creates a supportive environment where our members can develop their practice, and become part of our community.

Find out more about our Public Engagement Network

Public Involvement Network

Our Public Involvement Network formed in September 2022. It is open to all staff and students. It focuses on activities where participants are an integral part of the engagement work such as:

  • patient groups to inform our research
  • service users working with colleagues in health sciences, dentistry and social work

The network creates a supportive environment where staff and students can develop their practice and become part of a community.

The network is convened by Dr Jean McEwan-Short and Dr Leeanne McGurk. Please contact them to learn more about the Network and upcoming meetings.

Our watermarks

A watermark is a charter mark awarded to universities for excellence in their support and practice of public engagement in all aspects of their work.

Watermarks acknowledge not just the level of public engagement activity but strategic support across the organisation, as well as the plans to develop this work in the future.

Find out more about the watermarks that we hold
Why we support and encourage engagement

Public engagement is essential to our vision to connect with communities and transform lives locally and globally. It is only through sharing our experiences that we can co-create a culture of curiosity, confidence, and engagement. By listening to and learning from our partners and audiences, we work with our community to achieve impact that benefits all society.

You can read more reasons to get involved in the following:

Contact information


+44 (0)1382 386669