An Imperial researcher and musician engage members of the public on Exhibition road

Looking for engagement ideas to include in your research proposal? 

Societal engagement encompasses activities designed to engage society and the public with our education and research – for example, schools outreach, community engagement, patient engagement and public engagement with research.

There are many ways in which our staff and students can participate in societal engagement through existing platforms and programmes across the college. These programmes offer a way in which to engage a variety of different audiences with research, and can be adapted according to research area and purpose of engagement. Some examples listed are ongoing programmes set up and ready for you to get involved, and others might serve as inspiration for projects you might create.

The main themes of engagement and examples of activities include:

Key engagement themes

Schools Engagement, Widening Participation and Access

Activities related to outreach work with schools, and with children and young people of school age, as well as support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Such activities could include:

  • CPD training for teachers and/or summer schools to engage teachers with the College and higher education / STEM;
  • Visits to schools or hosting groups of young people at the College. For example:

              - Developing and delivering classroom activities and presentations including through the Reaching Further programme
              - Supporting and hosting visits to the Reach Out Lab, Reach Out Makerspace or departmental visits
              - Tutoring or mentoring students (for example through the Pimlico Connections tutoring scheme, or the Imperial CREST Academy);

Community Engagement

Activities seeking to engage our local communities in White City, South Kensington, and around our other campuses. Such activities could include:

  • Volunteering programmes whereby College staff and students work with community groups, for example to help them develop skills and confidence in technology related areas (for example the ‘What the Tech’ project led by the Business School);
  • Relationship-building activities, including with local stakeholder groups, and activities to support consultation with the local community;
  • Programmes to improve community education and health outcomes (for example the ‘Translating TB’ project led by the National Heart and Lung Institute);
  • Programmes to engage community groups with our research and scientific work, including ‘maker’ and ‘hack’ activities and programmes in The Invention Rooms;
  • Activities to help College staff and students get involved in community engagement, such as tours and events;
  • Events to engage the local community with the research and teaching of the College.

Patient Engagement

Research and delivery of effective methods of public and patient participation, involvement and engagement (PPPI/E), for example in collaboration with the Patient Experience Research Centre (PERC) including:

  • Activities associated with the recruitment of expert patients for focused patient boards;
  • Activities associated with the recruitment of patients for larger patient panels and the establishment of community health panels;
  • Activities associated with the ongoing business of patient panels and boards;
  • Staff and student resources for patient engagement, such as training and grants for PPPI/E;
  • Patient newsletters, open days and other communications and events aimed at engaging patients with the health-related research and teaching of the College;
  • Digital platforms to facilitate PPPI/E and connecting College staff and students with patient and community members; 
  • Other patient related engagement work.

Public Engagement with Research

Activities seeking to engage the public with our research, such as:

  • Flagship events to engage the public with the College’s research, including the annual Great Exhibition Road Festival, and Imperial Lates series running throughout the year, as well as other relevant events.
  • Activities at White City such as the Saturday Science Clubs, half-term workshops and activity packs.
  • Art-science collaborations including the poet-in-residence project.
  • Work with young people such as our partnership with North Paddington Youth Club.
  • Activities associated with the development of an institutional strategic plan for engagement with research and with culture change projects, such as the RCUK funded Catalyst Seed Fund project.

Support for engagement

When developing funding proposals and project budgets you may wish to factor in support for enabling engagement. This includes skills development, project support and evaluation.

Support for Engagement

Evaluation and Impact

  • Evaluation and monitoring of specific engagement activities, such as set-piece evaluation projects to identify the impact of specific community engagement initiatives in White City;
  • Support for staff and students seeking to evaluate the effectiveness of their engagement work, for example through training and guidance;
  • Support for staff who are seeking to demonstrate the impact of their engagement work, including within funding applications and case studies, such as for the REF, including through training and guidance;
  • Activities that feed into evaluation and monitoring of the impact of institution-wide societal engagement initiatives, including surveys and focus groups.

Supporting Activities

  • Training for staff and students in societal engagement, public engagement and outreach, evaluation and other related skills development and skills-sharing activities to enable high-quality engagement;
  • Development and promotion of online resources, web pages; audiovisual content, social media and newsletter content to facilitate better communication of societal engagement and opportunities for staff and students to engage society with their work;
  • Dedicated staff roles, consultants or project support.