We are pleased to announce that TORCH Early Career Fellow Dr Oliver Cox has won an Early Career Researcher Award at the The Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Awards 2016. He won the award for his work linking audiences to archives. Find out more about Oliver's Thames Valley Country House Partnership here.
How have you engaged the public in your research?
Since my appointment as a Knowledge Exchange Fellow in October 2013 I have developed a range of innovative public engagement with research activities designed to link audiences to archives. Projects having included developing a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the National Trust, designed to crowd source academic content to engage their core ‘Curious Mind’ audience; being an adviser to, and presenter of, Stowe House Preservation Trust multimedia guide; and establishing the Thames Valley Country House Partnership, an initiative that creates sustainable relationships between country houses, heritage and tourism organisations and the University.
What have been the benefits of engaging the public in your research?
The activities have benefitted my development as a researcher in a number of ways, including opening up previously neglected archive material; improving my communication skills through giving public talks; and providing new and different opportunities to share my research, for example through writing book reviews and working with organisations who are eager to develop more sustained partnerships with HEIs.
The public benefit of the project with the National Trust can be measured in the increased ‘Visitor Experience’ scores at the properties where I have worked, where the target audience stay longer and spend more thanks to the richer, nuanced and engaging content.
How have you supported the development of a culture of engaging the public with research?
Since April 2014, I have worked to build capacity within the University for students and colleagues to collaborate with the heritage sector. For example I worked closely with the Humanities Division training officer to deliver three ‘Working with Heritage’ workshops, and provided 30 funded internships with my heritage partners via the Careers Service.