Leadership for outreach and public engagement

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Researchers working in outreach and public engagement leadership roles often have to exert influence in ways that traverse organisational management structures. They need to take a strategic role in championing activity within their departments and promoting it across their universities.

This programme has been developed specifically for academic / teaching staff with an interest in taking a more strategic approach to outreach and public engagement. It is specifically for research and teaching staff in physics and STFC funded research groups.  Users of STFC Funded Facilities and staff within those facilities with responsibility for outreach and public engagement are also eligible.

The leadership of outreach and public engagement can include anything from being tasked to develop a more strategic approach for activities within your department or research group (i.e., you may be developing a strategy, delivering a training programme, developing resources for others to use), through to a formal role (i.e., Outreach lead or champion for public engagement).

Taking a participant-led approach, the programme will build your confidence in advocating for outreach and public engagement at a senior level, influencing others at different levels and in a range of job families across the organisation, and ensuring that your activities are sustainable.

Through the programme, you will be supported to develop a strategic approach to outreach and public engagement, connect with peers at other institutions to learn how others are leading outreach and public engagement, and hone your leadership skills for future roles.

The support programme consists of the following elements:

·      Bespoke advice through one-one mentoring from one of our experienced mentors

·      Facilitated online workshops which introduce core material

·      Peer group support and networking opportunities to learn from others

·      Resources and reading materials for self-directed learning

The programme lead facilitators are myself and Helen Featherstone, PhD who has extensive experience leading public engagement and developing others’ skills and confidence in outreach and public engagement.

You can find out more about us and the mentors in the programme overview.

The Leadership Programme

The programme will reflect your needs but will include support around the following:

  • Developing your approach to leading outreach and public engagement
  • Thinking strategically
  • Advocating for outreach and public engagement at a senior department level
  • Engaging others with your strategy
  • Access to networks and expertise
  • Navigating change
  • Writing strategic documents
  • Leveraging your institution’s mission and priorities
  • Project management and overseeing budgets
  • Line management
  • Writing business cases for roles and budgets

We ask that each participant come to the programme with a particular goal. This goal can be a personal goal. For instance: developing your leadership skills. Or a goal relevant to your organisation, for instance: create a new public engagement strategy for your department.

Once you have been accepted onto the OPE Leadership programme, you will have a short meeting with the programme leads to exploring your goals for the programme. This will help you get the most from the programme and ensure we can tailor the programme content to the group’s needs.

Interactive workshops

There will be up to six interactive workshops. The first and last will be in-person/hybrid (depending on participant needs), with the other workshops being online.

Workshop 1: Orientation and introduction

·      Leadership and leadership styles in the context of Outreach and Public Engagement

·      How might you lead high-quality public engagement?

Workshop 2: Developing and implementing your OPE strategy

·      What are the key components of a strategy?

·      How might you engage others in developing and implementing a strategy?

·      How do you measure success?

Workshop 3: Navigating policy drivers for OPE

·      Mapping out the key institutional levers for Outreach and Public Engagement?

·      How can you leverage these drivers to build a case?

Workshop 4: Equality, diversity and inclusion in OPE leadership

·      What is EDI in the context of Outreach and Public Engagement?

·      How do you deliver inclusive leadership?

Workshop 6: Wrap up and celebration

·      Evaluating your distance travelled and reporting back on your goal for the programme

·      Skill sharing sessions and next steps

Peer groups

You will be allocated into small peer groups of up to six people. These groups will meet approximately three times at times that is convenient for the group. The meetings will be online and an opportunity to work with others on issues that you are currently dealing with or expecting to encounter in the near future. Helen or David will host the groups.

Resources and reading

You will be provided with copies of all the materials used in the workshops and peer groups, along with following up materials if you wish to extend your reading.

Key dates for your diary

The first workshop will be held on 15 September 2022 (the day after Interact 2022) and will take place in either Bristol or Cardiff. Bursaries are available to cover the additional overnight hotel costs if needed. The event will be run hybrid if attending in person isn’t possible for you. We’ll ask you to express a preference in the application form.

How much time commitment does the programme take?

We estimate that each participant will need to allocate between 3 – 5 hours per month to participate in the programme.

This accounts for:

·      Attending the workshops and peer group discussions

·      1-1 Mentoring

·      Additional reading you may choose to undertake

Our hope for the programme is that by providing you support for leading outreach and public engagement, helping you develop your leadership approach, and by connecting you with peers and external expertise - it saves you more time in the long run than you put into it.

Meet the facilitators

David Owen, Gurukula Ltd.

David has over fifteen years’ experience working with leadership teams in UK higher education institutions supporting the embedding of outreach and public engagement in strategy. He has previously worked with the University of Bath developing resources on public engagement and leading change and their SEEPER programme, investigating the impacts on the take up of training and CPD to develop more effective practice. David is an ILLM level 7 equivalent accredited coach with a wealth of facilitation, training and mentoring experience. Competent with both online and in-person delivery and blended learning since the COVID-19 pandemic he has successfully delivered continuing professional development courses, research and advocacy courses and brought stakeholders together on a $25 billion investment to review progress and identify action plans.

Helen Featherstone, PhD, Independent Consultant and Head of Public Engagement at the University of Bath

Helen has been leading on Public Engagement in Higher Education since 2012 and has been working in the public engagement and science communication sector for over 20 years. Helen is known for her excellent training and professional development interventions – with participants particularly valuing the expertly facilitated opportunities to learn together, to bring new ideas to their practice, and to hear real-life examples drawn from Helen’s own experiences. Helen recently led on the UKRI-Funded SEE-PER project: ChallengeCPD@Bath, which examined public engagement training and professional development for academics. Helen was involved with setting up the NCCPE’s Engage Academy and has been a mentor since its inception. She is also a mentor for public engagement leads in Wellcome-funded research centres.

The mentors

The mentors we bring in will depend on the needs of the participants. Our mentors have extensive experience leading outreach and public engagement in universities. They are experts in: senior leadership for outreach and public engagement, culture change in universities, evaluation, high-quality public engagement and outreach, strategy development, and influencing upwards. They will help you understand your circumstances and identify effective approaches to leadership in your setting. The mentors will share their first-hand experiences, point you to relevant resources, and connect to others in the field whom you could benefit from speaking with.

For further information download the publication below or contact me.

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