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Catalyst Symposium – Registration open!

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Registration is now open for the Catalyst Symposium.

When? Wednesday 12th November

Where? Streatham Court D

What? As the end of Catalyst funding is in sight (March 2015), we want to bring together the University of Exeter’s vibrant community of Engaged Researchers, Community Partners and Professional Services Staff who are passionate about public engagement with research.

You will be able to take part in a variety of workshops, seminars, and discussions to share best practice and learning from Catalyst Seed Funds and the Champions for Public Engagement.

We will reflect on what the future of engaged research looks like for the University and how we can continue to support it.

For more information, including a draft programme and transport arrangements, please visit the event page.

If you have any questions about the Symposium please email the Grace (

November news

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We’re looking forward to hosting the Catalyst meeting on 27 & 28 January.

These quarterly meetings are where the Catalyst universities get together to share experiences, learn from each other and think about the next steps. We often find our way to the pub too.

Do come along to the Forum between 3.15-4pm, 27 January  for a cream tea and the chance to network with other people interested in public engagement. Bring a story to share, a question to ask or an ear to listen with – we’d love to see you there. Please email so we know how many scones to bake (ahem – order!).




1. Wellcome Trust support for public engagement

If you’re funded by the Wellcome Trust then look at this new grant scheme for public engagement. I’m happy to help with applications.

2. Bristol Natural History Consortium – Heritage placements Jan-June 2014

Deadline: 1 December

Do you have any collaborators from outside university who would be interested in training on new media? Bristol Natural History Consortium a grant from Heritage Lottery Fund to deliver short placements training new media skills in a heritage context. Applicants should have a passion for the heritage sector, basic IT skills, and demonstrated creativity and enthusiasm. Placements are full time and trainees receive a monthly bursary stipend of £1200.00. For further details and an application form.

3. Lab in a Lorry – volunteers

January and February 2014, Wales

Do you fancy being in a mobile lab with enthusiastic schools visiting? Lab in a Lorry are looking for volunteers to help out delivering hands-on activities. Check out for more information.

4. FameLab

November 2013 – January 2014

Heats in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Guildford, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Oxford.

Do you have a passion for science, technology, engineering or maths and want to share it with the world? FameLab provides researchers in academia and industry with a supportive platform to communicate science and engineering to a wider audience – in three minutes! Previous contestants have gone on to travel the globe and feature on radio and TV.

Prizes: £1750, a weekend Masterclass with experts in media & communication skills, a chance to appear in the FameLab International Final at the Cheltenham Science Festival in June 2014.



1. Innovation in Partnership

22 November, British Museum

This free, one day conference has been organised to explore perspectives on collaborative working methods between supplementary schools and universities, museums and arts and heritage organisations. Delegates will either be looking to explore the possibilities of establishing a partnership project for the first time or for ways to sustain an already existing programme. Unfortunately the deadline for application has passed but you could email to see if there is a space available.

2. STFC Public Engagement Symposium

25 November, Birmingham University

If you are funded by STFC or use their facilities then come along to this great one-day symposium to network, learn and share best practice. Bursaries are available for early career researchers. The programme is here: PE Symposium 2013 draft programme V9 and you can also download a poster .

3. Engage 2013

27 & 28 November

Places are booking fast for Engage 2013 in Bristol. There mights still be a few places left. You can now see a draft programme for the conference on their website including our Catalyst session.

4.K’Ching! Turning creative innovation into economic and cultural wealth

26 November, the Station, Silver Street, Bristol, BS1 2AG

Bringing together key players and influencers in the South West Creative Industries sector to learn, explore and connect, K’ching! will profile the region’s talent, capability and capacity to generate and apply knowledge and expertise to the real economy.

At the core of the event is an interactive exhibition demonstrating how universities and businesses can work together showcasing latest knowledge and research in media, gaming, design and visual, performance, re-purposing technologies and support and funding opportunities.

Delegates will include:

  • University academics
  • Arts and Creative Industry Practitioners
  • Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)
  • Business support organisations

For further information, please contact .

5. Impact through Co-creation and Participation

9-11 April, 2014. Copenhagen

This looks to be a fascinating conference about research with, by and for civil society. Bookings are open now.

6. Science Communication Conference

1-2 May, 2014, University of Surrey

Put the date in your diary and watch out for the call for proposals. This two day event is the only cross-sector conference, bringing together people from across the science communication field.  Over 400 people usually attend the conference, including both seasoned sci-commers and those who are new to the sector. Helen ran a session at the 2013 conference and has recently contributed a chapter for the post-conference publication (watch this space!).


Interesting things

1. Codesign Heritage

We real like this Connected Communities project which involves researchers and local heritage organisations. Read the blog to find out how the team have taken co-design to heart.

2. National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement

The NCCPE have started a new blog and the first few posts provide some food for thought.

3. PENCRU newsletter

The latest PenCRU newsletter (issue 14) is now available to view online. Hear about their recent open day.

4. Engaged Futures

In the last newsletter we mentioned that we’d been running some workshops as part of the Engaged Futures consultation. Here’s the report for those who took part Engaged Universities summary South West October 2013 FINAL.

Catalyst project news – Summer 2013

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We took a break from the newsletter over the summer thinking there wouldn’t be much to share – how wrong we were!

We’ve had a busy couple of months. Helen helped Jodie West with a creative workshop on apps, new technology and citizen science at the ESI. Read the report here: Outcomes from the Citzen Science. The Catalyst project team had an away day (OK, it was an afternoon in Byrne House, but it worked for us!) where we looking forward to the second half of the Catalyst project and beyond. Lots of great ideas, lots still do, but we feel like we’re well on the way.


All the Catalyst universities got together in July for a quarterly meeting (we’ve another one soon). As well as sharing our ideas and experiences we also talked directly with RCUK and the other research councils and hosted a seminar for the wider RCUK seminar about culture change.

Helen’s been talking with Debbie Myhill and Alison Black about evaluating engagement activities in schools for another RCUK funded project: Schools University Partnership Initiative. We’ve been coming up with interesting, novel and non-intrusive ways of gathering feedback from students.

An important part of engagement is knowing who’s engaging. UWE, Bristol have a research project which is exploring ways of mapping relationships with external partners. Helen participated in a focus group as part of the research project. It was pretty clear there wasn’t going to be a quick and easy answer as relationships are diverse, change in time and space, happen at many levels within institutions and serve many purposes. How do you map something that is constantly in flux?

Over the summer we’ve started to think about how we present our Case Studies of engaged researchers and also what we should include in the Researcher Toolkit. Do let me know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see in the toolkit that could help you with your public engagement work.

Lizzie Dridge is supporting a group of undergraduate bioscience students who are entering the iGem competition. As part of this international competition the team have to undertake a public engagement activity. Helen ran a creative workshop with the team who came up with several great ideas. They could only take one forward which will be an evening event for photography enthusiasts where they will showcase their iGem project: a synthetic biology camera and talk about photography. Let me know if you’d like a similar workshop to develop your own PE activities.

Helen’s also been supporting the British Ecological Society with their centenary celebrations: Sex and Bugs and Rock and Roll. We heard from Sarah Dalesman about her experiences at Wychwood, this time we were rockin’ out at Green Man in the beautiful Brecon Beacons. Over 1500 festival goers came to the tent to talk with the ecologists and take part in the activities. Everyone had an amazing time which even the rain couldn’t spoil.

We worked with the local University of the Third Age (U3A) group to take part in the BBSRC dialogue about bioenergy. Tom Howard joined in the fun and talked about why bioenergy is important and about the research happening in this area at Exeter. There was a lively discussion which was wide ranging: covering topics including cradle-to-grave carbon mapping, population growth, maintenance of soil quality and energy reduction/efficiency.

Coming up we have our annual Catalyst Gathering. We’ll be hosted by Queen Mary University, London and will be spending time discussing the values of our institutions and how they affect our commitment to public engagement. Should be interesting.

Later in September we have an Operational Board Meeting where we’ll be discussing how we reward and recognise publics’ involvement in our research. Here’s the paper outlining the issue: 2013 09 03 Catalyst briefing paper – paying people HF v1. Do let us know if you have any thoughts or comments.

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