Calls are now open for contributions to the 2018 Engage Conference. We hear from Nathan Green and Denise Sime who presented at last year’s conference. They discuss their experience of sharing their learnings on LoL-Lab, a co-created comedy event between Imperial researchers and the public. If you would like to apply to be part of this year’s conference, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for support with an application.
What is the Engage conference?
Nathan: The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) annual conference, Engage 2017, was held over two days in December in Bristol. We saw presenting at this workshop as a fantastic opportunity to share lessons from our own public engagement experience.
In this guest blog, Imperial‘s Cathy Thomas offers advice on how to use social media to engage (and involve!) the public in your research. What have your experiences with using social media for engagement been? Share your experiences in the comments.
Why bother with social media?
There are over one billion active users on Facebook and over 100 million monthly Instagram users – which means that if you’re looking to connect with members of the public, it’s worth considering how social media and other digital tools could support or enhance your engagement activity.
The useful thing about social media is that it’s a discursive medium that encourages sharing and participation, so rather than simply using it as a tool to promote what you’re doing, there will be ways in which it can support two-way engagement.
What did you do?
We secured a £1,000 grant from the British Society for Immunology to develop an animated film about latent tuberculosis (TB) infection, which was matched by funding from the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit (HPRU) in Respiratory Infections. So together with my colleagues, Mica Tolosa-Wright and Ishita Marwah, we developed the script and initial version of the film over a period of about 3 months (Feb–April 2017).
What did you do?
‘LOL-lab’ was a collaboration between Imperial scientists and the public. We created and hosted a public ‘science comedy’ event, which was developed jointly with members of the public. LOL-lab was designed to celebrate and share scientific achievements.
We aimed to connect researchers (i.e. biologists, epidemiologists, and mathematicians) with the public through light-hearted, plain-speaking 10-minute talks at an informal stand-up comedy evening event hosted by a professional comedian.