Young people take part in a hands-on demonstration at Imperial Festival

What is societal engagement?

Societal engagement expresses Imperial’s commitment to sharing the wonder and importance of what we do. It is about how we engage with the public – including schools, patients and local communities – to ensure that our education and research benefits society.

Societal engagement is part of our wider external engagement agendas, such as media, policy and industry. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) places societal engagement as a key component of research impact, alongside other forms of impact, such as economic, cultural, legal and environmental.

Our engagement themes

At Imperial, we consider societal engagement as having four key elements:

About our engagement themes

Public engagement with research

In an increasingly connected world, partnership with society can help us deliver outstanding research outcomes.

We’re always looking for opportunities to bring fresh perspectives to our research, and to use these insights to help shape our work. Universities have a unique responsibility in society as accountable sites of transformational education and research. Inspirational engagement activities can help ensure that members of the public, regardless of their background, can participate in research that’s relevant to their daily lives.

Schools outreach

We’re seeking to engage more young people with the world of science and technology, regardless of their background.

Our staff and students work with schools, colleges, parents and community organisations, sharing their expertise to engage young people in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). We aim to raise aspirations, ensuring that young people understand what opportunities are available to them after leaving school, and helping them to fulfil their potential.

Discover more about our outreach work with schools.

If you're a teacher or school student, find out about our activities and resources. We've also developed a range of online CPD for teachers and digital primary school resources.  

Further engagement themes

Patient and public involvement

Partnering with patients and the public helps us improve health and healthcare.

Patients and the public have long supported Imperial’s work, from offering fresh perspectives on how research is designed and delivered to taking part in clinical research studies themselves. Collaborating on research in this way ensures that our work reflects the needs and views of the wider public, and is more likely to produce results that benefit health.

Learn more about patient and public involvement and the Patient Experience Research Centre.

Community engagement

We’re working with our neighbouring communities in White City to ensure that Imperial’s work is relevant locally as well as globally.

Our vision for local community engagement is to work in partnership with local residents and organisations to make an enduring and positive impact. We aim to inspire local people from different ages and backgrounds by raising and realising aspirations through innovative engagement.