Beltane Public Engagement Network

What is Beltane?

Beltane is an agreement by the four universities in Edinburgh to coordinate their approaches to public engagement with research. By being joined-up, the four universities can share best practice and opportunities. Having a recognisable point of contact also makes it easier for other organisations to work with Edinburgh’s universities – and to do so without seeming to favour one over the other.

The Beltane Network is not a members club. Simply by being part of a university in Edinburgh, you are part of the Network, and we would love to see you at our events!

We also do not have a list of external ‘preferred partners’: if you would like to exchange knowledge with researchers at one or more of Edinburgh’s universities, we will do our best to help, regardless of where you are from.

As of December 2017, the Beltane Network does not have dedicated staff to coordinate it. This reflects the fact that partnership between Edinburgh’s universities is now well-established, and that some of the partner universities now have their own dedicated public engagement staff.

What we are trying to achieve

Since it began in 2008 as an RCUK Beacon for Public Engagement, the purpose of the Beltane initiative has been to help embed a culture of doing high quality public engagement in its partner universities. Indicators of this happening include:

  • Researchers feel willing and able to engage
  • Researchers participating in public engagement have formed strong communities
  • Public engagement is supported, recognised, rewarded and valued in Higher Education Institutions
  • The public, policymakers and other stakeholders see public engagement as a Higher Education Institution role and expect/demand researcher involvement
  • Researchers receive a clear message from funders that public engagement is part of their role

Much positive change has happened since 2008, meaning the needs of all our different stakeholders have changed a great deal. Nevertheless, there is still work to be done towards achieving Beltane’s fundamental purpose.


The Beltane Network follows on from, and builds on, the work of the Edinburgh Beltane Beacon for Public Engagement project. The Beacons project which was one of  six UK Beacons for Public Engagement funded by Research Councils UK, the Funding Councils and the Wellcome Trust. The Beacons were established in 2008 to bridge the gap between researchers working at the cutting edge and the people their research will affect.

Inspired by the proximity of Holyrood, Beltane has, since its creation, had a theme of enabling access to research relevant to public policy. With a Scottish Parliament which prides itself on accessibility, the project is well-placed to support people when they engage with the research which affects devolved issues.

How we work

Beltane’s operating principles are based on the concept of Engaged Practice.

We strive to be, and encourage others to be:

  • Engaging, Interesting, Relevant, Responsive, and Reflective
  • Respectful, Collaborative and Supportive
  • Creative, Constructive and Innovative and
  • Trustworthy

Contact Us

The Beltane Public Engagement Network
The Institute for Academic Development
1 Morgan Lane, Edinburgh, EH8 8FP

Phone: 0131 650 4874/4875

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