A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from the public engagement unit. It asked if I was interested in attending a series of lunchtime sessions on public engagement. Four sessions were to be offered:
*Finding the way into your subject*
*Escaping the silo: Interdisciplinary engagement*
*Running projects: a “how-to” guide*
*The ideas factory*
Having my own research to do I had to be selective, so I opted for the first and the third session.
The sessions brought together a limited number of researchers from different departments to discuss relevant issues…and eat pizza!
The first sessions started with a discussion on our views of public engagement. However, the more useful part to me was the last section where we were asked to identify one point of our research that we want to communicate to others. It made me think long and hard as to what I think is most relevant to people not as intensely involved in the project as I am. I came up with this one:
When objects degrade they release gases into their environment which can then cause further degradation.
I considered that point as from there you can explain the necessity of ventilation and filtration systems, the necessity for environmental monitoring, and also the fact that ‘harm’ does not only come from outside.
Today’s session then was a bit different. As it was more of a practical session we were divided into groups, with a facilitator each who has experience of public engagement. Our facilitator was Subhadra Das from UCL Museums and Collections. She spoke about her experience during the event Disposal? which discussed the issue of museum object disposal. The fact that she is not an expert in public engagement but has had quite a bit of recent experience with the organisation of that event meant that she could pinpoint the practical problems first-time ‘public engagers (?)’ might have.
Events like this are definitely useful, not just because you ‘learn’ something new. Even more importantly than that you get to hear other people’s experiences, and also meet people from other departments. It is amazing how stuck in your own ways you can get always being surrounded with the same group of people with the same ideas! Meeting other researchers, in whatever context, always helps rejuvenate the interest in my own research as well!
Filed under: Events and Activities, Public Engagement, Disposal?, exhibitions, organising events, presenting research, Public engagement, public engagement lunchtime sessions, Subhadra Das, UCL museums and Collections, UCL public engagement