Public engagement: Wonder Initiative


Wonder Initiative phase 2: 2023 to 2028

Based on the success of the Wonder initiative phase 1, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is looking to fully embed Wonder into our public engagement programme. As part of the public engagement strategy (2024 to 2028), this phase of Wonder has three aims:

  • for audiences
  • for project partners
  • for good practice


We aim to ensure a minimum of 40% of our audiences are from the 40% most socioeconomically deprived areas in the UK.

This aligns with the STFC strategic delivery plan objective to “prioritise our Wonder initiative of public engagement activities … aiming for at least 40% participation in our engagement programme from these groups.”

We monitor the level of Wonder engagement across all of our public engagement, using the indices of multiple deprivation (IMD) as a reference. There are some challenges in collecting and using this data and we are open to partners using different metrics where appropriate.

Working meaningfully with Wonder audiences takes time and can reduce the number of people we work with. We consider this to be an acceptable outcome, particularly where we are taking time to design activities together.

We continue to report on the number of Wonder audience members we reach, and what percentage this is of our total audience. We will also evaluate our impact on Wonder communities using our public engagement evaluation framework.

What we are doing

  1. We are continuing to prioritise Wonder-themed proposals in public engagement grant assessments.
  2. We are setting targets for Wonder reach at each of the UK National Lab sites which reflect the demographics of their local communities.
  3. We are reviewing National Labs Public Engagement (NLPE) and grant holder guidance to clarify expectations for Wonder reporting, reach and monitoring.
  4. We are developing partnerships with organisations that engage with Wonder communities, particularly in areas where we currently have low levels of engagement.

Project partners

We aim to work collaboratively with partners, organisations and Wonder communities to develop high-quality public engagement.

We encourage our public engagement teams and grant holders to be responsive to community priorities. They should listen to and adapt to communities, allowing them to influence projects. To do this we encourage coproduction and co-creation of projects with Wonder community partners. We are also open to other types of engagement where appropriate.

We are developing community links and will provide support to bring researchers and communities together. We also offer funding to enable long-lasting collaboration and partnerships.

We support our partners to evaluate, monitor and report on the impact of their work with Wonder communities and on themselves. We encourage learning from both successes and challenges, and from unexpected outcomes.

What we are doing

  1. We are identifying how we want to approach working with Wonder communities at each National Lab site and document this in the NLPE group plan.
  2. We are assessing the need for dedicated capacity and capability funding routes that would enable more effective Wonder delivery.
  3. We are developing a better understanding of an asset-based approach and share this with the wider grant holder community.
  4. We are updating the Wonder toolkit to align with the new evaluation framework to be published in 2025.
  5. We are feeding back on the evaluation data partners send us and sharing our feedback with them.
  6. We are scoping the commissioning of a multi-year evaluation project to look at the impact of public engagement on Wonder audiences.

Good practice

We aim to support STFC and partners to develop and share good practice with and from Wonder projects. To do this, we are creating a space for open and honest conversations and reflections about Wonder projects. This will include NLPE, grant holders and community partners.

We also support our public engagement grant holders, staff and Wonder communities to further develop their skills in working together and to learn from each other.

What we are doing

  1. We are seeking out opportunities to share learnings at external conferences and events and encourage our partners to do as well.
  2. We are creating a strong online presence for Wonder both on UKRI webpages and on partner websites.
  3. We are hosting peer learning and reflection sessions every six months for public engagement grant holders, national partners, NLPE Group and community partners. We will seek to co-create this workshop with our partners and Wonder communities.
  4. We are offering skills-building sessions annually for public engagement grant holders.

Last updated: 12 December 2023

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