Last week a series of events forced me to think very carefully about how and why I am getting involved in engagement activities. (I should say that the jargonese ‘engagement’ just refers to the different way we can talk about, or show, science to a non-academic audience.) When the first challenge came along it pulled the rug from under my feet and I was for jacking all the blog and engagement stuff in, but one of the things I’ve learn’t over the last few months is about persistence, biting the teep and pushing through.
The finer details are not for blogging, but in the end I’ve ended up with almost a ‘mission statement’. Normally I don’t agree with these things, but it does act as a focus point for me personally in the sorts of activities I get involved in. My engagement statement is::
‘Proud about Science. Proud about Strathclyde. Proud about Cancer Research UK’
It will be interesting to see how the ‘proud’ word sits with people. Pride is an emotion: promoting, engagement, demonstrating, teaching and knowledge exchange are all activities. This statement is heart not head, that’s why it seems uncomfortable.
So how does that emotion translate to a real effect? Well I needed to sort that out as well, and it’s turned out to be important. In my engagement activities I need to, as Carol Tager-Cowan said, ‘wear hats’. I need the support, encouragement and protection of my three ‘prides’ (or hats!) in my engagement statement, but in return they need to know how I will represent them. If I’m asked to get involved in an event, I need to know in advance what conditions I can operate under. So this unpacks itself as follows:
‘I intend to engage as a Strathclyde research scientist and represent my subject, Cancer Research UK and the University with pride, effectively, honestly and safely. I will not seek support and resources from the University or Cancer Research UK if they, as partners in my activities, cannot be clearly recognised and identified: whether this be in print, or spoken word, by being ‘badged’, or promoting internet and social media resources.’
So, we’ll see how well I can stick to the path these two statements set out for me?