Birkbeck public engagement awards

This year, Birkbeck is holding its inaugural Public Engagement Awards. Building on the College’s tradition of socially engaged research and its historical mission to engage with a wide and diverse range of people outside of academia, the Birkbeck Public Engagement Awards will recognise and celebrate those researchers who have undertaken innovative and exemplary public engagement activities.

Applications have now opened and entrants can be at any level in their career. Public engagement activities on any scale are welcome.

Deadline for entries: 29 January 2018 

Birkbeck public engagement awards - outline and aims

  • At Birkbeck, our public engagement activities encompass the widest possible variety of engagement pursuits and aim to support and build research excellence, foster community and engage with diverse audiences, as well as provide access to education through collaborations with businesses, community groups, cultural organisations and a range of other external partners.
  • Building on this tradition of socially engaged research and engagement with a wide,  diverse range of people outside of academia, this year we will recognise and celebrate the myriad ways that Birkbeck scholars work to make higher education and research accessible to the public.
  • The Birkbeck Public Engagement Awards aim to:
    • celebrate and make visible the diverse and wide range of public engagement activities at Birkbeck
    • recognise and reward those researchers who have undertaken innovative and exemplary public engagement activities
    • support the culture of public engagement at Birkbeck by bringing together researchers from across the College to celebrate existing work and inspire new connections.
  • The awards process is coordinated by the Public Engagement Team, with support from colleagues from across External Relations, as well as from the Public Engagement and Research Impact (PERI) Committee. The process is overseen by the College’s Academic Advocate for Public Engagement, Professor Miriam Zukas.

Award categories

  • Applications for the 2017-2018 awards are now open and we are accepting applications in the following categories:
    • Early Career Award for public engagement work undertaken by doctoral students or early career researchers (ie postdocs in their first two years in post)
    • Communicating Research for excellence in communicating research projects and ideas through stimulating or innovative activities
    • Collaboration for engagement based on an active collaboration and a two-way relationship with an external partner(s)
    • Engaged Practice for research that has participation and involvement of publics as a core approach to the creation of research
    • Transforming Culture or Public Life for research engagement activities that aim to stimulate change within our culture and society.

How to apply


  • Why do you use the term ‘publics’?
    • We use the term ‘publics’ to communicate that there is not one homogenous, non-academic ‘general public’. There are diverse publics and we’d like to encourage applicants to think more specifically about the people they have engaged.
  • Are there types of projects or work you won’t accept?
    • While we encourage applications that reflect the broad range of public engagement activity and engaged practice that occurs at Birkbeck, there are a few types of work we are unable to accept:
      • widening participation initiatives or work that is directly intended to recruit students to Birkbeck
      • ‘publicly available’ activities, such as conferences, talks or lectures that are open to the public but primarily for academics. This is distinct from public events that have been designed for a particular non-academic audience, rather than simply opened up to them
      • publicity activities that are centred around the public promotion of academic research. For example, through public lectures, launch event or media work that specifically and only aims to promote a monograph, journal article or research finding
      • public engagement for the purposes of these awards is characterised as having been informed by Birkbeck research.
  • How can smaller activities complete with large, high-profile projects?
    • We recognise that some projects will be bigger, higher profile and much better resourced than others, but we are committed to ensuring that all projects, irrespective of size, are given fair consideration. We’ve therefore asked the awarding committee to evaluate the projects and their outcomes by what they have achieved relative to the resources available.
  • What if my public engagement activities fall into more than one category?
    • Some projects may fit the remit of more than one category. If this is the case and you would like advice on the most suitable category for your application, please feel free to contact us. Otherwise, please choose the category you feel is the best fit and if the awarding committee deems your project more appropriate for a different category, we will contact you about switching it.
  • Why do you ask for a lead applicant? How can I acknowledge the contribution of other team members or collaborators?
    • We ask you to identify one lead applicant or, if necessary, two co-lead applicants, in order to simplify the application process and our communications with you. We would, however, encourage you to include details of your fellow team members and external collaborators or public contributors, where applicable. Space for this has been included on the application form.

Awards ceremony

  • Winning projects, along with shortlisted entries, will be showcased and celebrated by the Master, colleagues from across the College and external partners at the Birkbeck Public Engagement Awards Ceremony on 14 March 2018.
  • Shortlisted applicants will receive invitations to the awards ceremony in early February.

Contact us

  • If you have any questions about the application form or the application process more generally, please contact the Public Engagement Team for guidance: