umbrella seen from below showing spokes and panels ranging from an orange through the spectrum to green
umbrella seen from below showing spokes and panels ranging from an orange through the spectrum to green

PER Culture Change Fund

PER Culture Change Fund

Closed for applications.

The PER Culture Change Fund is an internal grant scheme to support building capacity for Public Engagement with Research (PER) at the departmental level. 

Applications are invited from those representing departments / faculties (hereafter referred to as ‘departments’). Applicants can be researchers, public engagement professionals and other staff. Students are welcome as co-applicants.

The 2021-22 round of this scheme opened for applications in September 2021 on a rolling basis, and will close in May 2022 or once all funds have been awarded. All awarded funds must be spent by 31 July 2022. This scheme was previously called the 'Departmental PER Seed Fund' and ran under that name from January to June 2021.

Proposed budgets may be between £1,500 and £4,000. Funds can be requested to support activities and projects that build staff and student capacity in Public Engagement with Research and/or activities that contribute to ongoing departmental support for Public Engagement with Research.

How to apply

Applications are submitted through IRAMS.

The Application Guidance, Case for Support, and EDGE Guidance are available here:

Any queries? Please email publicengagement@admin.ox.ac.uk.

Awarded Projects: Departmental PER Seed Fund 2021

The PER Culture Change Fund scheme was previously called the 'Departmental PER Seed Fund' and ran under that name during the latter half of the 2020-21 academic year. Five projects were awarded:

English Faculty: Dr Stuart Lee & Prof. Carolyne Larrington

"Expanding the Capacity for the English Faculty’s Great Writers Inspire Podcasts: Pilot Study and Recommendations"

This project seeks to test drive a public engagement model for the English faculty: mapping out the process by which a research cluster can streamline the creation of podcasts to increase public engagement with research, solicit contributions amongst research students and professional support staff, and engage younger students with Faculty research activities and resources. Using its existing Fantasy Literature cluster as a pilot Dr Caroline Batten, working with Dr Stuart Lee and Professor Carolyne Larrington, will produce a series of new podcast episodes and teaching resource packs as proof of concept, creating diverse and expansive content for the Faculty’s Great Writers Inspire and with links to the University’s OxPLORE initiative. Importantly, Dr Batten will produce a report evaluating the project’s workflow and impact, providing a blueprint for future English Faculty PER projects that will benefit staff and students across a wide variety of research areas. Oxford plays a starring role in the history of fantasy literature, and since 2018 the English Faculty’s fantasy research cluster, headed by Larrington and Lee, has sought to draw on Oxford’s rich resources to foreground exciting new work on fantasy literature and showcase new authors in podcasts, videos, and lectures accessible to the public.

Fantasy Literature resources: Great Writers Inspire 

@OxFantasyLit twitter profile

Reuben College: Dr Catarina Vicente & Janet Stott

"PER student programme at Reuben College"

Reuben College is the newest graduate college in Oxford, focusing on interdisciplinary research addressing 21st century challenges. Unusually for a college, Public Engagement with Research (PER) is a strategic focus of Reuben, and the college is currently exploring how PER in a college setting can be both distinct and add value to the PER provision in departmental and divisional settings. Areas of focus include both interdisciplinary PER and a space for scholarly explorations of PER. Our application from the Departmental PER Seed Fund aims to support the development of our student PER programme. Specifically, it will help us develop our Introduction to PER workshop, which will be offered to all new students as part of Reuben’s weekly skills workshop series, as well as our student PER innovation fund, where small funds will be available for students to develop their own interdisciplinary PER projects under the mentorship of a Fellow at Reuben.

Zoology: Julia Migné and Sofia Castello Y Tickell

"Fostering public engagement within the department of Zoology through podcasting"

This project will build capacity for PER within the Department of Zoology by involving students and staff members in the development of season 2 of the Good Natured podcast. Good Natured is a Conservation Optimism podcast, where listeners can join Julia Migné (Department of Zoology staff member) and Sofia Castelló y Tickell (postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Zoology) for uplifting chats that shine a light on conservation challenges. In each episode, they interview an inspiring conservationist. Their guests come from a variety of backgrounds – artists, scientists, business owners, and activists – and engage with conservation in a variety of ways. The production process will involve Department members as guests and pilot listeners. The project will also include training sessions within the Department around the topic of communication framing and storytelling so that participants feel empowered to conduct PER activities in the future.

Conservation Optimism - Learning how to be a podcaster training review

Nuffield Department of Population Health: Dr Rachel Rowe, Prof. Fiona Alderdice, and Sophia Wilkinson, with Rachel Plachcinski and Charlotte Bevan

"The Listening Series: increasing equity in departmental patient and public involvement and engagement activities by listening to and learning from seldom-heard groups"

The Listening Series aims to further increase equity in public engagement with research (PER) activities in the Nuffield Department of Population Health, and further develop more effective and meaningful engagement with people from a wide range of different experiences and backgrounds.  The Department has recently developed a PER strategy and some research groups, including the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit which is leading this project, have a long track record of involving the public in their research.  Even with that experience, however, our PER is not as inclusive or equitable as it could be – people from ethnic minority and socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, for example, are less likely to be engaged with and involved in our research.  To inform our PER strategy, and so that we can develop practical guidance for our researchers and students, this project will pilot a ‘listening series’ in which we will hear from representatives of voluntary groups or organisations representing or working with communities that are under-represented in our PER activities.  Facilitated by an independent expert, these listening sessions will be video-recorded and edited to produce podcasts and practical guidance for dissemination within the Department and to the wider research community.

School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography: Dr Will Allen

Developing the knowledge and capacity of researchers to produce short and impactful videos

This activity will facilitate direct contact among researchers based at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography (SAME) and professional videographers. These researchers are already undertaking video-making training with the objectives of developing their technical skills while producing their first video projects. By providing time to engage with professionals, as well as embedding this training within the department, this funding will lead to high-quality video outputs communicating anthropological research while also fostering critical conversations about the opportunities and challenges associated with using video as a medium for representing communities.

Awarded Projects: PER Culture Change Fund 2021-22

MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (WIMM): Dr Catherine Seed

Engaged Researcher Programme

This project aims to further develop our culture of Public Engagement with Research within the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine with a year-long ‘Engaged Researcher’ Programme of talks and workshops. Our monthly sessions will be tailored to developing key knowledge across storytelling and performance skills, two-way engagement with communities and patients, and inclusive engagement. Through these workshops we hope to; create a community of practice in PER across our research groups, to further support our researchers in developing their own engagement practice, and to link to a wider network of engagement practitioners and community organisations. 

Department of Sociology: Agnieszka Swiejkowska and Dr Sam Harper

Sociology Youth Advisory Board - pilot

The Department of Sociology’s ‘Youth Advisory Board’ (YAB) pilot is a vehicle for researchers to engage with year 12 A level students in PER, outreach, and knowledge exchange activities. The YAB is composed of 50 students from 4 schools from the Swindon and South Gloucestershire areas which are characterised by low per capita education-spend and under average quality higher education placements.

Through in-person and online workshops, ‘Ask an Expert’ sessions and newsletters, students will learn about the department, and its research, and engage with individual projects. The YAB benefits researchers by giving them PER experience, and possibly also knowledge exchange / user group opportunities. If the pilot is successful, the ambition is that the YAB will become financially self-funding as it can be priced into funding applications, thereby ensuring that PER activities are embedded in the design of research projects.

Members of the YAB will learn how research is funded and how it helps address real-world challenges. At the end of their relationship with the department, students will receive references from the PIs they have worked with and certificates signed by the Research Director of the Sociology department and experience on their CVs that will help them gain a place in the Higher Education Institution of their choice.

Department of Physics: Professor Alan Barr, Dr Tristan Farrow, Dr Sian Tedaldi and Professor Chris Lintott

Collaborative Engagement Network in Physics

The Department of Physics will embed collaborative engagement practices across the Department through the launch of the Collaborative Engagement Network in Physics (CENiP). CENiP will be a coordinated approach to PER which supports and facilitates public engagement with research (PER) that enables public groups and researchers to collaborate. The launch of CENiP will capitalise on three pilot projects which involve school students carrying out real research across three different research themes: astrophysics, particle physics and quantum physics. These projects will be used to develop and test educational tools and methodologies to demonstrate to researchers across the Department the diverse ways they can support young people to do real research. CENiPwill act as an incubator for new collaborative PER projects, supporting researchers to develop and pilot ideas with robust evaluations. It will include facilitated network activities as well as the development of a CENiP toolkit and evaluation framework to help build capacity for future projects. The launch will include an inaugural CENiP conference, which will become an annual departmental event to raise the profile of collaborative PER projects in the Department and showcase the research outputs and benefits of CENiP.

Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics: Louise Cotterell

DPAG Outreach and Public Engagement Working Group Multi-Disciplinary PER: Around the body in 5 steps

Who you gonna call? Myth-busters! - IF Festival 2022

Have you been told that we only use 10% of our brains? Or that carrots improve eyesight? Join scientists from the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics to debunk old wives’ tales and misconceptions about our amazing body. Discover why they are wrong, and why they were embraced as scientific fact in the first place.

This PER activity will be led by DPAG’s Outreach and Public Engagement Working Group (OPEWG) and will take place at the IF Festival 2022. Staff and students will take on roles representing 5 different organs or systems of the body (eg. heart, brain, gut) that align with research areas in DPAG. They will share interesting facts about the organ or system, myth-busters, and current research with members of public on the day. Visitors will be provided with an artist-designed body colouring booklet, and those that visit all five of the organs/systems will be eligible to enter a prize-draw to win a book token.

DPAG PER Prize:

DPAG staff and students will be invited to self-nominate, or be nominated, for a personal award to recognise their achievements in public engagement initiatives over the previous 12 months.