The Warwick Awards for Public and Community Engagement seek to recognise the vital contributions Warwick staff and students make in engaging the public – on an international and national level as well as crucially within our region and local communities – in our learning and discovery, with the goals of sharing and co-producing knowledge, strengthening the role we play in the region and showcasing the role Warwick plays nationally and internationally in making the world a better place. As such these awards mark an important step forward in the development of our Research and Knowledge Exchange cultures at Warwick; in the degree to which we recognise and reward those who seek to engage a wide varieties of publics and communities with their work; and in the ways in which we encourage our students as well as our staff to be part of that effort. I and the rest of the judging panel have been astounded and delighted by the strength of Public and Community engagement work displayed by the finalists this year, and offer our heartiest congratulations to the winners.
Prof Michael Scott, Director of WIE
Stuart Croft, VC
‘My congratulations to you all – it is fabulous to see the strength, breadth and depth of Warwick’s engagement with the wider world as showcased through the achievements of the inaugural WAPCE award winners.
Rachel Sandby-Thomas, Registrar
‘It is great to see WAPCE taking its place alongside other much valued and loved Warwick awards like the Warwick Awards for Teaching Excellence and Personal Tutoring Excellence. It recognises the importance this University attaches to public and community engagement. Finalists and winners alike – your work is an inspiration to us all!’
Simon Swain, Vice President for Regional and National Engagement
‘WAPCE represents and champions the important commitments the University has made to strengthening its collaborative research culture, the development of public and community engagement as an important part of the Warwick student experience, and to promoting and supporting the work of its staff and students in the interlocking arenas of public engagement, impact and knowledge exchange. Long may the awards continue!’
Fatemah Jafar (UG)
In the words of Fatemah’s personal tutor, Fatemah is “a fantastic science communicator and has gone way beyond what any of our students would normally do, specifically being the first ever undergraduate to deliver one of the Warwick Christmas Lectures” – a live event held every year in the Warwick Arts Centre for up to 2000 school children, which seeks to make complex science not only fun but understandable for all and inspire the next generation of scientists. More than this, Fatemah shares her passion and expertise with others in her Department, acting as an ambassador for physics, welcoming and inspiring future Warwick students to study physics here, supporting collaborations with local schools helping to clear up misconceptions about the subject and topics within it as well as being a champion for diversity and the benefits it brings to the subject, the university and all aspects of life. She has enhanced the reputation of the University by taking part in the university wide Resonate festival as part of Coventry City of Culture year, not only bringing her love of physics to inspire and engage others, but also in turn helping to develop a stronger relationship between the University and its regional community.
Fatemah speaks about her win and her tips for great public engagement in this short interview.
Tallulah George (UG)
When a supervisor describes a student’s public engagement work in her Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme (URSS) project and in her wider outreach work for the Department of Classics and Ancient History as “ground breaking” you know you’re onto a winner! Tallulah undertook a URSS project with the aim to make classics inclusive and accessible to all by means of fun and snappy videos about ancient objects on social media platforms – including Tiktok – as well as through longer interviews and blogs on her website. Tallulah travelled the country speaking with curators in different museums about their favourite objects, collating and curating these digital assets for audiences to access easily. On top of this, Tallulah has also supported and encouraged her fellow students by sharing her expertise and insight on how to conduct a successful public engagement project with those keen to conduct a URSS project and has also got involved in the wide range of public engagement activities the Department offers. As such Tallulah has not only helped communicate the ancient world to whole new audiences, and enabled her fellow Warwick Classics students to do the same, but also been a fantastic ambassador for the university by enabling other professionals across the country – museums and museum curators – to do so as well.
Abigail Coppins (PG)
As her referee put in, “Abigail’s track record of public engagement would be impressive from a senior, established academic. For a PhD student it is exceptional”. Working with under-represented groups, sharing research through co-production and with archival research at the heart of her public engagement of the highest quality, Abigail is allowing English Heritage at Portchester Castle to tell new and diverse stories about Black history in Britain and extend our understanding of the global consequences of the French Revolution. Abigail’s engagement activities are regularly used as examples of best-practice in the IATL public engagement module, supporting the development of fellow and future students and her research is being used to develop new techniques and methods of public and community engagement in School of Modern Languages and Cultures as part of an engaging research project to encourage underrepresented groups into research. Through this work Abigail is having local, national and international impact, connecting with groups and organisations such as the Central American Black Association, educational charity The World Reimagined and English Heritage, all of which bring the subject, the department and the university to the attention of others.
Tishtyra Mehta (PG)
Tish has taken part in a number of events with various public groups and communities including Pint of Science evening talks and the Warwick Christmas Lectures, choosing events and activities strategically for their potential to go beyond a single subject and for the long-term impact they can have. Tish has also looked inward as well as out, supporting colleagues with their public engagement and mentoring URSS students to help them deliver impactful and high-quality public engagement activities. Through all of her efforts Tish is thus increasing the visibility of the University of Warwick, her department and her subject to local, national and international audiences. Tish’s line manager summed it up for us: “Tish is without a doubt one of the best public engagement practitioners I have ever worked with. Her natural ability to make complex ideas sound simple is evidenced by the feedback we get, where particular emphasis is placed on Tish’s ability to pitch material at the right level for all audiences. She is a brilliant role model, inspiring and enthusing young people into STEM careers, and uses PE to highlight the Centre for Fusion, Space and Astrophysics’ world-leading research”
James’ work to advocate for less binary thinking on Christianity and Islam in schools has seen the co-production of schemes of work which have been widely downloaded, commended by teachers and fed into cultural projects such as the Two Chairs Creative Writing Competition and theatre performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, reaching a diverse range of audiences and providing longevity for his work. James has also co-produced programmes that have empowered Muslim artists to explore through their work key themes such as ‘empathy’, ‘belonging’, and ‘otherness and similarity.’ These programmes have brought in external funding from Arts Council England, raised the profile of the artists and helped bolster civic pride and the public voice of Muslim communities in the Midlands and London. In his department, Faculty, the University and WIE, James’s activities have helped to demonstrate and disseminate public engagement good practice, brought in funding to support research and are helping to train Warwick researchers in collaborative and co-productive research methods. Through all these activities James has been invited to share his knowledge and expertise at a variety of workshops and conferences for HEIs and research foundations worldwide, highlighting Warwick and WIE as a hub of collaboration, co-production and engagement as well as raising the profile and relevance of modern languages and the arts to all.
As Marks’ referee put it, “Mark’s engagement activity underpins Warwick being seen as part of the local community, facilitating networks for organisations and opportunities for development, beneficial to all involved”. Over the last seven years Mark has carried out what could be described as “one long targeted intervention with a non-traditional audience” in the local community of Canley, playing a key role in transforming the relationship between the University and our neighbourhood next door. By working with the community and understanding their needs Mark has supported a range of activities and funding opportunities into the area, helping by managing projects where needed or stacking chairs alongside community groups. By using the Planning for Real process and bringing in a PfR expert to train colleagues and community members Mark has ensured that suggestions and changes for Canley were prioritised and actioned, linking with the City Council and other agencies to make change happen. Mark’s work directly feeds into the Warwick student experience through the module Community Engagement: Theory into Practice for IATL and the adult outreach activities of the Centre for Lifelong Learning through the Developing Community Leadership module. Through Mark’s work the relationship between the university and our neighbours in Canley has been strengthened and expanded, making us part of one community.
As Paul’s Head of Department wrote, “Paul has been the central pillar of our community and public engagement work, organising, supporting and delivering multiple events to a range of different audiences”. Paul has been instrumental in setting up the Warwick Classics Network, the website for which has garnered a reputation as a high-quality teaching resources hub. It was chosen by the national charity Classics for All to host its national resources, providing free access to a range of Classics learning materials for all. Paul has developed and delivered two large annual public engagement events as well as supporting and encouraging others to support a variety of off campus engagement events and activities. Paul’s work directly supports the Warwick student experience and success through the module ‘Public engagement in Classics’, helping students to develop their own skills and knowledge in making Classics accessible to others. Paul also sits on two WIE learning circles, supports multiple public engagement URSS projects, and works actively with Widening Participation, to ensure his knowledge and skills are supporting the development of colleagues and students across the University. His work also goes beyond the university, winning a WIE collaboration and co-production grant to work with Market Hall Museum, part of Heritage and Culture Warwickshire, to develop a research and engagement project on two Roman coin hoards, strengthening the university’s relationship with its neighbours and communities.
Vicki is committed to developing novel forms of community engagement which can be seen in the creation of a digital map of migrant journeys, provided as a freely accessible online tool for public audiences. Used by thousands from all over the world, the map formed part of an art exhibition at Tate Modern, London and public workshops in venues such as Birmingham Central Library, the Royal Society of Arts in London and Leamington Spa Art Gallery. Vicki is co-founder of the Warwick cross-faculty Borders, Race, Ethnicity and Migration research network (BREM), which offers a platform for collaboration between academic researchers at Warwick and external agencies across the region. Vicki’s engagements with the public, in particular with migrants, refugees and with cultural and charitable organisations, has provided new insights into the importance of generating safe and supportive environments for the co-creation of knowledge with those directly affected by experiences of precarious migration. Vicki’s leadership of BREM has enhanced recognition of the world-leading research carried out by scholars across the University and through the Resonate Festival programme of events on the topic of sanctuary also raised the profile of the University across the region, making an important contribution to the strategic goal of regional leadership by building stronger relationships with local authorities, schools and colleges.
The Submarine Team ( Prof Ian Tuersley and Nigel Denton, as well as to graduating students: Ben Barker, Emelia Downes, Colm Dudley, Euan Foster, Umut Korkmaz, Shubham Rathod and Lawrence Tsang)
The principle aim of the Warwick-Human-powered Submarine Team has been to engage with the widest range of target audiences about the joys and wonders of engineering, and for the last ten years, that’s exactly what it’s been doing. Bringing in new engineering students each year, the project, led by Prof Ian Tuersley and Nigel Denton, has now had over 70 undergraduate members. And today we are proud to have with us the latest crop. Being part of this project has empowered the students to develop personally and professionally through delivering engagements with schools and the public. Supported by technicians and academics this staff-student team has engaged and inspired people of all ages in the importance of engineering and what it means to our lives. Throughout the project’s 10 year life, the team have also been supported by, and partnered with, businesses, strengthening connections between several well-known organisations and the university. The project has even become a best practice public engagement case study within the field, with the team being invited to present at numerous engineering professional bodies, showing the benefits a well-thought out and longitudinal project can have on those it engages with, but also on the staff and students delivering it.
Read more about the Submarine Team here