People in Wales will be able to play a much more interactive role in the work of higher education institutions thanks to a collaborative partnership of leading Welsh organisations.
Cardiff University, University of Glamorgan, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, Techniquest and BBC Wales have come together and successfully bid to become Wales’ only Beacon for Public Engagement, and will now lead Welsh universities in working more closely with the public.
[About this video: Torchwood is a 13-part British sci-fi thriller TV drama series from BBC Wales aimed at a post-watershed audience. Written by Russell T Davies.]
BBC WALES Torchwood Trailer
A total of six beacons are to be set up, including others in Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, London, and Edinburgh.
There will also be a UK-wide co-ordinating centre based in Bristol, which will work across the initiative to promote best practice and provide a single point of contact for the whole higher education sector.
The Beacon for Wales was chosen from 87 bidders from around the UK, and will share in a £9.2M funding pot over four years.
Acting as a catalyst for other higher education institutions across Wales, the Beacon for Wales will open up opportunities for people outside academic communities to better understand, support and challenge research undertaken in universities.
[Pictured above: Welsh National Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan]
First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: “Wales is gaining a reputation as a world-class “research hub” with a wealth of very exciting research being undertaken at Welsh universities, which is relevant to our everyday lives.
I welcome this initiative because I am confident that it will bring the work of Wales’ academic talent to a wider audience.”
Professor Ken Woodhouse, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Engagement at Cardiff University, the lead partner in the Beacon for Wales, said:
[Pictured above: Cardiff University Pro Vice-Chancellor for External Affairs Professor Ken Woodhouse MD FRCP ILTM]
“This initiative will ensure that the public has a greater understanding of the work of higher education institutions, as well as making sure our universities understand how the public feels about issues ranging from science, business and the arts, to language, the environment, history and health.
“We are excited at the prospect of working with our partners to spread ambition and best practice that will inspire academic and research staff across the whole of Wales.
"We are keen to see public engagement activities such as debates, dialogues or exhibitions, media appearances or outreach work become as much of a priority for university staff as the more the traditional roles.
"This is why one of our earliest tasks is to put in place the right structure to support academia in planning and delivering innovative and rewarding activities that run side by side with research and teaching.”
Beacons for Public Engagement is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, Higher Education Funding Council for England, and UK Research Councils UK in association with the Wellcome Trust.
The Welsh Beacon will address these issues by taking practical steps to encourage and reward innovative, exciting engagement activities that reach all groups throughout Wales.
It will pilot four new public engagement programmes and develop best practice guidance on how to reach audiences with activities that encourage social, ethical and scientific debate.
The four pilot projects will explore subjects as varied as our place in the future; health and well being; climate and sustainability and the Welsh identity in the 21st century.
[Pictured above: Professor Rod Dubrow-Marshall, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Glamorgan]
Professor Rod Dubrow-Marshall, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Glamorgan said:
“Our Beacon is about engaging with, listening to and learning from the communities with whom we live and work and we are ready to put our plans into action.
"By combining the expertise, experience and geographical reach of these leading Welsh institutions, the Beacon for Wales will give public engagement a renewed sense of status, a renewed sense of purpose and a renewed energy, not only within our institutions but throughout Wales.”
[Pictured above: Professor Philip Gummett, Chief Executive of HEFCW]
Professor Philip Gummett, Chief Executive of HEFCW, said:
“Backing this initiative with other UK partners has given us a wonderful opportunity to support institutions in Wales to build on their existing excellent work to make what they do more understandable to the public in Wales, as well as get a real dialogue going.
"The diversity of the partners within the Beacon for Wales means they will be able to collectively work with and learn from communities all across our nation.”
[Pictured above: Professor Alan Thorpe, RCUK Champion for Science in Society and Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council]
Speaking on behalf of Research Councils UK, Professor Alan Thorpe, RCUK Champion for Science in Society and Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council, said,
‘Much of the work carried out by higher education institutions has a direct effect on people’s lives, so it is important that they are able to access them and have their say.'
'The Beacons will do this by giving people the chance to get involved directly.'
'They will also help redefine what it means to be a university in the 21st century, making public interactions and social considerations a core part of the role of any member of staff or student in any discipline.’
Issued by: University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, CF37 1DL
Contact: Press Office on 01443 483362
For additional info please contact Dr. Mark Leslie Woods at mwoods[at]glam.ac.uk
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