The Royal Academy of Engineering has signed a new Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research, to be launched today (7 December) by the UK’s research funding bodies. The Concordat aims to create a greater focus on and help embed public engagement with research across all disciplines in the higher education and research sectors.

The Concordat has four principles that signatories have agreed to adhere to:

  1. UK research organisations have a strategic commitment to public engagement.
  2. Researchers are recognised and valued for their involvement with public engagement activities.
  3. Researchers are enabled to participate in public engagement activities through appropriate training, support and opportunities.
  4. Signatories and supporters will undertake regular reviews of their and the wider research sector’s progress in fostering public engagement across the UK.

Commitment to the Concordat signals that the research funders will support HEIs and research institutes to help them implement the Concordat across their organisation and embed public engagement at a strategic level.  Research organisations will be encouraged to celebrate and communicate their researchers’ successes in public engagement and this new Concordat will facilitate the sharing of best practice.

David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science said: “Engaging people with science and engineering has never been more important. In an increasingly technological world, everyone needs to understand the benefits and potential concerns around new developments which may affect us all. Science engagement can help the public become part of a national conversation on some of the big issues like climate change and renewable energy, ensuring that researchers and policy makers understand the impact of leading research."

“There are already lots going on, but now more than ever we need to maximise the effectiveness of science engagement by increasing its reach and impact. I welcome this Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research and its aims to strengthen public engagement across the research and HE sector. I would like to thank all the signatories and supporters who will be implementing and reviewing the Concordat for their commitment to public engagement, which will enhance the future of research and benefit the UK society and economy.”

Philip Greenish, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says “It is crucial that engineers and scientists engage creatively with the public about their work at all levels. The taxpayer pays for a great deal of the work we do and we have a duty to open up the innovation process to public scrutiny. The Concordat strengthens our remit to share our fascination with all things engineering and to demonstrate the enormous contribution it makes to society.

Notes for editors

  1. Research Councils UK www.rcuk.ac.uk has produced a film exploring the benefits of public engagement with  research, features interviews with leading figures from the academic and research communities.
  2. The signatories of the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research are:Research Councils UK, Higher Education Funding Council for England Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, Department of Employment and Learning (DEL), N. Ireland, Scottish Funding Council, The British Academy, The Royal Academy of Engineering, The Royal Society, Defra
  3. To support the Concordat for Engaging the Public with Research the funders asked the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) to produce a set of briefings for research staff and senior managers to provide guidance and practical tips to help organisations to implement the principles.  These briefings are accompanied by a re-launched NCCPE website, containing a wealth of case studies and resources to support managers and research staff to develop their public engagement activities and institutional strategies, building on the lessons learned from the Beacons for Public Engagement initiative
    www.publicengagement.ac.uk
  4. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
  5. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636; email: Jane Sutton

or

Jane Wakefield at Research Councils UK Tel: 01793 444592; email: Jane Wakefield