Imperial College London

Students get hands-on in Horizons Module

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Horizons showcase event.

19 second-year undergraduate students have completed their public engagement module as part of Imperial Horizons and I-Explore.

As part of the Imperial Horizons Public Engagement module, second year undergraduate students have spent their academic year learning how to effectively engage the public with research and why doing so is important.

Public engagement can broadly be defined as the ways in which the public can get involved with the activity, benefits, and research of an institution. This might include an activity at a festival, talk or performance, school workshop or a discussion with a patient group.

Through the public engagement module, enrolled students discovered how to deliver enjoyable and meaningful public engagement activities for both themselves and a diverse range of audiences.

Engagement Coordinator Liz Danner says, “Empowering our audiences with STEM begins with our researchers and in the Public Engagement module it begins with our students. By developing and leading their own activities students develop communication skills, stretch their creativity and have a lot of fun too!”

Students first explored the history of public engagement within UK higher education and the evolving relationships between universities and wider society. Through this, they learned what engagement is, why it is important and the key benefits of engaging the public.

Students then focused on designing and planning engagement activities tailored to specific aims and audiences. After experiencing engagement activities first hand through a visit to the Invention Rooms at Imperial’s White City campus, students were supported in developing their own engagement activity ideas (based on Imperial research) before presenting these proposals to the class.

From this, the module gave students the unique opportunity to put what they had learned into practice, working together to translate a piece of Imperial’s research before promoting it on campus with a Student Showcase event. This led to three students presenting their work at the Public Engagement team’s Imperial Lates Sci-Fi event and another volunteering at the university’s flagship public engagement event, the Great Exhibition Road Festival, in June.

Students on the Public Engagement module get realistic real-world public engagement experience Andy Ridgeway

External Examiner and Senior Lecturer in Science Communication at the University of the West of England Andy Ridgeway said, "Students on the Public Engagement module get realistic real-world public engagement experience by presenting activities they develop … I particularly like the integral role that the College's public engagement team plays in the module, allowing students to learn from those with expertise who are not academics - something that is relatively rare in academic institutions."

The module ended with evaluations from each group as they presented their findings and feedback to the class. This helped students to develop valuable evaluation skills to evidence if their activities were successful, a key skill for future researchers.

Horizons student Angela Sousa said, “The sessions were very interactive, and it challenged me to get out of my comfort zone speaking to people. There was a lot of opportunity to develop team working, leadership and public speaking skills which made it much more fun than just having lectures.”

Imperial Horizons is the Centre for Languages, Culture & Communication's flagship programme for undergraduates. They offer a wide range of modules to stimulate personal, professional and intellectual growth across the first, second and third year.

Read more about the public engagement module option.

Reporter

Claire Wells

Claire Wells
Office of the Provost

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