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What is engagement?

Title: what is engagement?

On this page

  • What is engagement?
  • Who are the public?
  • The Engaged University
  • Why does it matter?

What is engagement?

Engagement (also referred to as public engagement) is about people inside universities interacting with those outside universities to share knowledge and research, collaborate on ideas, co-produce new approaches and enable curiosity, exploration and conversation. Through it everyone gains valuable interactions and insights, in turn contributing to societal development and progress.

It's sometimes referred to as Public Engagement, Impact, Outreach, Widening Participation or several other terms. You can read more about the different terms and what they mean on our Terms for Engagement PadletLink opens in a new window.

Examples of engagement

There are lots of different types of engagement - for example:

  • Collaborating on a piece of research/ solutions with community partners
  • Public talks
  • Advising policy makers
  • Working with artists on exhibitions/ installations
  • Visiting schools
  • Consulting patient groups on a clinical trial
  • Live events, social media, website, television, books

Explore more detailed examples on our Examples of Engagement Padlet. You can also look at the Case Studies section of the Skills Festival for in-depth examples.

Who are the "Public"?

Warwick Institute of Engagement supports engagement with many different types of people. We always try to avoid thinking of just the "general public" and aim to be specific about who we want to engage with. Our Audience Development Toolkit is a good place to start if you want help mapping out your own potential public audience. The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) also produce this useful diagram which gives a good overview of the different types of people we might be thinking of when we say the "public".

Diagram showing audiences segmented into four categories. Follow the link for the NCCPE accessible version.

From NCCPE: Who are the Public

The Engaged University

The NCCPE has a guide on what an Engaged University looks like. This diagram helps to summarise the different types of engagement that Warwick Institute of Engagement supports.

This diagram from the NCCPE shows 4 different categories of activity that an engaged university would do. Follow the linked source for accessible version..

From NCCPE: What does an Engaged University Look Like? 

Why does engagement matter?

Why engagement matters to you will be individual to you and something you should reflect upon. However WIE believe there are many benefits to staff for getting involved with engagement, including:

  • Personal enrichment (many people enjoy their engagement work and find it very rewarding)
  • Stronger research and teaching more connected to society
  • Opportunity to develop new skills and set yourself new challenges
  • Chance to share what you're passionate about with more people
  • Influence more people and voices to be passionate about the subject your care about

We also run the Warwick Award for Public and Community Engagement, celebrating students and staff for their engagement work.

For more on this, see the NCCPE Case for Engagement.

Video: why does public engagement matter for Warwick students?