Imperial College London

Engagement Academy builds staff leadership and engagement skills


Imperial Engagement Academy 2023 cohort

Engagement Academy 2023 cohort

Imperial's Engagement Academy, open to all staff, sees its fifth cohort successfully complete the programme.

A diverse range of colleagues from across the College met last month for the final day of Imperial’s Engagement Academy. After seven sessions over six months, they made their final presentations to colleagues and managers.

Now in its fifth year, the Engagement Academy brings together College staff with the purpose of developing their engagement practice through experimenting with ideas and exploring the relationship between science and society. The Academy enables attendees to explore how to meaningfully engage with local communities, create activities that are more inclusive and accessible, and to build and improve upon their confidence and communication skills.

From November 2022 to April 2023, the latest cohort of 14 participated in informative discussions and practical activities. Led by Imperial’s Public Engagement Team in collaboration with the Science Communication Unit, the creative programme features guest contributors including previous Poet-in-Residence Dan Simpson and museum, science communication and engagement specialists. The high-quality content, learning materials and teaching approach of the Academy are recognised and accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management.

Laura Fabbri (Clinical Research Fellow, National Heart & Lung Institute) reflected on her experience as part of the 2022/23 Engagement Academy cohort: "The Engagement Academy is a vibrant and exciting environment to learn in. We explored different communications settings, from podcasts to museums, with experts in each sector sharing tips and tricks and empowering us to design, produce, and assess our own activities. Thanks to the teachers, and the network built during the academy, I was able to improve my initial plan, put my ideas into action, and set the pillars for future collaborations."

  • Engagement Academy celebration - April 2023
  • Engagement Academy celebration - April 2023
  • Engagement Academy celebration - April 2023
  • Engagement Academy celebration - April 2023

New learning and skills were clearly on display during the final day where each team presented their engagement project and ideas, reflecting on their experience and hopes for the future. From co-created activities bringing awareness of diabetes, to an event celebrating women scientists, even playing snakes and ladders to showcase the dangers of asthma; it was wonderful to see the meaningful and creative public engagement developed by the latest cohort. The cohort also came up with poems as a reflection on their experiences.

Aimed at both academic and professional services staff, Alumni Engagement Officer Kristin Gembiak recommended future attendees “Make sure to join the Engagement Academy – it’s been a remarkable learning experience from discussing audience and exclusion in science to fun activities such as writing poems inspired by the landscape of Jupiter. Each day is jam-packed focusing on a key topic of engagement leaving you inspired and motivated to kick off you own engagement project. Throughout the Academy, you’ll be part of a buddy group – I very much enjoyed spending time with my group and having that dedicated place to discuss our engagement projects in detail.”

Shyam S Budhathoki (Senior Teaching Fellow, School of Public Health) added: "I thoroughly enjoyed such a good blend of classroom sessions and field visits at the academy. All participants came from different faculties, but I completely felt comfortable as a class as the sessions were designed to be inclusive for people from all disciplines. The Academy has helped me test my ideas with others and to get feedback to improve my engagement. That is invaluable."

Running since 2017, 76 members of staff have completed the Engagement Academy. Many of them have continued to develop their projects, some by successfully applying for Imperial’s Societal Engagement Seed Fund, others by contributing to Imperial Lates and the Great Exhibition Road Festival. Applications to be part of the 2023-24 cohort will open in August 2023. Sign up to the Societal Engagement newsletter for further announcements.


Talat Gokdemir

Talat Gokdemir
Office of the Provost


Societal-engagement, Public-engagement, White-City-Community-Engagement, Staff-development
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