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How we share, inspire and involve

02 Jul 2019

Celebrating our engagement journey and becoming a leading civic university

Delegates celebrating our public engagement

The University marked a decade of award-winning public engagement with an event that celebrated how we have worked with thousands of people of all ages and from all sectors, across Manchester and beyond.

Public engagement describes the many ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. It’s a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit.

Our President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell is keen for us to do this well: “I believe universities exist for the public good.

“I am passionately committed to public engagement partly because I feel we are obliged to do this in our role as a publicly-funded institution but more importantly because we want to share our passion, research and knowledge.

“Equally we gain enormously from these interactions with the public as it helps us do better and more meaningful research and be better teachers. One of my best research projects came from a member of the public who said, ‘this sounds like a silly question’ and it wasn’t.”

Our academic lead for public engagement Professor Sheena Cruickshank agrees: "It is a privilege to be able to share our research and involve the public in our work through our public engagement.  And of course it offers a chance for us to inspire and to be inspired.”

Our University was awarded the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement’s Gold Watermark in November 2018, building on ten years’ work, which started with the Manchester Beacon, led by Dr Erinma Ochu. The Beacons initiative funded by the Higher Education Funding Councils, Research Councils UK and the Wellcome Trust, aimed to embed engagement in higher education and develop and share best practice.

The celebration event and accompanying booklet showcased our achievements and the incredible work of our staff, students and community partners – from patient involvement to applied student work; community partnerships to citizen science; writers, radio and TV presenters to cultural attractions; and widening participation to policy engagement.

The event was attended by key people from the Manchester Beacon, some of our funders and professional bodies along with colleagues from cultural venues and from across the University, students, community partners and public contributors, all whom make our public engagement work possible.

But our engagement story doesn't end there.

As we enter into a new decade, we are taking up the challenge of playing a leading role as a civic university, as well as addressing key national and international agendas, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Our vision includes creating a more permissive engagement culture; developing more inclusive practices; co-creating innovative approaches and working in partnership with more diverse audiences to help realise our University’s strategy for social responsibility, research and discovery, and teaching and learning.

For this we need our staff and students to get involved – tell us your engagement stories or if you haven’t tried it yet and want to, let us know.

To tell your story or get involved, contact:

You too can share, inspire and involve our community partners and public audiences in Manchester, across the country and around the globe.

For more information, visit: