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The University of Southampton
Public Engagement with Research

Public Engagement with Research Development Projects 2015

Building on the success of the 2014/15 projects, and with a slightly increased funding pot, we were delighted to fund 11 of the 32 high quality bids received within our 2015/16 PER Development Funding Call.  You can see an overview of each project in the drop-down sections below - the majority are now completed, and more detailed write-ups will be available here soon.  

Several of the project leads gave presentations about their work to the Public Engagement Network in November 2016, and you can see their slides/videos via the links below.  In a number of instances, the PER Development Funding awards have helped to secure further funding to extend the work/research. 

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Slavery and Atlantic Crossings

How do we make sense of slavery?  How can we represent its legacies?  Routinely, as scholars, we try to do those things through the acts of writing and speaking, all via strict ritualised channels of communication.  But how could the work of bearing witness to the part-hidden histories of enslavement, forced movement, suffering and renewal be transformed by other modes of performance?  Mixing the writing and speaking of a historian with other types of sound and movement, we are working towards opening up new ways of confronting and feeling a past that continues to groan and shift, restlessly in our present.

Project Lead: Christer Petley, Faculty of Humanities,


Between the Barrows

The intention is to understand the impact of a community archaeology programme, which will culminate in a two week community dig in May 2016, on two currently juxtaposed but separated communities: the village of Enham Alamein and a new housing development in Knights Enham in Andover.  The excavation, to be managed by PhD students and postdoctoral researchers from Southampton, will create opportunities for schools and local volunteers to work on site alongside an award winning local community partnership and stimulate the development of ongoing relationships and further community heritage projects between the two communities and beyond.

Project lead: Chris Elmer,  Faculty of Humanities,

The Voyage Out - life on board East India Company Ships

The East India Company (EIC) was at the heart of Britain’s economy and society but is also a major part of our shared global history.  The project aims to research life on board EIC ships.  We will be working with the British Library and a voluntary groups to investigate an under-researched aspect of the EIC.  We aim to illuminate life on board EIC ships by holding public engagement events - such as readings by professional actors based on diaries.  The movement of people on these ships laid the foundations of Britain’s diverse society.

Project Lead: Helen Paul, Faculty of Social and Human Sciences,

Community History Learning Project

We will share existing and new research on the impact of WW1 on the local area through a learning programme of events and resources created around the centenary of the death of local resident Richard Willis Fleming (04/08/2016).  Working in partnership with Radian Housing Association, students and academics from the Faculty of Humanities will aim to encourage social aspiration and reduce social isolation in the Solent area.  This will be achieved through engaging local residents of all age groups in the process of disseminating research about the role the Swaythling area played in the Great War, encouraging them to participate in creating resources and organising events.

Project Lead: Eleanor Quince, Faculty of Humanities,

Biodiversity Research Zebra

Biodiversity is essential for everyday life, providing food and promoting wellbeing, but is often misunderstood by the public. In summer 2016 we will take our biodiversity research into a city centre park, where a sponsored Marwell Wildlife Zany Zebra sculpture will be visited by hundreds of thousands of people. The sculpture will provide a focus point for public engagement events, building on the success of previous BioBlitzes and include: the 2016 BioBlitz, nature walks, talks, and craft activities for children.  We will engage the public with biodiversity research, including our MRes Wildlife Conservation in collaboration with Marwell Wildlife.

Project Lead: Judith Lock, Faculty of Natural & Environmental Sciences,

Quantum Music

Counter-intuitive features of the quantum world, like the Schrödinger cat paradox, are notoriously difficult to convey to lay-people.  Images of boxes containing two cats, one alive and one dead, often used in outreach material, fail to convey the right gut feeling, because for physical and physiological reasons, we can fix our visual attention on a single point at time.  This project aims to use musical compositions instead than images to better explain quantum mechanics to lay people, exploiting the fact that we can hear multiple sounds at the same time, like multiple instruments in a symphony.

Project Lead: Simone De Liberato, Faculty of Physical Sciences and the Environment,

The Wellbeing Sanctuary: the development of re-usable interactive tools to support physical and mental wellbeing


We will create a series of re-usable interactive activities to support mental wellbeing, including:

1. Understanding the physiological effects of stress on the body

2. A flowchart to show how stress can be managed in healthier ways

3. Demos of our digital self-management programmes

4. A tent (or ‘sanctuary’) within which to try out mindfulness-based exercises

 All activities will provide accessible information based on research within the Centre for Applications of Health Psychology. These activities will build on our existing activities focused on physical well-being (e.g. diet and physical activity) to highlight inter-connected.

Project Leads: Rebecca Band & Leanne Morrison, Faculty of Social & Human Sciences,


Beating Infections without Jargon

The public have a huge role to play in combatting AntiMicrobial Resistance.  If unchecked, AMR will kill more people than cancer by 2050, and cost the global economy more than the current size of the global economy.  However, its interdisciplinary nature means that AMR researchers in one discipline often fail to communicate effectively with researchers in other disciplines.  The proposed project will train AMR academics and researchers to communicate effectively, both across disciplines and with the general public.  Participants will also contribute to a public exhibition on AMR.  This is supported by £15k EPSRC funding for materials to build exhibits.

Project Lead: Craig Dolder, Faculty of Engineering and the Environment,

The Breastfeeding Dilemma

This project brings together academics, policy makers, medical professionals, parental support organisations, members of the media, mothers and members of the public to address the Breastfeeding Dilemma: how do we encourage breastfeeding and support women in doing so, without subjecting those who choose not to breastfeed, or are unable to do so, to shame and guilt with potentially devastating consequences? We explore philosophical mistakes in the way we talk and think about infant feeding choices and the impact pressure to breastfeed can have on maternal health and the experience of new motherhood.

Project Lead: Fiona Woollard, Faculty of Humanities,

Fidel the Musical

This project involves the public in developing a musical about Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution. Music students across the UK have entered a free competition to write songs for the musical and the winning songs get to be in the musical. About 300 schools/colleges have signed up. The public are involved in judging the song and we plan to hold an X-factor type event pencilled in for the Turner Sims on 13th January to choose the finalists. The musical is then workshopped using local students and a mini performance given at a local school/college mid- July.

Project Lead: Denise Baden, Faculty of Business, Law and Art,

Wearable Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Devise for Stroke Rehabilitation

Stroke is a leading cause of complex disability. Every year 150,000 strokes occur in the UK. 75% of survivors lose the ability to perform everyday tasks with their arms, affecting their independence. The UK societal cost of stroke is £9 billion per year. We are developing a state-of-the-art comfortable, easy to use and unobtrusive fabric based wearable Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) device for home-based upper limb rehabilitation. In this project, we will engage with stakeholders (e.g. stroke survivors and their carers, companies, NHS) and the lay public to promote the technology, to raise awareness of the challenges faced by people who have had a stroke in their lives, and to ensure our research provides maximum societal benefit.

Project Lead: Kai Yang, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering,

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