Engaging society in times of change

After a year like no other, one where science and research have been in the spotlight, Engagement Week 2021 explored how we can better engage with society in times of change and crisis.  

Keynote

Fozia Irfan - Director of Children and Young People, BBC Children in Need

Fozia is responsible for grant-making at Children in Need, ensuring that donations to the charity have the greatest impact on young people in the UK who need it most. She is also the founder of the DEI Coalition, a network of philanthropic funders committed to diversity and inclusion.

Engagement Week 2021 - Keynote with Fozia Irfan, BBC Children in Need

Other highlights

We heard from other top speakers in cultural, engagement and communication professions including:

Rachel Mackay - Manager, Historic Royal Palaces, Kew and founder of the Recovery Room
Rachel's research, alongside her 20-year career in the cultural sector, has made her an expert in helping attractions bounce back from crises. Tune in to hear about resilience in culture and engagement.
Andy Ridgway  - Science Communication Lecturer, University of the West of England
Andy has a background in journalism, working with the BBC, New Scientist and The Economist. He will share insights into how people make sense of information during COVID-19 and what that means for our communications. 

Dr Nicola Lang - Director of Public Health, Hammersmith and Fulham Council
Nicola is at the forefront of the pandemic response in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. She graduated in Medicine from Imperial and later specialised in public health, with a particular focus on marginalised groups.
Nicola is at the forefront of the pandemic response in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. She graduated in Medicine from Imperial and later specialised in public health, with a particular focus on marginalised groups.

Our interactive workshops explored some of the skills, ideas and understandings we have developed in the last year. Workshops included:

  • ADAPT: Rethinking how we plan engagement activities in times of change and uncertainty
  • COMMUNICATE: Interacting, presenting and collaborating online
  • CELEBRATE: Sharing our successes in public engagement and beyond
  • ACTIVATE: Finding time and motivation for engagement work
  • GOING OFFLINE: Digital exclusion and working with community groups

Discover the full programme below or download the Engagement Week programme (PDF).

Engagement Week full programme


Tuesday 20 April

 

Welcome
Prof Maggie Dallman, OBE

9.45-10.00

Maggie is Vice President (International), Associate Provost (Academic Partnerships) and Professor of Immunology. She leads on Imperial's Societal Engagement strategy.

Keynote
Fozia Irfan, OBE, FRSA

10.00 - 11.00

Fozia is the Director for Children and Young People at BBC Children in Need. She is responsible for ensuring that all donations to Children in Need are distributed effectively and equitably with the greatest impact for children and young people in the UK. She has a background leading community foundations and created the DEI Coalition - a network of philanthropic funders committed to diversity and inclusion. She is also working with the Health Foundation on the impacts of COVID-19 on the most vulnerable in our society.

Break  

Lightning talks

11.30-12.30

Hear how Imperial colleagues have engaged with the public in innovative ways throughout the pandemic. Speakers from across the College will have 5 minutes to share their creative approaches to engagement.

Creative lunch
Public engagement requires creativity! So grab your sandwiches and join us to have a go at something different. You never know what ideas it may spark.

Illustrated lettering | 12.30-13.10
Try out some calligraphy and illustrate words with artist Abby Hobbs – all you need is a pen and paper.

Quick-fire poetry | 13.00-13.30
Join poet Dan Simpson to take part in fun and energetic exercises – you might be surprised with what you create.

 
Summary of the table's contents

Wednesday 21 April

 
Creative lunch
Public engagement requires creativity! So grab your sandwiches and join us to have a go at something different. You never know what ideas it may spark.
 

Illustrated lettering | 12.30-13.10
Try out some calligraphy and illustrate words with artist Abby Hobbs – all you need is a pen and paper. 

Quick-fire poetry | 13.00-13.30
Join poet Dan Simpson to take part in fun and energetic exercises – you might be surprised with what you create.

In conversation: Resilience and crises in culture and engagement  
Rachel Mackay

13.30-14.30

With 20 years' experience in the cultural sector and a passion for enabling attractions to provide great visitor experiences, Rachel has a wealth of knowledge to share from her learnings over the past year. Not only is she the Manager of the Historic Royal Palaces, Kew, she is also the Founder of The Recovery Room - a platform that's helping heritage charities rebuild and recover after the COVID-19 shutdowns. Rachel has also recently completed a research project analysing how museums and heritage organisations have responded to the pandemic from a crisis management perspective.

Break  

Workshops
Take your pick of our interactive workshops exploring some of the skills, ideas and understandings we have developed in the last year.

15.00-16.30

ADAPT: Rethinking how we plan engagement activities in times of change and uncertainty
Scott McKenzie-Cook - Events Manager, Science Museum
How have we adapted our events and programmes in order to deliver something meaningful during the pandemic? Join Scott to discuss how his team has responded when the museum had to close its doors. This workshop aims to broaden your horizons about what is possible during the restrictions and offers guidance on coping with ever-changing circumstances.

[FULLY BOOKED] COMMUNICATE: Interacting, presenting and collaborating online
Will Houstoun (Magician in Residence) and James Romero (Public Engagement Manager) - Imperial
How do we communicate with our public audiences and participants through digital platforms when often we can’t see them? At times it can feel like we’re ‘talking into the void’. What additional skills do we need when we’re presenting online, and how can we build rapport, storytelling and participation into our virtual activities? Join magician Will Houston and James from the Public Engagement team to share communication tips for online engagement.  

CELEBRATE: Sharing our successes in public engagement and beyond*
Ashley Kent - Science Communicator and #IAmRemarkable Workshop Facilitator
Many of us struggle when it comes to talking about our own accomplishments. Cultural and gender modesty norms as well as impostor syndrome can prevent anyone from acknowledging their remarkable attributes and expressing their achievements. For many, this has only heightened during the pandemic and working from home. Join #IAmRemarkable workshop facilitator Ashley to learn the importance of self-promotion in your personal and professional life and be equipped with tools to develop this skill.  #IAmRemarkable was established as a Google initiative empowering women and underrepresented groups to speak openly about their accomplishments. This workshop is open to all.

*This workshop is repeated on Thursday.

 
Summary of the table's contents

Thursday 22 April

 

Workshops
Take your pick of our interactive workshops exploring some of the skills, ideas and understandings we have developed in the last year.

10.00-11.30

ACTIVATE: Finding time and motivation for engagement
Simon Foster - Physics Outreach Officer, Imperial
With so many changes and demands on our time, both at work and at home, how do we move forward with our engagement ideas? How can we maximise the value gained from the time we do manage to carve out for engagement and outreach? Join Simon to share tips and ideas for 'keeping going', hear about the new projects he has managed to get off the ground during the last twelve months and consider how to build momentum and buy-in
.

GOING OFFLINE: Digital exclusion and working with community groups
Priya Pallan (Community Engagement Manager, Imperial) and Nikos Souslous (Co-founder and Director, Ready Tech Go)
Whilst many of our engagement and outreach activities have moved online during the pandemic, for some of our audiences, lack of digital access prevents them from taking part. Join Priya and Nikos, of our community partners, to hear about the picture of digital exclusion and why it’s important to consider access to technology and the internet in our public engagement. Discuss ideas for how to stay connected with communities at risk of digital exclusion alongside real examples from engagement work in White City.  

CELEBRATE: Sharing our successes in public engagement and beyond
Ashley Kent - #IAmRemarkable Workshop Facilitator
Many of us struggle when it comes to talking about our own accomplishments. Cultural and gender modesty norms as well as impostor syndrome can prevent anyone from acknowledging their remarkable attributes and expressing their achievements. For many, this has only heightened during the pandemic and working from home. Join #IAmRemarkable workshop facilitator Ashley to learn the importance of self-promotion in your personal and professional life and be equipped with tools to develop this skill.  #IAmRemarkable was established as a Google initiative empowering women and underrepresented groups to speak openly about their accomplishments. This workshop is open to all.

Break  

In conversation: Communicating science during a pandemic
Andy Ridgway
Dr Nicola Lang
Chair: Dr Felicity Mellor

12.00-13.15

A journalist for over 20 years, Andy has worked with the BBC, New Scientist and The Economist, including as Deputy Editor for BBC Focus. Andy is a Senior Lecturer in Science Communication at the University of the West of England. His latest work - part of a large European project, RETHINK, exploring digital science communication - is looking at how people make sense of the information they receive about COVID-19 from varied sources. 

As the Director of Public Health in Hammersmith and Fulham, Nicola has been leading the response to the pandemic in the borough alongside other public health initiatives. She graduated from Imperial in 2000 with a degree in medicine and completed specialist public health training in South West London and the Department of Health in 2011. Nicola is dedicated to improving the health of marginalised groups including people in contact with the criminal justice system, looked after children, homeless persons, and people with mental health or substance misuse issues.

Felicity is a Senior Lecturer and Course Director for Imperial's Science Communication MSc. She specialises in the media representation of science. Her research projects have included a content analysis of the impartiality of the BBC's science coverage.

Closing remarks
Prof Maggie Dallman, OBE

13.15-13.30

Maggie is Vice President (International), Associate Provost (Academic Partnerships) and Professor of Immunology. She leads on Imperial's Societal Engagement strategy.
 
Summary of the table's contents

Socially distanced engagement activity in the Invention Rooms