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Durham University

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Public engagement - a route to 'research impact'

(28 May 2021)

Our researchers are using their expertise to identify solutions to a range of Global Goals. This has the potential to make an impact and save many lives if the outcomes of our research can be effectively translated into development policy and practice. The training event on Wednesday 26 May 2021 focused on how to engage with the public, media and network with relevant stakeholders and policy leaders to provide the route to impact and innovation needed for successful outcomes.

This activity is funded through the ACU Early Career Researcher (ECR) Training Grants fund to organise and deliver training for early career researchers. The training equips researchers with essential skills to enable them to succeed in their careers. The event has proven to be very popular, it was fully booked only a few days after advertising. The PhD candidates and Postdoctoral Researchers joined from all over the world and included participants from Durham University, ACU member universities and Matariki Institutions.

The programme included an introduction from the director of the Durham Global Challeneges CDT (Prof Douglas Halliday) and presentations from Durham University’s Global Office (Stephen Evans & Rachael Richards), members of the DCAD team (Paul Finley, Teresa Henley, Dr Peter Whitton), Chris Jameson, Senior BC Network Producer and Prof Nayanika Mookherjee.

In 2015 Professor Nayanika Mookherjee (Anthropology, Durham University) published her long term ethnographic research on the public memories survivors of sexual violence of the Bangladesh War of 1971 thereby countering the argument about silence relating to wartime rape. Since 2016, in collaboration with her partner Research Initiatives Bangladesh (RIB), various interlocuters and collaborators in Bangladesh and UK, she has co-authored a set of guidelines, graphic novel and animation film (drawn from the ethnography in the academic monograph) with a Bangladeshi visual artist, Najmunnahar Keya:

Birangona : Towards Ethical Testimonies of Sexual Violence during Conflict (English) - YouTube

The guidelines and graphic novel have also been used by governmental and non-governmental organisations working with survivors of sexual violence in conflict. This has led to changes in policy, practice and perceptions and is used by the Prevent Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Government of Bangladesh, Dr Dennis Mukwege Foundation, Dhaka Tribune, Ain O Shalish Kendra, Nijera Kori, Nari Pokkho, Survivors Speak Out Network among many other organisations in UK, Bangladesh and beyond.

We received very positive feedback:

The organizers of this training session have taught me an invaluable lesson on how to pair excellent content with an immersive participant experience. The wide range of content ensured that researchers from many different disciplines were able to discover something that they could apply to their individual research trajectory. The content was also presented in a seamless and fully functioning manner (which is not always the case for online-events); that experience allowed me to remain focussed on the valuable information presented. Given my interest in workshops and community engagement as part of my research project; I must humbly admit that you have set the bar very high. I will definitely keep this format and efficiency in mind to ensure that my participants gain as much from working with me as I have gained from attending your training session today.

Really well put together, covering many different aspects of media engagement, with many great resources provided. Great refresher to help me focus how to disseminate my research.

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