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In recent years there has been a growing recognition in government and the scientific community
of the need to move away from an old model of the public understanding of science (known as
PUS) to one which involves public engagement in science and dialogue between scientists and
the public. Today, the term Public Engagement (PE) with science or research is used most
frequently by people working in this area.
What is public engagement?
The Research Councils use Public Engagement as an umbrella term for any activity that engages
the public with research, from science communication in science centres or festivals, to
consultation, to public dialogue. Any good engagement activity should involve two-way aspects
of listening and interaction.
As the Research Councils, we seek to create a culture where the research sector and researchers
themselves value public engagement as an important activity, and where an awareness of social
and ethical issues informs research decisions.
Why should the research sector engage with the public?
If we involve and listen to the public (and encourage our research communities to involve and
listen to the public) then our decisions and research should be more responsive to society, and
therefore more likely to have a positive impact in return for the investment.
Similarly, if we talk to the public (and encourage our research communities to talk to the public)
about the outputs of our research then society will share in the benefits of that knowledge, whether
for their health, wealth or culture, and therefore the research will have had maximum impact.
And if we encourage researchers to interact with schools to enrich studentsí experiences
then we can help improve the supply of skilled people to the research base and the UK