What is public engagement

Public engagement: what and why

Public engagement describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit.

Public engagement starts with the question: What is happening in society? By looking at the ways research can help answer answer or clarify these societal questions, a meaningful dialogue between research and audience starts, that benefits both.

We see public engagement as complimentary to policy engagement (engaging with policy makers and politics) and business engagement (engaging with commercial enterprises).


Why is it necessary and important to engage a general audience?

Utrecht University rector magnificus prof. dr. Henk Kummeling explains why universities should engage a general audience

Public engagement creates benefits to:

  • The public: increased understanding of the outcomes and process of science and of issues science can throw a light on; a chance to be part of science; it's fun
  • Researchers: Improve communication and other skills; helps to see the bigger picture, reminds you why you're doing it; new ideas, challenge thinking; it's rewarding
  • Universities: raises the university profile positively; improves grant funding; provides opportunities for staff to develop
  • Society as a whole: enables us all to make more informed choices; inspires the next generations of scientists; challenges rooted convictions; enables progress