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Engage 2011: Plenary Session.

November 29, 2011

This morning I have been at the start of Engage 2011, the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement’s conference in Bristol.

Sophie Duncan, deputy director of the NCCPE, opened the day with a show of hands from the different sectors represented at the conference, showing a good balance of Higher Education researchers and other professionals. One delegate, Rob Greenwood, travelled all the way from Memorial University in Newfoundland to learn about public engagement in Britain.

Prof. Mary Bownes of Edinburgh University explained the rationale behind the Edinburgh Beltane Beacon for Public Engagement was that to make a difference in global issues, it is essential to work across disciplines and with other agencies. As a result of partipating in Edinburgh Beltane, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Herriot-Watt University now award prizes for Public Engagement and Edinburgh University has Public Engagement written into job descriptions for academics.

Prof. Mary Stuart of University of Lincoln explained how the University, founded in 2001, was designed to be a civic university which has engagement with the city as its focus, and which trains students to be producers, not consumers.

Dr Steven Hill of the RCUK Strategy Unit spoke about the importance of research for building the economy, making people healthier, and enhancing people’s lives culturally. He described impact as the difference research makes to the world. He also noted that the Beacons for Public Engagement project has emphasised the diversity and creativity in Higher Education.

I’ll be back at the conference tomorrow and will blog more. You can also follow on Twitter with the hashtag #engage_2011.

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