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Public Engagement Fund, 2017-18

The Public Engagement (PE) Fund runs annually, supporting small projects with up to £1,000 each. It aims to facilitate those getting started in PE, and pump prime larger projects. These are the activities funded in 2017-18.

Sleep Health and Society Book Launch - Dr Michelle Miller
michelle_miller_1_web.jpgThe funding was used for a book launch to showcase the second edition of our book. This edition is written in a more accessible style whilst still being a significant science reference book. The launch was publicised at the Pint of Science at which Dr Michelle Miller spoke on 16th May. It was held on the 7th June at a local bookshop - Warwick Books. The launch which was open to the general public, charities and partner organisations. The two UK Editors (Dr Miller and Prof. Cappuccio) outlined some of their research and how this is encompassed within the book and Matt O’Neill, the chair of Narcolepsy UK, who has co-authored a chapter in the book, gave a patient’s perspective of this disabling condition. A lively Q&A session and informal reception followed.

The University publicised this event alongside partner organisations. Just prior to the event, Prof Cappuccio was interviewed on the local Radio station BBC Coventry and Warwickshire live from the Bookshop. The launch has helped to foster collaborative links that will help our research-led teaching programme. Subsequently, we have numerous requests to review the book. The event was featured on twitter and Facebook and has had good feedback. Both events were enjoyable had very good outputs and reached a large number of individuals.

Photography proved by Matt O’Neil, Chair of Narcolepsy UK

A Century of Maternal Experiences of Incarceration - Dr Rachel Bennett

Pull up banners at the event

This one-day event brought together historians, charities and individuals to explore one hundred years of maternal experiences of incarceration. Attendees included medical and arts practitoners who have delivered vital services and on the ground support to women in prison.

The workshop-style structure of the day allowed for the exchanging of knowledge, including the historic research underpinning the event, between participants and the sharing of the experiences and expertise of those currently working with women in prison.

A key learning point to emerge during the organisation of this event was the importance of establishing strong partnerships with people or groups you may want to work with. In establishing these connections, you are then able to ensure your event is a two-way process of engagement as opposed to research dissemination alone. This also means you, and those who have participated in your event, are more likely to take something from it. Organising an event like this also helped me to think differently about my historic research and to more fully explore how it can be used to speak to current debates and provide a different perspective to current questions but can also potentially be used to levy change.

Shakespeare in Yosemite 2018: A Midsummer Night’s Dream - Professor Paul Prescott

This project brought together funding from a number of sources to produce a a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream to play in Merced and Yosemite National Park, California, from 18th-21st April 2018. The play was specially adapted for the locality, emphasising themes of environmental sustainability in order to make audiences think about the relationship between classical texts and contemporary concerns. It aimed to consolidate the achievement of Shakespeare in Yosemite 2017 and to further build working connections with stakeholders in the National Parks Service in order to make the festival sustainable over the next few years so this project can continue annualy.

Over 6 performances 1,100 people attended, attracting extensive media coverage including local and national press and National Public Radio (NPR). Workshops delivered by cast member Devon Glover to local middle schools in Merced, CA also reached a further 1,000 students. Academic outputs including plenary presentation at Shakespeare Association of America (Los Angeles April 2018); project cited in introduction to Shakespeare Bulletin special issue on Shakespeare and Ecology; presented at Applied Shakespeare conference in Stratford-upon-Avon in March 2018 and forthcoming article in Critical Survey special issue on Applied Shakespeare.

One of the key things applying to the fund allowed was the invaluable support of Lucy Horrocks from the Public Engagement Team, who advised on evaluation of our performances and has allowed us to really build on this area for this year and years to come.

It’s a Matter of Crystals – Dr. Monica Ciomaga Hatnean

Image of different crystalsThe award was used to prepare a series of workshops on the science behind crystals, in paricular by funding the required materials. The workshops were designed to incorporate general information on crystals, crystal growth of materials and the importance of studying crystals and their physical behaviour through a series practical activities. The hands-on activities included building crystal structures in order to understand the internal arrangement of chemical elements inside crystals, examination of a portfolio of various crystals (minerals and other chemical compounds grown in the laboratory), description of devices based on some physical properties of crystals of materials. At the end of the workshop participants where given a set of instructions and materials (salt powder) to grow their own crystals at home. These workshops were delivered at a series of locations to different groups of young people (16+) and chemistry teachers.

This series of workshops has allowed me to showcase my research work on crystals of various materials, with emphasis on the significance of current research for future applications. The feedback was very positive, e.g. Kate, from the National Mathematics and Science College, wrote that it is important to study crystal “because some of the properties can be useful to apply in industries + it’s impressive”. All the participants were pleasantly surprised by the hands-on aspect of the workshop and most of them would have liked for a longer workshop to learn more information. Organising these activities helped me to focus my attention on the practical aspect of my work, and how to stress on the impact of studying crystals and their properties to a non-scientific audience.

Find out more about Monica's project

A positive and proactive approach to behaviour - Professor Richard Hastings and Dr Louise Denne

PBS is recognised as an effective and ethical way of supporting people with intellectual disabilities and behaviour that challenges. Policy documents have, to date, focused on PBS in the suppport of adults. It can however also help schools create positive learning environments, giving them a decision-making framework that allows the selection, implementation and integratration of the most appropriate evidence-based academic and behavioural practices for their population.

We hosted a one-day engagement event with special schools’ stakeholders, sharing examples of PBS being used in special schools. The format of the day was primarily interactive and we sought participants’ views on research priorities and the resources needed for effective implementation of evidence-based approaches to behavioural well-being. 55 people attended with a broad mix of stakeholders from special schools – head teachers, special education needs coordinators, speech and language therapists, clinical psychologists, behaviour support staff etc. All but one of the participants said that the day had met their expectations –they said that they did not come with any expectations but rated the presentations as relevent and informative. Many added additional comments that the day had exceed expectations.

Active Research: Life in Coventry - Professor Jonathon Neelands and Flo Swann


This year, to celebrate the approach of Coventry City of Culture 2021, the Universities of Warwick and Coventry joined forces with local cultural and community organisations to bring research to life using cookery, writing, dance, debate, mosaic, poetry, photography, theatre, even Lego! Our department provided funding to these projects for them to create these fantastic outputs, and wanted to use the Public Engagement Funding to run a showcase event that celebrated all of this work. In total there where 13 projects, 7 of which ran stalls, 7 gave talks and 6 did both at the event at Fargo Village.

As well as the showcase we also met for a celebration lunch (provided by Moat House Cafe, itself one of the cultural organisation partners). 70 people attended the lunch, and a further 35 members of the public came along for the afternoon showcase.

Our top tip for next years applicants? There is a lot of paperwork invovled with events, from getting Finance permisison to hold events offsite and use different suppliers, to negotiating contracts and dealing with the invoicing. You need to be pretty organised. Get your Dept adminstrator on board if you can (and if you have one).

See more about this project here

Engineering Day – Professor Christopher James

In celebration of British Science week, the School of Engineering opened its doors to members of the public and hosted a one-day engagement event where visitors could take part in interactive themed activities, tours of the Schools labs and attend a range of talks delivered by academics. The day attracted families, pupils from local schools, budding engineers and those with an interest in discovering the versatility of engineering.
Staff and students shared their knowledge and provided demonstrations and hands on activities delivering an insight into the diversity of engineering challenges. These included; bridge building, engine stripping, 3D laser printing, smoke cannon, an electronic nose, racing simulator, virtual reality stand and a Sinclair C5.

The lab tours included the Schools Gait lab, wave flume and wind tunnel where students were on hand to talk through the mechanics.
Talks delivered throughout the day included, topics of ‘Engineering - the Body and the Brain’, ‘Nature informing Engineering Design’ and ‘Metals on the brain’ – all of which captivated the diverse audiences.

This is the second time the School has hosted this event. On both occasions, the day has resulted in approximately 1,000 enthusiastic visitors providing positive feedback and the request for further events.

The Sun is Magnetic! Dr Erwin Verwichte and Anne-Marie Broomhall

Sun diagramAt the Centre of Fusion, Space and Astrophysics in Physics we actively research how the dynamics of our Sun’s atmosphere is driven by magnetism. We wish to make the complexities of the Sun approachable to the public and school students through events where we use a series of innovative demonstrations in magnetism that are approachable for all ages, user-friendly and portable. The PE Fund allowed us to acquire a set of such demonstrations, which also compliment our existing solar telescopes.

As a team we visited six primary schools as part of the STEM ambassador network and mostly during British Science Week. In conjunction with the Physics outreach officer, Ally Caldecote, we participated in events over two days in June, which involved 60 visiting children and a break-out imagineering session with 24 students. All in all, we have interacted with over 400 students. Many of the teachers enthuse at the opportunity to use equipment they do not usually have access to. Furthermore, The equipment has become a useful addition to the University’s Open Day and for undergraduate teaching demonstrations.

Find out more about the project.

Other projects:

  • The Cornish Tick Box Project - Dr Rachel Moseley and Dr Gemma Goodma