Public Engagement as Method in the Arts and Humanities

Arts Enterprise, at the University of Sheffield Faculty of Arts and Humanities is hosted a symposium on Public Engagement as Method in July 2016. It was based on the premise that the academy has not yet generated an epistimology and definition of research that explains how the experiential, embodied, communal and dispersed nature of knowledge changes the role of the researcher.

We aimed is to think about some of these issues and invited provocations from a wide range of academics and professionals to start these conversations. These were themed under the following headings: Artistic Practice, Theories of Public Engagement, the Boundaries of the Academic Role and a session of case studies of public engagement as method.  Each provocation aimed to stimulated discussion amongst delegates and the day turned out to be interactive and lively with plenty of discussion. The programme for the day can be found via the link on the right. 

Key ideas discussed included those of academic identity and interdisciplinarity. We talked extensively about how we inhabit and intellectual space for public engagement, in the same way that academic disciplines have their own intellectual space. There is still more to be said about framing an intellectual debate around public engagement and the notion of the externally engaged academic, as well as dismantling the boundaries between disciplines. 

What Next?

Conversations are continuing at Sheffield on these topics, as we hope they are at other institutions. Michael Eades, from the School of Advanced Study, University of London and one of our presenters, wrote this blog after the event in July. We are mindful of the need to keep the existing network of interested parties going as well as open up these conversations to other interested people. There may be an opportunity at the Engage Conference 2016 to expand these initial conversations and we have ambitions to build towards an AHRC Research Network or similar to continue this work. It's likely that there will be another symposium to follow up the initial conversations in the 2016/17 session. 

If you would like to be part of this conversation, have anything to add to the above or kept informed of developments, please get in touch with Amy Ryall, External Engagement Projects Manager, Faculty of Arts and Humanities - a.ryall@sheffield.ac.uk 

Archaeology walk of the Redmires trench system