Co-Production and Creativity: ethos, typologies and innovation in public engagement practice

Lead Research Organisation: Keele University
Department Name: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Abstract

(A) The enrichment of institutional PER culture.

Public engagement is fundamentally necessary to the mission of the twenty-first century university. A great deal of public money is devoted to high-quality research so it is important that the benefits and innovations delivered by higher education research are shared with the public in order to promote trust and transparency. Keele University values public engagement as a central part of its high-quality research mission -- a measure of which is to be funded by research councils (RCUK). Keele is committed to working closely with and learning from the public, an approach that is known as 'co-production'. Co-production as an ethos is central to some of Keele's most innovative social research -- in particular, the creative solutions generated by its Community and Social Innovation Centre (CASIC); and Live Age, which aims to inspire creativity among older people. While both of these socially-focused projects originated in RCUK funding, so does much of our high-quality research into science and medicine: that research, in being explicitly based on esoteric specialist expertise, is often not so accessible or amenable to co-production. At the same time, much of Keele's medical research has an excellent patient participation and engagement infrastructure to support it. In the natural sciences, on the other hand, public engagement with research works more readily through an 'outreach' model which works through different structures of support. In another context, our research into policing has to engage with a practice that directly impacts on the public, with public interest at its heart, but which is operated by professional specialists, governed by law and regulation. As a University committed to public engagement, our varied spheres of research necessarily present a varied picture of our public engagement practices which it is a challenge to cohere.

In working with the National Centre for the Coordination of Public Engagement, we have become convinced that co-production represents one of the most inclusive and democratic ethics of public engagement to bring together our varied practices. However, the aim of embedding co-production as a creative and innovative mode presents real challenges and our approach to catalyse change involves four phases.
1. First, the research team will map the different typologies of public engagement most commonly associated with our most successful PE research practices: in this phase of our research, we will theorise these typologies, their varied 'orientations', and the challenges of deploying them in different contexts of public engagement.
2. Secondly, we will design work streams/packages, associated with key areas of RCUK funded research. Our practice here will be to assess the most creative ways to introduce and orientate co-production, to be phased and introduced by working through, but going beyond, approaches to public engagement that are dominant in the research habits of a given discipline or field.
3. Having arrived at new and workable orientations of co-production in our 6 work streams, we will roll these out through training workshops that will include researchers, but also middle managers. We will catalyse change by embedding these approaches in public engagement work through a team of public engagement specialists that our research project will have trained.
4. We will roll this work to other universities who collaborate in the business of co-produced PER in order to share best practice.

We will measure and evaluate success by working with Theory of Change tools, designed in the early phases of the project; as well as with NCCPE's EDGE tool for assessing the degree to which PER has become an embedded and successful part of everyday research life at Keele.

Planned Impact

(A) The enrichment of institutional PER culture.


Who might benefit from this research?

1. Other leadership teams in HEIs, who will need to cohere their own PER mission around the challenge of disciplinary diversity.
2. Other PER practitioners in HEIs, and relevant partners and collaborators, who will benefit from the advanced, research-generated guidance on the principles of co-producing in diverse contexts.
3. Other PER practitioners in HEIs, and relevant partners and collaborators, who will benefit from the advanced, research-generated guidance on the relationship between innovative research and creative forms of public engagement.
4. PER partners, collaborators, members of different publics who engage with, learn about, and co-produce HEI research through cultural conferences, festivals of ideas.

How might they benefit from this research?
1. By participating in training programmes that we will roll out.
2. Attend advanced workshops run for external institutions and their partners, and through NCCPE-sponsored conference and workshop activity.
3. Collaboratively organised cultural conferences, festivals of ideas etc., developed through research-generated best practice, in Keele's locale (North Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent); but also through national and international contexts and opportunities (Stoke-on-Trent's bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 is of potential significance here).

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have established that public engagement with research is vital to Keele University's ethos as a higher education institution.

Sustained and structured reflection on the practice of public engagement across a whole range of diverse disciplines encourages a) shared improvements in practice overall; and b) sharing of intellectual insights across disciplines, which can shape innovation in public engagement practice. c) This has the potential to feed back into innovations in the practice and design of original research itself

We have also established that successful embedding of public engagement with research at Keele is dependent upon coordinated reform of the wider research culture support; and, in particular, establishing appropriate training opportunities, as well as structures for recognising and rewarding public engagement with research.
Exploitation Route Through our extensive collaborative work with the National Centre for the Coordination of Public Engagement, as well as the other projects contribution to the SEE PER programme

Through our exemplar public engagement platform, Stoking Curiosity

A full website/portal will be available later in 2o19
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Other

 
Description NCCPE Engage International Conference: Facing the Future, Edinburgh November 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited to share my experience of managing the activity of embedding public engagement with research in the context of Keele University's research culture: this experience was shared with an international audience of fellow public engagement practitioners. Our experience at Keele was of great interest to international colleagues who indicated that they would be keen to be guided by the learning that we shared: in turn, I valued learning from their experiences.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.publicengagement.ac.uk/sites/default/files/publication/engage_2018_programme_v3.2.pdf
 
Description NCCPE Engage: Facing the Future (participant in Senior Leaders' Roundtable), Edinburgh conference, November 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited participant to the Senior Leaders' roundtable, exploring the future of public engagement practice in HE. The event explored communication, what it mans to be a good partner, and how to place PER on a sustainable resource platform. The most significant outcome for me and our project was the invitation to work collaboratively with NCCPE on the question of resourcing sustainability.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.publicengagement.ac.uk/sites/default/files/publication/engage_2018_programme_v3.2.pdf
 
Description RaISE Expecations: Research Culture Change and the Public Engagement Challenge 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This talk was invited by Advance HE and delivered at Staffordshire University (10 May), with a focus on managing change in Higher Education. The talk was delivered to around 40 professional HE practitioners from across the midlands region. The talk was based on extensive public engagement activities, and audiences, with which our research project had been engaging. The main focus was on successful strategies for embedding public engagement at an institutional level as part of a wider change programme. There was extensive interest in strategies for embedding this change. Subsequently, the text for the talk was shared with the National Centre for the Coordination of Public Engagement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Stoking Curiosity: a festival of ideas 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Stoking Curiosity was the first festival of ideas to be held in Stoke-on-Trent and a legacy project of the City of Culture bid, 2017, which this research helped us to realise. The event was co-produced between Keele Uniersity, Staffordshire University and Stoke-on-Trent City Council. The event was genuinely co-produced between active researchers in these anchor institutions and communities who were fully consulted and involved in the planning of the event, which took place at the former Spode pottery works in Stoke-on-Trent (16-17 November). Over 50 separate events, displays and activities took place across the two days, engaging over 600 people. The events included: activities around some of the leading technological innovations in prostheses; sustainability and plastics; everyday chemistry; 'Shot of Science' taster talks; the work of the 'Dust Rising' artistic collective; the transformation of a ruined grand piano (the former pride of the Spode site) into a living, developing artefact under the direction of one of the city's leading ceramic artists. The overall event was very positively evaluated, revealing a powerful appetite for understanding and exploring research, creativity and innovation. The event will be repeated and expanded next year.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.keele.ac.uk/discover/artskeele/stokingcuriosity/