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International public engagement strategy

A high proportion of Wellcome Trust-funded science in low- and middle-income countries involves research with people, often in a community setting. Through our support for public engagement activities in these countries, we aim to encourage a social atmosphere in which relevant and ethical research can be conducted, create a demand for scientifically sound information and debate, and cultivate the conditions that enable the changes suggested by our research to be implemented. We also regard engagement as a fundamental aspect of basic research.

Background

From 2006 to 2011, a public engagement strand of activity complemented the international research work supported by the Trust. Key activities were as follows.

Supporting the public engagement needs of our Major Overseas Programmes and other major groups of Wellcome Trust researchers. Each of the Programmes has appointed a dedicated public engagement officer, and annual international workshops have improved the sharing of good practice and the creation of a network of practitioners in public engagement across the Programmes and beyond.

Supporting and developing public engagement activities though a small grants programme. A wide variety of activities were funded, including science discussion groups such as cafés scientifiques, community-led and participatory research projects, artists-in-residence at research centres, media training workshops, and various new media and multi-media projects.

Our strategy for 2011-16

As part of our current strategy, we are focusing on the activities listed below.

Provide support for international Wellcome-funded researchers. We will further extend our public engagement support for our overseas programmes and our other overseas researchers. This will include identifying training and development opportunities, and sharing experience of effective ways of engaging with relevant communities.

Support a network of public engagement practitioners across our international programmes. We will continue to deliver an annual international workshop to share expertise and develop skills. This will be regionally focused and will allow our researchers and overseas programme leaders to engage with relevant experts from other domains.

Support a focused programme of grant activity. Our funding schemes are currently being developed. We support public engagement activities in regions where our research funding is focused: sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia. We encourage projects that work in partnership with community groups, cultural organisations or those in creative industries. This funding includes both small and more substantive grants, and supports activities that:

  • stimulate dialogue about biomedical research and its impact on the public in a range of community and public contexts
  • strengthen capacity to conduct public engagement with biomedical science and health and research.

Develop a programme to evaluate, gather evidence and disseminate good practice. We will work to instigate effective evaluation of public engagement activities and the generation of new practical resources, so that others can learn from experience. We will also showcase and communicate successes and effective outcomes.

Embed engagement. We will work to ensure that engagement is considered an integral part of our research activities from proposals, funding decisions, operations and evaluation.

For information on funding opportunities for engagement in low- and middle-income countries, visit the International Engagement Award pages or find out about our funding for public engagement within our research grants.

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