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Creating and delivering engagement for a national, cross-institutional, multi-disciplinary research programme: Lessons for practitioners

posted on 2022-08-20, 20:06 authored by Rhian SalmonRhian Salmon, Joanna Goven
In this paper we reflect on our experience as members of a well-funded, well-integrated engagement programme within a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary climate-change research initiative: the Deep South National Science Challenge. After describing the goals, structure, and activities of the programme, we analyse the obstacles we faced, which we classify into two types: 1) definitional and process challenges, including both conflicting assumptions about the meaning of engagement and incompatible timelines of science and engagement; and 2) challenges of political and institutional context. From this we derive lessons for similarly placed practitioners. These include: - High-quality engagement requires a great deal of ‘invisible’ preparatory and maintenance work, including, but not limited to, education of colleagues and managers with little or no knowledge about engagement; - When those with little engagement expertise nonetheless have power over engagement-practitioner activities, education is vital but may not be sufficient to protect the integrity of the engagement effort; - Early work to establish explicit guidelines and processes for how engagement is overseen may (or may not) be protective; - The political and institutional context of the engagement programme will likely precipitate a power structure that shapes the challenges faced and the likelihood of overcoming them.


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