The Beltane Public Engagement Network by Sarah Anderson
The Beltane Public Engagement Network (Beltane) is network for people interested in making academic research accessible to a wide variety of audiences.
The Beltane is a supported by four Edinburgh universities: the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University. The Beltane follows on from, and builds on, the work of the Edinburgh Beltane Beacon for Public Engagement project which was one of six UK Beacons for Public Engagement funded by Research Councils UK, the Funding Councils and the Wellcome Trust. The Beacons were established in 2008 to bridge the gap between researchers working at the cutting edge and the people their research will affect.
Inspired by the proximity of Holyrood, the Beltane has a theme of enabling access to research relevant to public policy. With a Scottish Parliament which prides itself on accessibility, we are well placed to support people when they engage with the research which affects devolved issues.
We are a small team based in the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Academic Development (IAD). We support university staff and students in our network through formal and informal learning programmes, fellowships, and opportunities to engage. We provide information about the growing field of, and issues around public engagement through our website, twitter, ebulletins, and introductory sessions. We also work to build meaningful dialogue about the role of engaged universities in Scotland with MSPs at the Scottish Parliament.
Beltane’s operating principals are based on the concept of “Engaged Practice”
We strive to be, and encourage others to be:
- Engaging, Interesting, Relevant, Responsive, and Reflective
- Respectful, Collaborative and Supportive
- Creative, Constructive and Innovative and
Our vision is of a Scotland in the near future where a culture of public engagement is embedded in Higher Education Institutions. Indicators of this include:
- Researchers feel willing and able to engage;
- Researchers participating in public engagement have formed strong communities;
- Public engagement is supported, recognised, rewarded and valued in Higher Education Institutions;
- The public, policymakers and other stakeholders see public engagement as a Higher Education Institution role and expect/demand researcher involvement;
- Researchers receive a clear message from funders that public engagement is part of their role
Beltane would welcome inquiries from people who wish to work with one or more of Edinburgh’s universities…