Stories of Engagers: Werner Raub

Professor of Sociology Werner Raub has been a member of the task force since the start of the Public Engagement program, a driving force that monitors the progress of the program. “Team Science offers the opportunity to specialise; one researcher primarily teaches or conducts research, and another researcher gives priority to public engagement."

Werner Raub
Werner Raub

One task of the task force is to "keep a finger on the pulse". How do you do that?

“I believe the initiators for the task force also wanted a member as loyal opposition, which speaks in the favour of the initiators. I think that’s why a few years ago, I was asked to join the task force.”

“In my role, on the one hand, I check whether the individual support is adequate and whether researchers are not being pushed from pillar to post. We want to prevent duplicate work between departments. On the other hand, I think it is important that researchers who currently do not want to do anything with public engagement, are not unnecessarily bothered with it. Every euro that goes to public engagement can no longer be spent on research and teaching.”

The theme of opening of the 2019-2020 Academic Year was 'Recognition and Appreciation'. In addition, one of the goals of the Public Engagement program is to develop a culture in which public engagement is seen more as a fully-fledged way to achieve impact. How do you look at that? As a member of the task force, but also as a researcher?

“There should be less emphasis on the evaluation of individual researchers and more on the evaluation of research groups. Belle Derks spoke about Team Science during the opening of the Academic Year. I’m a supporter of Team Science because it offers all kinds of benefits, including the possibility to specialise. One researcher could primarily teach or conduct research, and another researcher gives priority to public engagement. Not every member of a research group has to do everything. Team Science can also be a means to counteract work pressure.”

How is that within the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences?

“In my department at the Faculty of Social and Behavourial Sciences, I see more attention has been paid to social impact in recent years. People try to make sure public engagement is mainly done by colleagues who have talent for it and want to do it. Public engagement should not become a check box on a researcher's assessment form.”

How do you see the future of the public engagement program?

“I do not see public engagement as a task for every individual researcher. Of course, public engagement and the promotion of public understanding of science are an important responsibility for the university and the faculties, departments and research groups. A good support culture is important to give it a permanent place. I see a great opportunity for the program there.”