AAS holds Community and Public Engagement Strengthening Workshop
The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) held a two day Community and Public Engagement (CPE) capacity strengthening workshop on the 11th and 12th of June 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop was facilitated by AAS Public & Community Engagement Manager, Lillian Mutengu and Wellcome Trust International Engagement Relationships’ Manager, Georgia Bladon. It was attended by CPE officers from all African science research programmes and projects being implemented with the support of the AAS.
In his welcome remarks to the workshop attendees, Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) Director, Dr Tom Kariuki stressed the need for excellence in African science research to which he noted CPE as having a central role. He said, “Currently we are not getting the best out of the profession we are doing, CPE has a crucial role of telling the public of our African scientists’ work which will mean better public understanding of science. CPE has to play the important role of changing the face of science in Africa and incorporate more women into science.”
The two day workshop sought to give the CPE officers a clear understanding of the spectrum of community engagement and to provide them with guidance on developing effective Public Engagement Strategies. This was achieved through well-structured presentations on topics that include; Spectrum of Engagement, Engagement Strategy and Planning, and Impact and Evaluation in Engagement. The workshop also featured interactive group sessions that saw the CPE officers working together, interacting and sharing experiences from their different countries.
During her presentation on Engagement strategy and planning, Lillian pointed out the need for sustainable public engagement. She also emphasized on the importance of having a strategy, planning and partnerships. She said, “When developing a strategy think long term such that when you look back you say I left a mark.
“Change the mind-set of researchers to see engagement as a necessity. Inorder to change the mind-set you need to plan. Do your stakeholder analysis and mapping because different stakeholders will require different levels of engagement.”
The African Mental Health Research Initiative (AMARI) consortium presented its Public Engagement Strategy which it is implementing through the African Researchers Together In Communities Unlocking Local Arts, Training and Engaging (ARTICULATE).