Over recent years, STFC’s Public Engagement Team has undertaken a series of strategic reviews to better understand and refine the systems used to create, support, and evaluate high-quality public engagement in the STFC community. (STFC is the Science and Technology Facilities Council.) The most recent of these is called Pathways to Excellence in Public Engagement.
A Catalyst for PEACE
Given my previous role as the operational lead on the OU’s Public Engagement with Research (PER) Catalyst, An Open Research University, I was delighted to be involved in two of these important reviews.
In the first instance, I was a member of the review team that produced the PEACE Report (Public Engagement: Attitudes, Culture and Ethos).
This review uncovered STFC researchers’ perceptions of the challenges and opportunities they faced in the course of balancing engagement activities alongside their scientific and engineering careers (see ‘Give PEACE a chance’).
Together with the findings from the PER Catalyst programme (NCCPE, 2016), the PEACE report answered some significant questions in relation to how researchers are adapting to the routine requirements to plan for, enact and evidence impacts derived from publicly-funded research.
Collectively, these pieces of work also raised other important questions, not least in relation to whether Pathways to Impact Planning in its current form was consistently delivering rigorous, well-resourced programmes of impact-generating activity.
Pathways to Excellence in Public Engagement
It is in this context that I was asked by the STFC Public Engagement Team to lead a review to explore these important issues. The recently published PEPE Report (Pathways to Excellence in Public Engagement) Report is the result of this review.