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The Public Engagement Lab: develop collaborative projects

Are you interested in public engagement with research but not sure where to start? Are you keen to develop your public engagement practice or flex your creative muscles? If you’ve got a story to tell we’ll help you find a powerful way to tell it.

This new programme will connect Oxford’s researchers* with cultural practitioners to explore and develop new ways of engaging the public with contemporary science research, drawing on creative approaches as well as the collections of the Museum of Natural History, Pitt Rivers Museum and the Bodleian Libraries and the experience of their staff.

No previous engagement experience or existing public engagement ideas or plans are necessary to apply. You will work collaboratively with staff from Oxford’s museums and libraries in teams to generate creative ideas to introduce broad audiences to concepts emerging from Oxford University, while enhancing your own knowledge and skills.

Over the course of three interactive one-day workshops you will:

  • Hear from inspirational speakers and case studies of innovative engagement projects from a range of sectors
  • Gain insights into different audience’s needs and motivations
  • Benefit from knowledge sharing between cultural staff and other researchers
  • Work together to explore and develop new ideas
  • Prototype tools such as storyboarding, narrative structure and emotional journey mapping
  • Have opportunities to test practical methods of delivery
  • Learn practical approaches towards designing for and evaluating impact
  • Gather tips for honing and pitching ideas and develop your skills

The final workshop will include a live pitch opportunity where you and your collaborators can bid for funding. A selection of the new engagement project idea(s) will be supported and realised over the course of the following year. Any projects chosen for funding will be supported through a year-long project development process led by the public engagement facilitators in MPLS and MSD, as appropriate.

The programme will challenge you to think about how to engage the public with research in new and unexpected ways. In addition, you will leave with:

  • New contacts, expanded networks, and the opportunity to play a part in deepening connections across the University.
  • Practical experience of working with museums, libraries and other culture institutions.
  • An understanding of how your own work can be advanced through meaningful engagement with the public.


This three day course will take place across 5 weeks. Applicants must be available to attend all three days:

  • Workshop 1: Tues 30 Oct, 9-5 – St Luke’s Chapel and networking wine reception, 5.30-8pm (optional), LOCATION TBC
  • Workshop 2: TBC:  Weds 14 Nov, 9-5 – Pitt River’s Museum
  • Workshop 3: Mon 26 Nov, 9-5 – St Luke’s Chapel

Lunch and refreshments will be provided.


Up to 12 researchers will be chosen to take part through a competitive application process.

Deadline for applications will be 5pm Friday 28 September.

Successful applicants will be notified by Wednesday 10 October.

Selection Criteria

We will be using a blind application process. Applications will be anonymised before being reviewed by a panel. The following criteria will be used to select participants:

  • Enthusiasm for and interest in your subject and engaging the public with research
  • Good communication skills
  • Open to collaboration and team working
  • Open-mindedness, creativity and flexibility

Previous experience with public engagement is not necessary.

To apply, simply fill out this application form.

You can download a word template to plan your answers here.


This project is funded through the EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account, therefore researchers in any Division working in EPSRC-related areas are eligible to apply (you do not need to be funded by EPSRC). 

DPhil students are not eligible to apply, this programme is open to early career researchers, mid-career researchers and academics.

You must be able to attend each of the three day-long sessions (networking reception optional).

Prior experience of public engagement with research is not required, but you must be open to engaging the public with research, new ideas and ways of working, and willing to embrace a collaborative and experimental approach to idea development.

If you have any questions, please contact