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The University of Southampton
Public Engagement with Research

Public Engagement Development Awards 2020/21

We are delighted to have agreed funding for the following exciting engagement projects, which will run during 2020/21 - open up the concertina sections to find out more about each one.

Stories from Home

Stories from Home is a community engagement project where young people from across Southampton are the authors, composers and makers of a new story for the city. Working with Dr. Aiysha Jahan, Liam Gifford and music specialists, the young people will create a story that shares their journey to and/or within our city. This story will then be presented in two forms: a recorded audio play and a site-specific performance on Above Bar Street at the Human Worlds 2021 Festival.

Project Lead: Dr Aiysha Jahan, Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Developing meaningful language with and for the public to maximise improvements in preconception health

'Preconception health' refers to health-related factors among women and men that may affect a future pregnancy and baby. The term is currently poorly understood by the general public, which is a fundamental barrier for translating compelling evidence on its importance into relevant and effective public health interventions and campaigns. To identify meaningful language options to communicate with the public about preconception health, this project aims to engage the public in small group discussions and a citizen science activity to capture ideas on alternative language they feel is more appropriate, relevant and meaningful to them.

Project Lead: Dr Danielle Schoenaker, Faculty of Medicine

Playing in the Past

Playing in the Past is an engagement project designed to connect academic research on past cultures with modern audiences. The Assassin’s Creed game franchise has created detailed and accurate visualisations of the past that can be experienced by users in a way that cannot be achieved with museum exhibitions or talks. This project will use the games as a tool to immerse audiences in these past places, providing virtual tours for an online audience where they can explore the past with academics and researchers. We will initially focus on Origins set in ancient Egypt during the very end of the Ptolemaic era (48-46 BC).

The purpose for this engagement of the public in a scholar-led tour of a digitally-recreated ancient Egypt is multi-layered. First, we want to interest more people in the history of ancient Egypt. We hope to show them that it is a real and complex, but knowable world. Second, we want to demonstrate to the interested general public that scholars of ancient Egypt are a diverse group who are passionate about sharing ancient Egyptian history with everyone. They, and their knowledge and research, is accessible. Third, we want to highlight the ways in which ancient Egypt is often portrayed and how all of the past engagements with the subject build upon and influence each other. Assassin’s Creed: Origins brought together scholarly research on Egypt as well as took ideas from other forms of engagement with Egypt, like film and literature. Academic and non-academic interpretations of the subject alike inform and influence our understanding of ancient Egypt. This is a topic that still needs greater investigation and to be brought to a much wider audience. PITP aims to contribute to this through showing people an ancient world they will recognise, in an environment where they can ask questions and explore it with experts. 

Project Lead: Gemma Renshaw, Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Good care for me is ...

In our project we will co-create a film resource about the care experiences and preferences of people with learning disabilities, dementia and stroke. People with learning disabilities, dementia and stroke and their carers will be supported to create short films about themselves, their care preferences and how healthcare professionals should support them. These films will be used to teach health professional students at the University of Southampton, in campaigning and training by local advocacy organisations and in future research (if funded) to co-design and pilot a healthcare intervention to improve care for people with learning disabilities, dementia or stroke.

Project Lead: Dr Jo Hope, Faculty of Environmental & Life Sciences

Health Data Selfies: What is your data being used for?

This project demonstrates how large volumes of health data are now routinely produced in daily life, and explores what people think about the data being accessed and utilised in a variety of different ways. Masses of health data are generated through everyday activities, from accessing health services to using wearable technologies and health tracking apps. Great hopes and expectations about how this might help us understand and improve human health run alongside concerns about inappropriate and irresponsible applications. Our interactive activity explores what public audiences think about if, how, by whom, and for what purposes this data should be used.

Through the project we will be exploring the challenges of continuing public engagement in the context of the COVID19 pandemic, and looking at how we can develop appropriate methods of engagement to reach diverse audiences that don’t just rely on online methods.  We aim to use our findings to inform future engagement activities around health data.

Project Lead: Kate Lyle, Faculty of Medicine


We want to engage children in neuroscience research, in particular neuroimaging research. We will create a range of collaborative educational activities for and with primary schools and pupils; for example, bitesize videos and interactive workshops on the brain. The overall aim is to teach children about the brain and common neurodevelopmental disorders, thereby reducing stigma towards children with these conditions, and to stimulate children’s interest in engaging with neuroscience research.

This is a partnership between the Centre for Innovation in Mental Health (CIMH), School of Psychology, and Paediatric Neurosciences (Paediatric Neuroscience Group (PNG), Clinical and Experimental Sciences) Faculty of Medicine.

Project Padlet site: Padlet:

Project Lead: Rina Cianfaglione - Faculty of Medicine

Managing Seaweed through More than Maps

A co-development project that fosters transferable skills for college students and young professionals (16-30yrs). A workshop will explore seaweed management as a case study of climate change adaptation, through (1) teaching basic coding skills using open source software, and (2) analysis of social science datasets in adaptation. Using seaweed as a unique example, the workshop will increase participants’ understanding of the value of social sciences data, introduce them to Google Earth Engine as a geospatial analysis tool, and develop climate change adaptation skills; staff will increase their internal and external networks, and co-development and skills-transfer knowledge.

Projec Lead: Sien Van der Plank, Faculty of Environmental & Life Sciences

Developing approaches for site-responsive composition

The project is a two-day workshop developing approaches to site-responsive composition, exploring music’s relationship with the acoustic in which it is performed, and the choreographic implications of spatialising sound in live performance, leading to a showing where the invited audience can freely explore, over 30-minutes and three floors, the immersive, emotional experience of music moving around acoustic space.

 A partnership with Ensemble Plus Minus, Tim Hand (audio), and curatorial staff at John Hansard Gallery, the work draws on scholarship from a range of fields, including acoustics, affective aesthetics, and aural architecture, as well as theatre-, choreography- and studio-based creative practice.

Project Lead: Drew Crawford, Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Engaging the public in urban noise issues through the sonification of big data

The BigEARS project has been recording sound clips of urban noise in people’s gardens in Southampton throughout the COVID19 lockdown. The sound clips are a rich source of information, varying both geographically and through time, but it is challenging to make this content accessible to the general public.

The purpose of this innovative, cross-disciplinary project is to use data sonification – essentially making music from data – as a way to start conversations with the public about our research and the health risks of urban noise, a major environmental issue across Europe. We will select noise recordings made at different times during the pandemic and “sonify” them to create music using a fixed rule base. Any changes in the acoustic environment of the city should then be apparent by listening to how the music varies. This will allow people of all ages and backgrounds to experience the recovery from the lockdown in a novel way.

Project Lead: Tatiana Alvares-Sanches, Faculty of Environmental & Life Sciences


Unsurprisingly some of last year's projects were impeded by the COVID19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions.  In light of these exceptional circumstances, we have been able to allocate some modest additional funding to enable them to complete their activities this year.

The projects supported to continue from last year are:

Population risk stratification & intervention to prevent childhood obesity - led by Grace Grove, Faculty of Medicine

Bad Music at Edinburgh Fringe - led by Matthew Schlomowitz, Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Cultivate! - led by Lucy Green, Faculty of Medicine

(Project info can be found on our 2019/20 projects page.)

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