The Beacon for Wales and Vitae were very pleased to welcome over 100 delegates and presenters from organisations across Wales and the South West to the Wales Millennium Centre for this event. The overarching aim of the day was to inspire researchers to get involved by providing ideas and the opportunity to talk to others about public engagement.
The conference was opened by Professor Mike Edmunds who placed the conference, and public engagement, in its current financial and popular context. Researchers experience many benefits of their public engagement work such as enhanced career opportunities and these were outlined by Dr Chloe Sheppard from Research Councils UK. Later in the morning we heard inspiring case-studies from successful engagers Dr Kelly BéruBé (Cardiff University) and Tom Sperlinger (University of Bristol). Professor Hamish Fyfe from the University of Glamorgan then joined the speakers for a panel discussion of audience questions covering issues in public engagement such as: how much time should people invest and what are the trade-offs for research?
"I met lots of new people and a few potential collaborations may result too"
After lunch we were joined by 50 children from Mount Stuart primary school to experience the power of science theatre to engage and entertain with science made simple’s Visualise:Reloaded. Delegates then chose a parallel session: to explore the use of performance with discussion about Visualise and University College London’s Bright Club, to attend a masterclass on media relations with BBC Wales, to find out more about working with young people and community groups (with case studies of the Genetics and Merthyr Youth and On Common Ground projects), or to investigate further the relationship between research and public engagement with the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.
"Innovative, inspirational and enthusiastically presented…"
One of the highlights of the day was the Pictures of Public Engagement competition which invited delegates to submit an image illustrating how their research affects society. A first prize of £250 was won by Kim Madden from the University of Glamorgan with her image depicting the web of Genetics. Delegates voted Gwen Fernandes from UWIC as the ‘People’s Choice’, and Dr Christine Purslow from Cardiff University was the judge’s runner up. All entries can be viewed here.
Prizes were presented during a closing speech by Professor Ken Woodhouse, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engagement at Cardiff University.
The day has "given me the courage to go out and engage with the public"
Family audiences were able to view an additional showing of Visualise:Reloaded at the Millennium Centre in the evening.
View a gallery of images here