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New film celebrates 10 years of Public Engagement at Birkbeck

The film features examples of leading public engagement projects and reflections by Birkbeck academics.

Professor Sanjib Bhakta's award-winning public engagement project, ‘Joi Hok’

A new film that showcases how Birkbeck academics work with the public to make their research accessible has been released to celebrate 10 years of public engagement at Birkbeck.  

Members of the College community and the general public attended the premiere of the film in a virtual Birkbeck Inspires event last week. The premiere was followed by a discussion about public engagement with five academics who featured in the video, led by Professor Julian Swann, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Professor of History.  

Professor Sanjib Bhakta, Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Biochemistry, who featured in the film, said: Public engagement involves meaningful and mutually beneficial interactions among academic leaders, students, policy makers, collaborative partners and the public in our society. It is important that results of our research are communicated in a manner that is fully understandable and from which public can draw the appropriate conclusions. Measuring the outcome of this public engagement is thus impactful and vital to the dynamic progress of the academic world.  

In our award-winning public engagement project, Joi Hok, we used creative tools including local folk-art and music to encourage children to engage, learn and discuss the issue of antibiotic resistance in the context of Tuberculosis. We have already seen the subsequent transfer of knowledge from children to household members, which has led to an increased awareness of the disease in local communities and has encouraged more patients to adhere to prescribed medication.  

Professor Annie E. Coombes, Founding Director of Birkbeck’s Peltz Gallery, added: “I always conceived the Peltz Gallery as an experimental research tool, facilitating collaborations with artists to develop interdisciplinary dialogue and an interface between the research being conducted in the School of Arts and a wide public." 

The College’s long tradition of public engagement in its research is celebrated annually in the Birkbeck Public Engagement Awards. The awards recognise and celebrate researchers undertaking innovative and exemplary public engagement activities, and applications will be open soon for the 2022 awards. 

The Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund (ISSF) (204770/Z/16/Z) sponsored the film and the Wellcome Trust sponsored several of the public engagement projects featured in the film. Additionally, the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Strategic Support toExpedite Embedding Public Engagement with Research (SEE-PER)award (EP/R019649/1) further developed the College’s Public Engagement work 

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