University of Nottingham awarded the Silver Engage Watermark

This prestigious national award awarded by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) recognises University of Nottingham's commitment to public engagement.

Institute team, posing with the NCCPE Silver Engage Watermark Award

On 6 December 2023, we were honoured with the prestigious Silver Engage Watermark by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE). This award not only validates our dedication to involving the public in our work but also reinforces the importance we place on driving impact through knowledge sharing, teaching, and research.

Our commitment to public engagement

Our work at the Institute revolves around connecting Nottingham's world-leading researchers with the public and policymakers to share insights and solve problems. We work with staff from across the university to ensure our outstanding research reaches relevant decision makers and address the needs of different communities at the local, national and international levels. During the assessment process all areas of public engagement at the university were explored; including staff and student volunteering, our work with school pupils, our civic engagement and how we listen and work with those with lived experience to strengthen research outputs.

This award is symbolic of our university's core values. It proudly reflects our ongoing commitment to engaging with the public and ensuring community collaboration is woven into the fabric of who we are and what we do. Our Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jane Norman, shares in this pride, stating, "this strengthens the value of our publicly funded research by ensuring it is informed by and addresses real-world experience, and offers students an opportunity to make a difference." 

This strengthens the value of our publicly funded research by ensuring it is informed by and addresses real-world experience, and offers students an opportunity to make a difference.
Professor Jane Norman, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Nottingham

Showcasing impactful initiatives

Over the past year, we have connected with over 22,000 individuals through events like the Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity, Science in the Park, Pint of Science, and Being Human. These experiences, along with our public arts centre, Lakeside Arts, and free-to-access public lectures, have been attended by over 110,000 people.

We teamed up with Nottingham City Council to introduce interactive talking street furniture such as lamp posts, benches and even bins to gather views on what climate change means to local people, and how sharing how they can get involved in Nottingham’s goal to become the UK’s first carbon neutral city.

As part of the regeneration of Nottingham’s Broadmarsh – currently one of the largest city centre redevelopment projects in Europe – the university’s archaeologists and historians are partners in the City of Caves project, which aims to make Nottingham’s underground caves network a signature feature of the new development, boosting the local economy and celebrating the area’s heritage.

Heart and stem cell researchers from the university’s Biodiscovery Institute have taken their research into the community, working with artists, schools and primary schools to connect science, health, art and learning in innovative ways.

Engagement between researchers at the School of Medicine and the public inform clinical trials of new treatments, such as the National Institute for Health Research-funded Rapid Eczema Trials. The Nottingham Support Group for Carers of Children with Eczema helps design the trials by sharing the experience of children living with the condition.

Recognition and community impact

Our dedication to community engagement and impact has also been recognised by this award. Paul Manners, co-director of the NCCPE, applauded our progress and the commitment of our staff, acknowledging our commitment to public involvement across numerous disciplines.

Local councils and organisations are key partners in this process. We were delighted that Councillor David Mellen, Leader of Nottingham City Council, took time to celebrate the award and be part of our acceptance video. Our role as an anchor institution in the city and region is incredibly important to us and only through mutually beneficial partnerships can we achieve our goals for local prosperity.

The Silver Engage Watermark not only recognises our achievements but also emphasises the value of sharing expertise for the greater good.


Looking ahead

When Stephen Meek, Director of the Institute for Policy and Engagement, spoke at our celebration event, he made it clear that the Silver Engage Watermark is both recognition and an opportunity. It serves as a focal point for our efforts and a guide for future plans as we continue to expand upon our achievements.

Our new Castle Meadow Campus, for example, provides a hub for innovation, and collaboration fostering entrepreneurship and economic progress. Initiatives like City as Lab connect researchers, communities, and partners to tackle real-world challenges.

Receiving the Silver Engage Watermark isn't just an achievement for us; it's a reflection of our commitment to creating a positive societal impact. As we continue to lead in public engagement, this recognition will undoubtedly inspire more innovative and impactful contributions in the years to come.

Join us in celebrating this remarkable achievement and stay tuned for more updates on our journey in public engagement. Follow us on Facebook, X (Twitter) and Instagram to be a part of our ongoing initiatives and collaborations, contributing to building stronger communities and inspiring positive change.

Article written by Maria Richards, Head of Public Engagement, and Iyanuoluwa Fatoba, Comms and Content Officer.

Please contact the Institute for Policy and Engagement with any further queries.