Beltane is a brand which denotes activities that support innovative, high quality public engagement with research at the four universities in Edinburgh.
Physically, Beltane has two dedicated staff who are currently based on Holyrood Road, Edinburgh (in the Institute for Academic Development). These two staff act as shepherds, making sure that things happen. The suite of work delivered under the Beltane brand is much larger than just these two jobs, involving all sorts of stakeholders:
- Researchers from all of Edinburgh’s universities (and beyond)
- University students
- Public engagement support staff in universities
- University management
- Beltane Fellows
- Associates from outside Edinburgh’s universities (e.g. the Scottish Parliament, the NHS, the National Museum of Scotland, the Edinburgh Fringe)
- Members of the public
For this reason, the project is described as the Beltane Public Engagement Network.
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.
What we are trying to achieve
Since it began in 2008, the purpose of the Beltane project 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 the project’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