Beltane Public Engagement Network

Opportunities Calendar

Engaging Session | Primary Engineer @ Heriot Watt University
May 2 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Engaging with schools is a well-established public engagement route. Highly impactful if done well, it faces several challenges, such as the short duration of projects, the limited reach and the sustainability of funding. Join us to meet Lise Mccaffrey, Director of the Primary Engineer programme for Scotland, to find out how Primary Engineer addresses some those obstacles. Primary Engineer are keen to work with both undergraduate and postgraduate science and engineering students, so join us to learn how you and/or your students could get involved in the work of Primary Engineer. Primary Engineer is a not-for-profit organisation supported by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Scottish Engineering, AMS Neve and Babcock International which aims to develop the skills and confidence in teachers first and then extend from this secure foundation. The programmes are whole-class focused, including learners of all abilities.

Save the Date! | Beltane Twilight on Engaged Teaching
May 8 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Beltane Breakfast | Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 @ Edinburgh Napier University (Craiglockhart Campus)
May 29 @ 8:30 am – 10:00 am

Beltane Breakfasts and Twilights are informal meetings where people from Edinburgh’s universities can come to find out more and share information about specific public engagement topics. At our May 2017 Beltane Breakfast, we’re looking at the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.

Information on travelling to Edinburgh Napier’s Craiglockhart Campus is available here.

Rough programme

8.30am Grab breakfast!

8.45am Guest speaker 1: Jeff Sanders, Dig It! 2017

8.55am Guest speaker 2: Susan Morrison, Previously…Scotland’s History Festival

9.05am 2-minute wonders [share your own plans for and/or interests in the Year of History…]

9.20am Group discussion session 1

9.40am Group discussion session 2

10.00am End

Engaging Session | Engaging via art @ Heriot Watt University
May 30 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm


Postponed from March 2017

This session is organised by Heriot-Watt Engage, but staff and research students from all of Edinburgh’s universities are welcome to attend.

If science can inspire art, can art inspire interest and learning about science? Join experts to explore how art can help scientists to engage and change society.

Facilitation Skills @ 1.18 Paterson's Land
Jun 5 @ 9:30 am – 5:00 pm

Do you need facilitation skills to do your job? Probably: good facilitation skills are critical to team working, collaborating with other teams and organisations, planning and holding meetings, and small group teaching.

If you’d like to improve the communication and inter-personal skills needed to facilitate well, this course may be for you!

Skills You’ll Develop

– Enabling everyone to speak openly about their views, interests and needs

– Thinking together to tackle difficult problems or get a job done

– Fostering creativity and realise the potential for ‘group intelligence’

– Handling dominant voices and ensure all participants are heard

– Working through conflict without confrontation

– Recognising different patterns of communication and encourage ‘authentic’ communication

Using your power as a facilitator constructively

Training Approach

Our training approach integrates some ‘theory’ with a lot of opportunities to practice. Specifically, we will:

– Introduce key concepts – about different forms of communication and styles of facilitation, and about collaboration

– Work on key skills and common challenges, giving you experience of some different techniques and approaches

– Make this relevant to your circumstances and needs, and encourage your reflective practice.

What this Course Does Not Cover

Facilitation involves two skill sets: thinking strategically (for planning and evaluation); and attending to communication and inter-personal dynamics in these critical conversations. This one-day course aims to build capacity in the latter skill set only.

While this course is extremely useful for people wishing to engage others with their research, this won;t be a specific focus on the day.


This course is intended for people who already do some facilitation and want the opportunity to reflect on and deepen their practice in this area. Postgraduate researchers, and others new to faciltation and dialogue, are encouraged to attend Public Engagement Beyond Public Lectures instead.

This course is strictly limited to 16 participants.


This course is free of charge to staff (academic, professional and support) from universities in Edinburgh. Individuals from other organisations are welcome to attend, but the cost is £95, payable here.

Your Trainers

Dr Wendy Faulkner is a freelance dialogue practitioner. Working largely with Oliver Escobar, she has trained some 300 people looking to build facilitation skills – for public engagement in research, community empowerment and collaboration with stakeholders. Wendy also designs and facilitates engagement processes for academic, public and third sector organisations.


Dr Oliver Escobar is Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh, and Co-Director of What Works Scotland, a large research programme to improve public services and policy innovation. His areas of research, teaching and practice are democracy, politics, policy, participation and collaboration. He coordinates the Citizen Participation Network, has trained and worked with hundreds of public engagement practitioners, and is involved in developing democratic innovations across various policy arenas in Scotland and beyond.

What Works Scotland:

Oliver’s blog:

Twitter: @OliverEscobar

Public Engagement Beyond Public Lectures! @ 1.18 Paterson's Land
Jun 6 @ 9:00 am – Jun 7 @ 5:00 pm

This session of the course is FREE to staff and students from universities in Edinburgh! Individuals from other organisations are welcome, but a charge applies.

dialogue-handbookTarget audience

  • Postgraduate research students
  • Staff (academic and professional) who are new to the principles of dialogic communication and facilitation

Open to all academic disciplines and members of any university, and to people working in other types of organisation.

Why take this course?

Researchers are now expected to do some form of public engagement – to interact with particular stakeholder groups and/or wider ‘publics’ – in order to to increase the impact of their research. The impact of public engagement is strongest when researchers talk with people rather than at them, and researchers are open to hearing what members of the public have to say. Come to this course to:

  • Get an introduction to the principles of two-way ‘dialogic’ communication
  • Build your skills in facilitating dialogic communication
  • Think strategically about how to design dialogic public engagement activities, including how to communicate with your research’s audience from the very start of your research project (instead of just telling them what you’ve done when it’s over)
  • Understand the difference between ‘dialogue’ (to increase understanding) and ‘deliberation’ (to come to a decision), and why both are needed
  • Develop the skills needed to reflect and improve upon your engagement practice and wider communication techniques long after the course has ended

Whether you’re planning to work with government, business, product and service end-users, or citizens, this course could help you make your engagement more effective. You’ll leave with a toolbox of skills that you can use in a range of different settings where two-way communication is beneficial, including (but not only) public engagement with research.

Feedback on the October 2015 session

 “Thank you for a wonderful course”

“Absolutely fantastic. Went above and beyond my expectations”

“I was impressed with how the content was delivered and pleased to learn that we would apply our learning as we went along”

“It was a welcoming environment where I felt confident and comfortable to learn”

“A brilliant starting point for public engagement”

“I came out knowing more about myself and how I communicate, and how to improve my communication”


This course is FREE for staff and students from universities in Edinburgh! This is a trial, and we may need to revert to charging if the no-show rate is high.

If you are not a member of staff or a student from a university in Edinburgh, the cost is £190. This includes lunch and refreshments on both days, and the course handbooks in hard copy.

Your trainers

Wendy Faulkner is passionate about people participating in decisions that affect them, and about the benefits of dialogue. New understandings and possibilities can emerge when people think and work together in a spirit of deep listening and learning, and where difference is respected. A former academic, she now works freelance designing and facilitating collaborative conversations, be they exploratory or deliberative, single events or staged processes.
 Her experience covers public engagement in research, community engagement, and collaboration with stakeholders. 
She has trained some 300 people in these areas, largely with Oliver Escobar, for the Edinburgh Beltane Network and other community and third sector bodies. Wendy has an enduring love of Scottish tweeds – hence her trading name Talking Tweed.


Oliver Escobar is Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh, and Co-Director of What Works Scotland, a large research programme to improve public services and policy innovation. His areas of research, teaching and practice are democracy, politics, policy, participation and collaboration. He is on the Board of Democratic Audit UK, Beltane Public Engagement Fellow, member of the Scottish Government’s Participatory Budgeting Reference Group, Director of ClimateXChange’s Citizens’ Juries, non-executive member of the Scottish Government’s Digital Communications Board, and advisor to DRILL –the world’s largest research programme led by disable people. He coordinates the Citizen Participation Network, has trained and worked with hundreds of public engagement practitioners, and is involved in developing democratic innovations across various policy arenas in Scotland and beyond. He has led or co-led over a dozen research projects. His most recent research focuses on the interface between citizen participation and social inequalities (e.g.

What Works Scotland:

Oliver’s blog:

Twitter: @OliverEscobar

Beltane Annual Gathering 2017 | Responding and Reusing | 9th June @ Chesser House
Jun 9 @ 10:00 am – 8:00 pm

Chesser House ((c) Savills)

We’re thrilled that our annual celebration of public engagement will take place at one of Edinburgh’s newest bookable spaces: Chesser House on Gorgie Road.

Previously one of the homes of the City of Edinburgh Council, Chesser House is now being developed into affordable accommodation for artists and community groups by art’s complex.

The art’s complex team was also behind the original redevelopment of St Margaret’s House on London Road. Organisations already in Chesser House include InSpire Crafts Edinburg and Re-Act Scotland.

Chesser House is not beautiful, and it is definitely not a fully-equipped events venue. We’re acting on your feedback from the 2016 Annual Gathering, in which it was clear that some of you wanted to see us creating a more exciting, novel and energetic event. By choosing Chesser House, our temporary environment will force us to be nimble and innovative! And this is the inspiration for the theme for the 2017 Gathering: “Responding and Reusing”.

The other feedback we’ll be doing best to address in our event planning includes:

  • Giving you plenty of unstructured time to chat with existing as well as new contacts
  • Having engagement beyond universities in action as part of the event (while still also having space for internally-focussed conversations)
  • Cutting way down on the plenary speakers
  • Having more space in which to move around
  • Clear programme in advance
  • A stronger Edinburgh focus
  • A longer event (with no obligation to stay for all of it)
  • A wee drink…


Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas Bootcamp 3
Jun 23 @ 10:30 am – 4:00 pm


The third 2016 Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas bootcamp!

What are the bootcamps?

The bootcamps are part of the support and development programme given to all Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas performers. They are a chance to get tips from Edinburgh Fringe veterans, sound out ideas and polish your performance. If you’ve been through the bootcamp process before, please come along and pass on your learning to the new intake!

Why should I come to this third one?

This third and final bootcamp is aimed at all performers, both first-timers and experienced. It’ll give you a good induction into stagecraft techniques, like the (harder-than-it-looks) art of using a hand-held microphone. It’s also a chance to meet your fellow performers in the flesh and share tips!

Engaging Session | Engaging with policy @ Venue to be advised
Jun 27 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

engaging-sessionsThis session is organised by Heriot-Watt Engage, but staff and research students from all of Edinburgh’s universities are welcome to attend.


Learn about the multi-stage process of policy making, and the windows of opportunity to Ishare your research with policymakers.

Save the Date | Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas 2017!
Aug 4 – Aug 28 all-day

Contact Us

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

Phone: 0131 650 4874/4875

Our Tweets

@edbeltane postdoctoral opportunity in USA for science communication: climate change or women in STEM.…

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