The University of Dundee is transforming lives in our city, region and around the world. These social and cultural benefits can only be realised by working with others and sharing and our research, teaching and professional practice. The pathway to realising these benefits is known as public engagement, and the University of Dundee is passionate about embedding public engagement in all that we do.
Our commitment to public engagement at the University is outlined in our Public Engagement Strategy. This strategy outlines how we support our staff and students to engage with others, and sets out our ambitious plans to build on our excellent engagement activity.
Defining Public Engagement
Public engagement describes the many ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared beyond the University sector. We realise that the term 'public engagement' is interpreted in many ways by different people and we take some time here to share what this means to us.
Public engagement 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 supports and adopts 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."
The reach and impacts of public engagement go beyond the public audiences that its name may suggest. Our Public Engagement and Major Events team, and colleagues in our Schools and Directorates engage with a diverse range of partners. These include community groups, school children & teachers, politicians and policy makers, business and our cultural partners. The NCCPE website features a good summary of Who are the public?
Responsibility for public engagement goes beyond our network of dedicated 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.
The University's Public Engagement Forum
Our Public Engagement Forum is a group of leaders and champions of public engagement from all of our academic Schools and our professional services Directorates. Meetings are chaired by Prof John Rowan, our Vice-Principal for Research, Knowledge Exchange and Wider Impact.
The Public Engagement Forum first met in May 2018, and meets every two months. The Forum is action-focused and is leading the University's efforts to embed our already excellent public engagement activity in all that we do.
The Forum aims to
- Implement and raise awareness of our Public Engagement Strategy that states our vision and sets out the ways in which we support engagement in our University community
- Support the sharing and development of best practice between different areas of the University
- Help the University of Dundee to become Scotland's most engaged University
To find out more about the Forum visit the Public Engagement Forum webpage.
Public Engagement Network
Our Public Engagement Network is a group of people invested in public engagement. We are staff or students who have direct roles in delivering, advising or supporting public and community engagement activity.
The Public Engagement Network launched September 2019, and meets every 6-8 weeks. The Network creates a supportive environment where staff and students from all disciplines can develop their engaged practice, and be part of a community where everyone is valued.
If you have a specific role or responsibility for public engagement in your School or Directorate, and would like to join the Public Engagement Network, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Engagement Watermarks
University of Dundee Gold Watermark for Public Engagement
In 2020 the University of Dundee became the first university in Scotland – and only the third in the UK – to receive a Gold Engage Watermark in recognition of our commitment to public engagement.
The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) runs the Engage Watermark – a charter mark awarded to universities for excellence in their support and practice of public engagement in all aspects of their work.
We were awarded the highest level of award following a rigorous assessment involving staff from across the University and partner organisations.
Just as a watermark runs through the fabric of a document, an Engage Watermark indicates that engagement runs through the fabric of our University.
Leverhulme Research Centre of Forensic Science Gold Watermark for Public Engagement
In December 2019, the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science was only the second faculty to be awarded a Gold Engage Watermark. Their work has seen forensic science and legal practitioners as well as citizens play an active role in helping to improve the use and understanding of science in the justice system.
Public engagement is a major feature of the Centre’s work, with members of the public contributing to major citizen science projects and shaping the way in which forensic science research is planned, conducted and communicated.
Professor Niamh Nic Daeid, Director of LRCFS, said, “We are absolutely delighted to receive this award, which recognises our vision to promote the importance of engagement between the entire justice community and the public in promoting an understanding of the science, and its limitations, behind the forensic evidence presented in our courts.”
Life Sciences Gold Watermark for Public Engagement
In December 2017, the University's School of Life Sciences were awarded a prestigious Gold Engage Watermark for its work in bringing world-class science to the wider community.
The School is the first to receive the faculty Engage Watermark from the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement, demonstrating that they are a beacon of excellence when it comes to sharing the work they do with the wider community and show how public engagement has built substantial momentum over several years.
In January 2018, in consultation with staff and students, the School of Life Sciences published their Public Engagement with Research Strategy.
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:
- Our School of Life Sciences - Why Engage? publication
- Wellcome's report on Factors affecting public engagement by researchers,
- UKRI's publication What's in it for me? The benefits of public engagement for researchers and
- Vitae's publication The Engaging Researcher (registered users only).