[University home]

Public Engagement at Manchester


What is public engagement?

Public engagement describes the many ways in which universities and research institutions, and their staff and students connect and share their work with the public, from developing research ideas collaboratively to sharing the outcomes with as many different people as possible.

Done well, it generates mutual benefit, with all parties learning from each other through sharing knowledge, expertise and skills. In the process, it can build trust, understanding and collaboration, and increase the sectorís relevance to, and impact on society.

The Manifesto for Public Engagement

Why does public engagement matter?

Listen to Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester, talk about the importance of public engagement for the university, its staff and students and wider communities.

How do we do public engagement at Manchester?

gold watermarkOur commitment to public and community engagement is reflected in our institutional vision and strategy - Our Future (2020-2025) and is supported by our unique strategic goal of Social Responsibility which is in every aspect of our work, our teaching, our research, and our wider contribution to society.

In 2018 we were awarded a Gold Engage Watermark from the National Centre for Co-ordinating Public Engagement (NCCPE) which recognises "exceptional strategic leadership of public engagement, high standards of professional support and excellence in partnership working".

From interactive events and exhibitions, to lifelong learning programmes, and student volunteering activities, our aim is to lead on public engagement in all forms, providing expertise in public discourse and policy development, listening to the wider community, and involving the public in our work.

As an engaged university our public engagement activity is guided by the three purposes described by the NCCPE:

How do we support public engagement at Manchester?

Professior Sheena Cruickshank, Academic Lead for Public Engagement with Research

Sheena Cruickshank My role has evolved from the legacy of the Beacons for Public Engagement initiative of which the University was part from 2008-2012. Funded by the Higher Education Funding Councils, Research Councils UK and the Wellcome, the aim of the initiative was to inspire culture change in how universities engage with the public.

The Beacon may have dissolved but the legacy of public engagement initiatives continues. Engagement is increasingly central to the strategic plans of UKRI and all major funding bodies support engagement initiatives. There are drivers to embed engagement in grants and REF impact cases which seek to qualify the added value of universities and research to the public and key stakeholders. Furthermore, engagement has continued to evolve and has become a research subject in and of itself.

As Academic Lead for Public Engagement I oversee the development, implementation and monitoring of an institutional framework for public engagement in parallel with other key University-wide strategies. We used the NCCPE EDGE tool to map our existing strengths and weaknesses for the University’s work in public engagement and undertook a review of current activities. In addition to one to one interviews that were conducted across the University and other universities, we asked for your help in answering a survey on PE activity. The responses to our survey are presented in this report - From Piecemeal to Purpose: An Initial Review of Public Engagement with Research (pdf).

This valuable information has been used as the basis for developing our public engagement vision - Share, Inspire, Involve, which sets out our stuctures and governance, our priorities, actions and measures of success.

Connecting, sharing and involving the public with our knowledge, resources and visitor attractions allows us to make a difference across our city region of Greater Manchester, nationally and internationally. We worked with residents to conduct a community survey to listen and understand the needs and priorities of people in our local communities. Our local community social engagement plan sets out how we can inspire our local communities and how they inspire us.

Whether you are connected with the university or not, we hope that the featured case studies and stories on this website will inspire you to engage.