Public engagement with research

Our public engagement work covers the ways in which our research and teaching is shared with the public.

Our mission is to deliver economic, social, cultural, health and wellbeing benefits for society and the environment.

We support research-led public engagement through training, mentoring and funding. Our work with community partners covers participatory approaches, citizen science projects, and patient and public involvement in health and medical research. We also celebrate and reward this activity through our Making A Difference awards which include categories for public engagement, research impact and benefit to society through research.

We’re ranked first in the world for impact by the Times Higher Education University Impact rankings (2021) and our public engagement excellence is accredited with a National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement Gold Engage Watermark.

Social inclusion

We‘re engaging with, involving and inspiring, people on our campus, in communities and around the world to develop our understanding of social inclusion and how we can foster inclusive and effective solutions.

Everyday Austerity project

For example, through public engagement we have been able to showcase the impact of austerity policies on everyday life for families and communities in Greater Manchester. As a result, we’ve advised, trained and empowered a wide range of local groups and communities to tackle social injustices resulting from austerity. Using an exhibition format, we were able to turn peoples’ stories into a series of drawings, photographs, audio excerpts and objects to engage the public and bring these experiences to life.

Better health

Involving and engaging patients and members of the public in research, teaching and learning is an integral part of our work.

Britain Breathing project

For example, we've been encouraging the UK population to act as ‘citizen sensors’ to help scientists better understand seasonal allergies like hay fever and asthma and their triggers. In partnership with the British Society for Immunology and the Royal Society of Biology, our School of Biological Sciences and Department of Computer Science have developed a free app that allows the public to record their allergy symptoms, and where they occur geographically, and safely share that data with the project team. This data set can then be combined with other publicly available data (such as weather, pollen or pollution statistics) to build a better understanding at a national and personal level of allergies and allergy triggers.

Environmental sustainability

We’re working with local and global communities to tackle key environmental sustainability challenges such as climate change, population growth, rapid urbanisation, overconsumption, food and water security, loss of biodiversity and pollution.  

Performances of The Lived Experience of Climate Change: A Story of One Piece of Land in Dhaka

For example, our researchers were able to team up with a diverse range of partners to raise awareness of the everyday realities and impact of climate change on the lives of low-income people in Bangladesh. Through public engagement, they produced interactive theatre performances, documentary films, educational programmes and public events, which have been viewed by more than 240,000 people.

Cultural engagement

Our cultural institutions – Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre; John Rylands Research Institute and Library; Manchester Museum; and the Whitworth – foster opportunities for engaging the public in our collections and research. This covers a range of activies, from the bluedot festival, to the co-production of the new South Asia and Chinese Culture galleries.