Middlesex researchers have been shortlisted for a national award for their public engagement work. SMASHfestUK is one of three projects shortlisted for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) award, in the national Engage Competition run by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE).
SMASHfestUK is designed to widen participation and build diversity in STEM subjects through the arts and design. The project is an anarchic, interactive festival and outreach programme which uses a narrative-driven and inquiry-led engagement approach and a 'hyperlocal' delivery model to attract young local audiences, aiming to break down any barriers to inclusion.
Middlesex University staff and students from across the Faculty of Science and Technology have been involved in an ambitious programme of events.
"Universities shouldn't be 'ivory towers', but open, collaborative hubs; active in the heart of their local communities," Wyn Griffiths, Product Design Programme Leader at Middlesex University
Middlesex University Product Design Programme Leader and Co-Director - SMASHfestUK, Wyn Griffiths is proud of the University's commitment to public engagement and diversity.
“At Middlesex University, we pride ourselves on the diversity of our student body and our innovative approach to public engagement and recruitment," he says.
“However, this is an on-going battle, as overall diversity in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects is poor.
"Widening participation and working to alleviate imbalance in gender, ethnic and socio-economic diversity is an ethical requirement and urgent mission for Higher Education.
“That is why we are so excited to be the founding and lead academic partner of SMASHfestUK.”
Finalists for the NCCPE award have been selected from over 180 entries which demonstrate a broad range of high quality activities to inspire and involve public audiences.
Finalists’ work ranged from digitally reconstructing city histories to protecting endangered species; from working with older people as researchers to delivering hyper-local science festivals; from young children conducting their own research to influence the United Nations, to using theatre to improve oral health outcomes.
There are six competition categories, and the winner of each category will receive a prize of £1,500 to go towards further public engagement work. The winners will be decided on the 28 November, before being announced at an awards ceremony as part of Engage 2016, the NCCPE’s annual conference, on 29 November 2016.
Find out how you can get involved in SMASHfestUK 2017