SHaME at ENGAGE ONLINE 2023
At this year’s annual NCCPE Engage Conference, SHaME Public Engagement Lead, Dr Rhea Sookdeosingh, presented sessions on ethical public engagement and the Shameless! Festival of Activism Against Sexual Violence.
Read on to find out more!
Can public engagement be truly ethical?
For the morning’s Provocation session, I asked ‘can public engagement be truly ethical?’ This provocation was aimed at starting a conversation about how we can do public engagement as ethically as possible. As community and civic engagement in particular gain more prominence, the need to be ethical in how we engage with communities, especially vulnerable ones, is critically important. There is already a lot of thinking around this in the sector, as well as resources, support and communities of practice. However, I think there are still questions to be asked at all levels – public engagement professionals, academics, and university leadership – about how ethical engagement practices are currently and what we can do to improve them and ensure we are working with external partners and audiences in ways that aren’t exploitative and don’t uphold or reinforce societal inequities. I had hoped to inspire a conversation about these issues and encourage participants to reflect on their own roles and projects, as well as how they could be drivers of change at an institutional and/or sectoral level.
This Padlet board captured the facilitated discussion, showing the range of barriers to ethical engagement delegates experience as well as our collective list of proposals.
Shameless! Festival of Activism Against Sexual Violence: Using activism, art and academic research to challenge social attitudes to sexual violence and inspire action.
The Shameless! Festival of Activism Against Sexual Violence is a Wellcome Trust-funded public engagement initiative between SHaME and our partners, gender equality charity The WOW Foundation that uses activism, art and academic research to challenge harmful stereotypes about sexual violence in a way that inspires action, honours the multifaceted work of survivor-activists, and creates an atmosphere of joy and pleasure despite the gravity of the topic.
Delegates were invited to join my virtual carnival stall to find out how we co-produced the festival to be inclusive, ethical and empowering to audiences, contributors and colleagues alike. I used a series of simple prompts alongside a short presentation to walk delegates through our approach to safeguarding and programming the festival. I began and ended the session by asking ‘would you attend a festival about sexual violence’. I’m happy to report that after learning about the festival, attendees overwhelmingly agreed they would attend a Shameless! Festival, despite initial hesitation.
[I] really valued the opportunity to hear about the Shameless Festival and great practice in thinking through safeguarding and upskilling staff to create an event with care at the heart- and it looked really fun!
This Padlet board captured responses to a series of short questions designed to engage delegates in how the Shameless! Festival was created and highlight how an event tackling a serious topic like sexual violence could be empowering as well as joyful.
Engage Online 2023 took place on 06 December 2023 on the theme of ‘changing practices’. The day was bookended with plenary sessions on ‘Developing place-based practice’ and ‘Futures of engaged research’. The intervening sessions featured contributions from public engagement professionals, academics, lived experience experts and others showcasing engaged research best practice. The morning session offered a range of provocations aimed at challenging public engagement practice and encouraging collective action on a range of different issues. The afternoon’s Engage Carnival featured several carnival stalls showcasing innovative public engagement projects with delegates invited to visit three different stalls for fifteen minute presentations.
Engage is the annual conference put on by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), the UK’s national body supporting public engagement in the higher education sector.
You can find out more about the Engage Online 2023 Programme here.