Public engagement strategy – STFC



Public engagement with science, technology, engineering and mathematics has always been important to STFC. We are funded by the UK public so listening, understanding, and discussing their views of the impact of science and technology on society is both our responsibility and our privilege.

The duration of our current public engagement strategy has been extended due to the pandemic. It contains five key aims that help us achieve our vision of a society that values and participates in scientific endeavour.

Read the STFC public engagement strategy.

We will be developing a refreshed STFC public engagement strategy during 2022.

Strategy summary

Vision and mission

Our vision is of a society that values and participates in scientific endeavour.

Our mission is to use our stories, communities, and facilities as the basis of world-class public engagement that inspires and involves people with our science and technology.

Our key aims

Showcasing STFC science and technology

We will showcase the huge range of science and technology research and development STFC undertakes as part of national and international collaborations. For public engagement, we separate STFC’s work into five themes:

  • big telescopes
  • our material world
  • inside the atom
  • big data and computing
  • dark sky.

In each theme, there are amazing stories of scientific developments, their impact on our lives, and the people that have been involved.

Throughout the strategy period, we will achieve success by:

  • sharing the breadth of science and technology supported by STFC, including coordinating large programmes and leading a number of strategic campaigns for selected highlights such as the James Webb Space Telescope
  • using the personal stories of the STFC community to inspire our audiences and demonstrate that STEM is enjoyable and accessible for all.

Creating and maintaining a high-quality portfolio of accessible public engagement activities and resources that are clearly linked to our five science and technology themes.

Building the right partnerships

Public engagement in the UK is an increasingly rich, inter-connected landscape. STFC is recognised and sought-after as a leader in STEM engagement.

We will work in carefully-selected, mutually-beneficial partnerships to improve the quality, reach, and impact of our engagement even further.

In the current strategy period, we will achieve success by:

  • developing and adopting a partnership charter that provides the framework for building and evaluating sustainable public engagement partnerships
  • creating partnerships with clear goals, that deliver excellent STEM engagement and meet the needs of all parties involved
  • gathering clear evidence that our partnerships have improved the quality, reach, or impact of the public engagement work undertaken by STFC and our partners.

Developing and supporting STEM influencers

By developing, supporting, and working with people who have discovered their passion for STEM engagement, we can establish a culture where STEM thrives. We will train and support role models across STFC: making it easy for our staff to engage with the public, and developing networks and champions within our academic community.

Over the current strategy period, we will achieve success by:

  • raising the public engagement skills of our research communities even further by undertaking appropriate training and networking activities
  • working with networks of STEM influencers to inspire young children and their families using stories of STFC science & technology.

Improving our reach with diverse audiences

Evidence tells us that young children from all backgrounds ‘like’ science, and yet the UK STEM workforce remains unrepresentative of UK society at large. We believe passionately that STEM in the UK is for everyone, and there must be no barriers based on gender, ethnicity, social background, geography, or any other factor.

We will work with experienced partners to ensure an increased proportion of our activities reach families and young children with low ‘science capital’ to show that science and technology are ‘for them’ – exhilarating and collaborative, relevant and rewarding.

We are focusing on this approach through the Wonder Initiative which will prioritise participation with public engagement for communities facing socioeconomic challenges.

Over the current strategy period, we will achieve success by:

  • working with appropriate partners to increase the proportion of our activities that reach low science capital audiences
  • ensuring a greater proportion of our activities are tailored for young children in late primary school and early secondary school
  • improving the geographic coverage of STFC engagement across the UK, increasing our reach into areas of the country that are otherwise remote from substantial STEM activities.

Delivering high quality public engagement activities and outcomes

For STFC, delivering the highest-quality public engagement is vital, and is how we maximise the likelihood of positive impacts from our programme.

We are continually improving our own focus on audience understanding, planning, delivery, evaluation, and sustainability of engagement activities. We will lead our community and partners in doing the same.

We are proud of the sustained impact our community has achieved. We will continue to support new approaches that remain ambitious, cross-disciplinary, and collaborative while being based on a foundation of sound planning and evaluation.

Over the current strategy period, we will achieve success by:

  • supporting an exciting and diverse portfolio of ambitious and professional public engagement approaches by our own staff and the wider STFC community
  • leading the STFC community in what constitutes high quality public engagement, and demonstrate and share best practice when identified
  • inspiring people by using engagement to highlight the diversity of routes into UK STEM careers.

Annual delivery plans

Every year, our public engagement team is working on many different activities that are all addressing the aims of our strategy.

You can read the annual delivery plan reports from previous years on the UK Government Web Archive.

Last updated: 31 March 2022

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