To date the Creating Publics project has given rise to three main findings about public engagement with research:
1. Public engagement with research is as much about inter-personal relationships and forms of collaboration (conversation, participation, building collectivities and identifications) and prototyping practices (specifying areas for experimentation, demonstration, pre-figuration and generating openings for reflection and learning) as it is about aurality, writing, staged ‘public debates’ or modes of publicity (telling, blogging, staging public or academic events, presentations, articles, ‘marketing’).
2. Public engagement with research is about acknowledging the specificities of particular contexts of research practice. And, how different contexts demand tailored and flexible approaches to interpersonal relationship building, collaboration and prototyping as well as aurality, writing and publicity.
3. Openings for innovation in this area arise at the intersections between processes of theoretical and empirical research, processes and practices of prototyping and experimentation and processes of inter-personal collaboration and conversation.
So what are the consequences of these initial ‘findings’ for current debates about public engagement? One consequence is that it is likely to be counterproductive to aim for a single theory, model, culture or technology of ‘public engagement’ that can be applied across diverse contexts of research practice. Instead, the Creating Publics project points to the need for an ‘intersectional’ approach to public creation that is engaged with and tuned into to the specificities of different contexts of research/practice.
Given how many current debates about public engagement with research are focused on the strengths and weaknesses of particular engagement techniques, the challenge for Creating Publics is to more clearly articulate both the potential benefits and qualities as well as the politics of an ‘intersectional’ approach.
To meet this challenge the Creating Publics project will continue in the following way:
– It will begin to ‘write-up’ the two public creation ‘pilots’ that it is currently undertaking in collaboration with two research teams based in CCIG;
– Highlights of these write-ups and some of the basic qualities of the ‘intersectional’ approach emerging from this work will be fed back as part of the discussions that will convened at the two remaining 2012 Creating Publics keynote lecture events (May 16 and June 28);
– The results of these discussions will be reported back and reflected on here on the Creating Publics blog;
– The ‘intersectional’ approach that is currently being generated by the Creating Publics project will be further elaborated with this including an initial assessment of the barriers to scaling-up this approach. This write-up will be drafted as a journal article that will relate the Creating Publics ‘intersectional’ approach to other pre-existing and emerging contemporary approaches to and key debates about public engagement with research.