SSPC actively fosters a culture of inclusivity and equity of sharing across all domains, including Education and Public Engagement (EPE). This whole-centre approach facilitates on-going and effective participation of researchers in the SSPC EPE Programmes. Driving this ethos are the SSPC Director, PIs, FIs, Education Training and Outreach (ETO) Officer and management team, instilling an expectation in all members of the SSPC community to contribute to the various facets of the centre.
To this end, various EPE activities initiate a chain of crucial impacts for the wider community such as societal, economic, human capacity, international engagement, policy and public service, and professional services, to name a few. The objectives set for the cohorts offer long-term value to all identified, and align with curricular aims, national goals and research-led best practice. Since 2013, the SSPC has run 286 EPE events to date, and has the following key strategic EPE programmes on a national and international platform.
See SSPC Core EPE Programme target audiences, objectives and challenges here
To achieve outreach objectives with target groups, the EPE Officer collaborates with teachers and scientists to create school-based outreach programmes and corresponding curricular materials. The SSPC’s EPE programmes incorporate customised, context-based activities for each stage of the Irish primary and post-primary educational systems. Additional programmes designed for third/fourth level students, industry, and the public play a role in the EPE strategy to promote engagement with the SSPC’s research, as well as creating a dialogue among participants about STEM, particularly in the area of chemistry and pharmaceutical manufacturing.
The Education and Outreach programme has firmly established itself through the co-ordination of national and international core projects (already mentioned above); but also get involved in many local events, outside of this remit. For example, a free scientific event called Pint of Science, bringing scientists to the local pub where they discuss their research with the public. A lunchtime talk for Active Ageing Week at the Hunt Museum, Limerick to enable older persons to become more informed about their medicine usage and indeed how simply crushing it can change how it works in body. Attendance at the National Ploughing Championships 2016 and BT Young Scientist in the SFI space. The EPE Officer, Dr Sarah Hayes, launched Science Week in 2015 and 2016 on RTE’s Late Late Show with Dara O’Briain and featured on the Ray D’Arcy Show.
Since 2013 over 80 SSPC, researchers have participated and aided in the delivery of almost 300 Public engagement events. The SSPC EPE programmes have leveraged over €675,209 for projects through both exchequer and non-exchequer funding. This level of international engagement is unprecedented among SFI funded research centres EPE programmes. This additional leveraged funding, has led SSPC to become the only SFI funded research centre to have successfully competed for Outreach and Public Engagement funding at an EU level. Additionally, the SSPC EPE officer received an invitation from Minister for Research and Innovation (John Halligan) to contribute to the EU Bratislava Declaration for Young Researchers, influencing the EU framework programme following Horizon 2020.
Through SSPC’s work with the FP7 Project TEMI, over 958 teachers have attended continuous professional development (CPD) across 9 countries in Europe. This has amounted to 58 cohorts of teachers receiving over 1371 hours of CPD at 183 workshops. Further work in the SSPC EPE space has led to direct engagement with over 100,000 people and indirect engagement with over 1.5 Million people (through media etc.). Not accounting for social media. The evaluation of SSPC EPE activities have been disseminated through a number of media channels. SSPC EPE research published as book chapters in two internationally renowned ISSI publications and as a journal paper in an ISSI journal.