Professor Alice Roberts visits to talk about public engagement

Posted on Thursday, December 6 2012

Alice Roberts

Professor Alice Roberts has visited Bournemouth University to talk about the importance of public engagement and see some of the work that is being done.

Alice is Professor of Public Engagement in Science at the University of Birmingham and has presented a range of science programmes, as well as releasing several books.

She told staff and students at BU today that public engagement can be very fulfilling and exciting.

“There’s a fantastic joy,” she said.

“I think most of the people I speak to, if not all of the people I speak to, who undertake some form of public engagement find that they talk about fulfilment, about satisfaction and they rediscover a sense of excitement often about their own subject as well.

“So it might be something that we feel thoroughly obliged to do, but hopefully it can be something that, actually, is a worthwhile, fulfilling and exciting part of our jobs as well.”

She added that it was an important way to improve trust in science and scientists, and there was also a moral obligation to engage with the public.

“There’s often an element of distrust in both science as an endeavour and in scientists themselves, and we can start to break that down by being a lot more open about what we do.

“Somehow we need to rescue science from its position of being in a ghetto and put it back into culture again.”

She added: “We won’t recruit the best students and staff unless we are engaging with the wider community.”

Alice then went on to speak to students from BU’s School of Applied Sciences about her work looking at the giant animals that died out during the ice age.

Alongside Alice’s presentation was an interactive exhibition, showcasing some of the best examples of public engagement at BU.

BU academics also spoke about their experiences with public engagement – senior psychology lecturer Dr Andrew Mayers talked about the sleep workshops he has been running with Winton Primary School, while Dr Carrie Hodges, senior lecturer in Communication and Culture, spoke of the Seen But Seldom Heard project she has helped coordinate, which aims to give young people with disabilities a voice through poetry.

Bryce Dyer, senior lecturer in Product Design, also talked about the Cafe Scientifique events, which run monthly at a cafe in Boscombe, and where last month he talked to people about his work with prosthetics.

Professor Matthew Bennett, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Enterprise and Internationalisation at BU, said: “Public engagement is at the heart of our current strategy – BU2018.

“As a University, we have just signed up to the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) Manifesto for the Engaged University, which signals our commitment to embedding public engagement across Bournemouth University.”

You can watch Alice’s talk here: