We believe that engaging society with research is an integral part of what it means to be an academic. It generates mutual benefits for both the public and researchers, enriches the academic experience, and enhances the quality, reach and impact of research.
Reuben College focuses on areas of research that explore challenging issues, pose thought-provoking questions, and hold potential for bringing wide range of benefits to society in the future. This is why at Reuben we promote a unique flavour of public engagement: interdisciplinary public engagement that involves both basic and translational scientists, life sciences and the humanities, social sciences and the public, creating a new vision of how our research can address 21st century challenges.
While many of our fellows already run a range of engagement projects, two Official Fellows in Public Engagement with Research (PER) – Janet Stott (Deputy Director and Head of Public Engagement at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History) and Catarina Vicente (Science Strategy and Projects Manager at the Dunn School of Pathology) – provide the expertise and leadership that ensures all our students, whether in taught or research-based courses, have the opportunity to receive training in public engagement, and run or participate in their own initiatives if they wish so.
Throughout the year all students (whether or not participating in the Innovation Fund - see below) as well as College Fellows and staff, can benefit from the expertise of Reuben's PER Fellows, and can participate in termly events on best practice in PER.
It is our hope that when students eventually leave us, they are equipped with the skills and experience that will allow them to become engaged professionals, whether in academia or in the broad range of other career paths available to our graduates.
Reuben PER Innovation Fund
One of our flagship PER initiatives is the Reuben PER Innovation Fund, which allows teams of two or more students from different subjects to apply for small and large grants to run their own public engagement projects. This fund allows students to develop their leadership and public engagement skills, as well as start to build a funding track record. The students are fully supported in the application process and subsequent projects: all students have access to an introduction to PER interactive session, a funding workshop to help them put together their application and successful projects are mentored by Reuben Fellows.
Our first round of funding supported 6 excellent projects covering a wide range of PER, from initiatives aimed at patient groups in Oxfordshire to engaging with specific communities in northern Pakistan or Uruguay, from workshops to videos and podcasts. Awardees are studying for a variety of Masters and PhD degrees, and for their PER projects established collaborations with other students at Reuben or from other colleges across Oxford. The awardees of our second round of funding will be announced in the near future.