Beltane Public Engagement Network

Opportunities Calendar

Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas 2018 @ New Town Theatre
Aug 3 @ 1:30 pm – Aug 26 @ 9:10 pm

The tickets for the 2018 Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas (CoDI) are on sale!black outline of a lightbulb with the letters CODI inside

Now in its sixth year, CoDI has been running at the Edinburgh Fringe since 2013.

CoDI is a unique blend of serious academic research, irreverent comedy and a liberal dose of controversy – all in the cause of our universities’ brightest and bravest engaging with the public through the medium of entertainment at the world’s largest arts festival.

The majority of the researchers performing are from universities in Edinburgh. Many are returning veterans, but we also have a whole host of new performers cutting their teeth!

This year, we’ll even have a special fringe of the Fringe, with a one-off show compilation at the Book Festival’s Unbound series (details to be published shortly).


Explorathon 2018 Communications Toolkit @ Institute for Academic Development
Aug 29 @ 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm

This workshop is ideal for 2018 Explorathon student volunteers and others who are new to engaging members of the public with their research. (Depending on demand, others are also welcome to attend – please email to inquire.)

It is an interactive session which looks at:

– Reasons to communicate (with different publics)

– Thinking about your audience in terms of who they are, their motivations for being there, how to facilitate a good experience

– Various tools to build a narrative e.g. simple structures, jargon busting, use of questions, signposts, body language

It is suitable for researchers working on any research topic.

This session will be delivered by Briony Curtis, an experienced public engagement practitioner.

Explorathon 2018 Storytelling Training @ Scottish Storytelling Centre
Aug 30 @ 9:30 am – 1:45 pm

This workshop is aimed primarily at Explorathon 2018 participants, but others are also welcome to attend if there is capacity. Please email before booking if you are *not* planning to take part in Explorathon.

This workshop is an introduction to using storytelling techniques for effective communication about research. It is ideal if you want to find a way to make your talks more engaging. It is suitable for both informal talks (e.g. chatting at drop-in sessions) and formal presentations.

We will look at what makes a story engaging (for example, anecdote) as well as at the variety of ways stories can be used to communicate research practices and findings. You will learn simple ways of working with story structure and techniques for telling.

This training is delivered by staff of the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

An Introduction to Designing Interactive Activities @ Room 5327 (5th floor)
Sep 7 @ 9:30 am – 4:00 pm

This training session is for you if you need help designing interactive public engagement activities. It is open to anyone doing research at the University of Edinburgh. (If we are unable to fill the course from the University of Edinburgh, we’ll open it up to other universities in Edinburgh.)

Do you want to turn an idea from your research into an activity involving members of the public? Maybe a game, a quiz show, a dance or even a magic trick? If you’re not sure where to start, join us for this workshop by David Price. David has 20 years experience of designing interactive engagement activities and is a LAMDA-trained public speaker.

As far as possible, example activities will be picked to suit the interests of participants.

This is a pilot workshop which the Instiute for Academic Development may run more regularly in the future, subject to evaluation.


9.30am Introduction, elevator pitch, communication tips and example activities

10.50am Break

11.00am Learning styles, activity design, using props and your body well

12.40pm Lunch

1.25pm Practice activities and elevator pitches to the rest of the group

4.00pm End


If demand is high, we may need to allocate places based on who seems like they would benefit the most. We aim to confirm that you have a place no later than one week before the course.

Explorathon 2018 @ Edinburgh and beyond
Sep 28 – Sep 29 all-day

European Researchers Night 2018

Fancy being part of Explorathon 2018, AKA European Researchers Night?

This September, do you fancy sharing your research in a pan-European event? Explorathon 2018 takes place on Friday 28th and Saturday 29th September 2018.

Explorathon is Scotland’s event for EU Researchers’ Night. Researchers’ Night takes place on the last Friday in September each year. It is a public celebration of research that takes place in more than 300 cities across Europe.

You don’t need to be funded by the European Commission to take part in Researchers’ Night, and you can be working on any area of research – the arts, humanities and social sciences are welcome.

Universities in Scotland first ran Explorathon in 2014. This year, events will take place in the cities of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews. The Beltane Public Engagement Network coordinates the events in Edinburgh. The Scottish event as a whole is led by the University of Aberdeen. 

Last year, around 3,000 members of the public turned out across the city to see events in venues including Ocean Terminal, WHALE Arts, the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church, the City Chambers, and many more.  This year, we hope to see many more people! Training will also be available the last week of July, with gamification training for specific activities in September.

If you would like to be involved, we are looking for both researchers and volunteers for the following venues:

Friday 28 September

The Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

The Botanics will once again be a venue for researchers to share their research through drop-in activities from 12 – 4pm. The audience will predominately be adults, with a smaller audience of 5-10 year olds. The theme for the Botanics in 2018 is ‘Native’, so although anything is welcome, there is also the opportunity to align with this theme.

Various schools across Edinburgh

Activities aimed at school groups can be shared across Edinburgh schools, either coordinated by university Widening Participation teams, or through University or Project specific contacts. Activities will take place on Friday morning, as Edinburgh schools finish at lunchtime.

Café Scientifique

Cafe Scientifique is an open and informal forum for the public discussion of science and engineering! The cafe is committed to encouraging public engagement with science and engineering by hosting monthly Cafes in which expert speakers are discussing timely topics with an audience of non-specialists. As part of Explorathon, Café Scientifique will take place in a central Edinburgh venue.

“New Scots” Science Ceilidh

Science Ceilidh is an award-winning science engagement project exploring research with traditional arts for communities across Scotland. This includes our long-term projects working with the Edinburgh “New Scots’ community (including Syrian refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers) to explore culture, including arts, music, language and science. For Explorathon, we are looking to partner with up to three individual researchers or research groups to run workshops with the New Scots community, possibly from August and certainly September, leading to a celebration “ceilidh” for the Explorathon itself (Friday night) sharing some of the learning through these new collaborations between researchers and New Scots, open to everyone. All disciplines welcome to apply – both science and humanities/social science, many of the activities will involve a mix of young children and adults.

See more:

Saturday 29 September


Building on our Explorathon activity with WHALE Arts in previous years, we will be basing one of our hubs there in 2018.  WHALE is situated in Wester Hailes in the South West of Edinburgh and is the cultural anchor organisation in its area.  It is a community-led charity and social enterprise, set up by local people in 1992. WHALE’s regular projects connect the community with creative opportunities and offer something for all ages and abilities.  We will be working with the WHALE team to create an interactive day around a number of themes: food, sustainability, placemaking and wellbeing. We are looking for researchers who use gamification and other methods of public engagement to engage for an interactive day for all the family.  Activities will take place during the day

The Lyell Centre @ Heriot-Watt

This year, the Explorathon coincides with Edinburgh Doors Open Day. To the west of the city, Heriot-Watt and BGS’s new marine and earth science centre will be opening their doors, and we will be looking for marine and earth focused activities and talks. Last years event attracted >700 people from a variety of backgrounds, and we will be building on increasing this diversity through work with local community groups. Activities and talks will take place from 10am – 4pm.

Leith Labs @ Ocean Terminal

Leith Labs is the world’s longest research-in-residency programme in a shopping centre situated in Ocean Terminal in Leith. The project aims to link the curiosity of Leithers with researchers, reaching and eventually empowering communities who many not usually go to science events (our evaluation suggest this is at least 59% of our audiences) with events year round. Activities have included table-top drop-in experiments, “science busking”, informal talks and discussions at the Living Memory Association. If you’re interested running any of these formats working with different audiences, exploring some of the 322-odd questions we’ve received from the Leith community or even partnering with a Leith Labs community scientist who has a question to ask, get in touch! All disciplines welcome (not just science!).

See more:

Please register your interest here – note that this doesn’t commit you to anything! Any questions, please contact We aim to be back in touch with all contributors in July 2018.

Key contacts for Explorathon at universities in Edinburgh are:

Save the date! | Royal Society training @ Central Edinburgh - tbc
Oct 24 all-day

The Royal Society will be in Edinburgh on Wednesday 24th October to deliver their training “An Introduction to Public Engagement”. This will be a workshop with a limited number of spaces available to each of the Edinburgh universities. More information coming as we get it!

NCCPE Engage Conference @ Edinburgh
Nov 29 @ 9:00 am – Nov 30 @ 5:00 pm

Framing new futures for public engagement

At the Engage Conference this year we’ll celebrate the NCCPE’s 10 year anniversary and take stock of the lessons learned. We’ll build on work to date to consider: where next for university public engagement? Weaving in stories from people who have been working to embed public engagement in their practice and institutions – and with provocation from outside the sector –  join us to plot an exciting future for public engagement.

We’ll be exploring:

  • Our visions for public engagement: the landscape for public engagement continues to morph and change, sensitive to broader changes in wider society. How can we make sense of the dramatic changes we are living through? How do we need to adapt our engagement activity? What opportunities are we missing? Who else can help? What will it look like 10 years from now? How will we get there?
  • Personal journeys: engagement takes time, but can be transformative. Do you have stories to share – about your own journey or about how teams, projects or whole institutions have been changed by engagement?
  • Perspectives on practice: engagement is typically a human, subtle process that creates significant change – to people, practices and products. There are a multitude or methods and approaches. Can you help us understand how to make engagement work?

This year we are going to Edinburgh, one of the original Beacons for Public Engagement, and now home of the Beltane Public Engagement Network. We are working with the Beltane Public Engagement Network which comprises Edinburgh Napier UniversityHeriot Watt University, the University of Edinburgh and Queen Margaret University to curate, organise and deliver an Engage Conference with a difference. Expect all the things you love about Engage – including plenty of opportunities to network and connect with others, inspiring keynote speakers, critical analysis, and stories of excellent engagement. A new place gives us the opportunity to include some new features, including a community focused ‘poster party’, and wrap-around events with a Scottish flavour.

Our call for submissions will open in April. For all enquiries, please contact

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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