Glamorgan's Shining Light

Wales’ leading lights to become Beacon for Wales and public engagement
(Left to right) Mike Tooby, Director of Learning and Programmes, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales;
(back) Karen Lewis, Partnerships Manager, BBC Wales;
(front) Dr Rachel Iredale Senior Research Associate, University of Glamorgan;
Prof Ken Woodhouse, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Engagement, Cardiff University;
Peter Trevitt, Chief Executive, Techniquest

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.

The University of Glamorgan, Cardiff University, 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.

The Beacon for Wales will encourage universities to make wider contributions to society by engaging communities more fully in their work and is part of the biggest initiative of its kind ever launched in the UK.

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.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan said: âEURoeWales 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.âEUR

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. It brings together a number of different funders with the common goal of achieving a more joined up and embedded approach to public engagement and was created in response to a survey that identified barriers to participation in public engagement by higher education institutions.

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.

Professor Rod Dubrow-Marshall, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Glamorgan said: âEURoeOur 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.âEUR

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.”

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.”



One comment


    Mark Brake

    November 9, 2007

    The National Co-ordinating Centre is a partnership between the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England, and the Beacons are:

    · University of Cardiff / University of Glamorgan / Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales / BBC Wales / Techniquest

    · University College London / Southbank Centre / British Museum and other partners

    · University of East Anglia and other partners

    · University of Edinburgh / Heriot-Watt University / Napier University / UHI Millennium Institute and other partners

    · University of Manchester / Manchester Metropolitan / University of Salford / Museum of Science and Industry / Manchester:Knowledge Capital

    · University of Newcastle / Durham University / Centre for Life

    For more information, please see the full press release at http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/news/beaconsnov07.htm

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