Nick Mahony and Hilde Stephansen, The Open University
A case study of the Participation Now project
If you are reading this blog, you’ll no doubt be aware that public engagement is high on the agenda within higher education and many other domains. You’ll also probably be aware that researchers face increasing pressures – from their institutions, funders and colleagues – to engage publics and produce evidence of the ‘impact’ and ‘relevance’ of their research. However, little systematic attention has so far been paid to what precisely is meant by the ‘public’ in public engagement.
What happens if we put the ‘public’ at the centre of our efforts to conceptualise, conduct and evaluate publicly engaged research? This question formed the starting point for a presentation that we gave at the Open University on 9th June as part of the Engaging Research seminar series.
Dr Hilde Stephansen
Hilde was a Research Associate on the OU’s Catalyst project. She is now based at the University of Westminster where she lectures in Sociology.
Hilde’s role on the Catalyst was linked to two projects: to the Catalyst and to Creating Publics. Through her contributions to these projects explored new ways of conceptualising and enacting public engagement with social science research.
Hilde contributed to the delivery and development of a Creating Publics research ‘pilot’, called Participation Now. This involved translating the research aims of the project into a specification and design for a new digital platform for public engagement with research. She then helped translate insights drawn from this research pilot into the context of the Catalyst project and to others beyond.