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Public Engagement Training Workshops



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In In July The Society for Experimental Biology (SEB) held two career development workshops, run by Dr. Sophie Morris, focusing on the theme of public engagement. As researchers, we are familiar with the traditional methods of communicating our work through conferences and publishing scientific papers, but increasingly there has been a demand from funders, institutions, and scientific bodies for the research community to take part in public engagement activities. But what is public engagement?

This was the theme of our first webinar; Public Engagement 101. This webinar was an opportunity to learn about the different methods of engagement, consider who our target audience is, and how we can tailor engagement activities to their needs. We discovered that public engagement is more than just informing the lay-public about our research, but is a two-way meaningful interaction between researchers and non-specialists. This involves communicating and listening to generate mutual benefit. In this way, we can empower the public and broaden attitudes, whilst making sure our research is relevant and reflects wider society.

“I really liked the interactive aspect of the talk. Sometimes it’s difficult to stay engaged online and not only was this a masterclass in general public engagement but also was a fantastic case study of good online engagement practices.” Anonymous Attendee

Our second event was a more interactive workshop, with participants getting practical experience in developing their research concepts and findings into a short and snappy 3-minute pitch for a lay audience. A highlight for many attendees was coming up with an analogy to depict their research. Although initially daunting, discussions in small break-out rooms allowed us to bounce ideas off one another, and everyone managed to deliver their fully or partly formed 3-minute pitches by the end of the session.

“My favourite part of the session was the interactive nature of the workshop! The ability to break out into small groups and work on our individual pitches and instantly receive feedback on them, was fantastic. It was great to be able to develop our own pitch within the short time frame of the workshop.” Anonymous Attendee

The SEB recognises public engagement is essential for spreading the influence of experimental biology and sharing the results of your work. We want to support our community in this effort. SEB members can apply for funding to hold public lectures, and there are plenty of other funding and volunteering opportunities to get more actively involved in public engagement from SEB partners too: 

If you want to learn more, or would like support with an upcoming public engagement event then we can help so please get in touch with our Education, Outreach, and Diversity manager at r.ellerington@sebiology.org.

And remember to look out for more public engagement and career development opportunities by following us on social media!

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