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5 ways we engage with the public


5 ways we engage with the public

From public lectures to soapbox science in the city centre, Newcastle University is encouraging people to think differently.

Public lectures

Around 10,000 people attend our INSIGHTS series of lectures each year.

The speakers have included both leading academics and public and cultural figures, such as writer George Monbiot and the NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security Clare Hutchinson, who studied at Newcastle University.

The University’s academics also take part and recent programmes have included professors Hayley Fowler, who spoke on climate change, Ashley Adamson, an expert on childhood obesity, and Peter Hopkins, who gave a lecture on Islamophobia.

Empty, multicoloured chairs in a lecture theatre.

Soapbox Science

In June, female academics from Newcastle University will be among those standing on soapboxes at Grey’s Monument in the city centre to tell passers-by about their work.

It's part of an initiative by Soapbox Science, a grassroots science outreach organisation that brings cutting-edge research to urban streets.

Soapbox Science aims to give everyone the chance to learn from, question, interact with and be inspired by some of our leading scientists and promotes the visibility of women in science.

The University has provided funding for this local event for the past five years.

A person displaying science in the street.

Pint of Science

As part of this worldwide science festival, Newcastle University researchers will visit some of the city’s pubs during three days in May to present their scientific discoveries.

The idea is to bring science to a different audience by taking talks out of lecture theatres into a more relaxed environment.

This will be the fourth year Newcastle has taken part and the University will run 18 events on all six themes of the festival: Atoms to Galaxies, Beautiful Mind, Planet Earth, Our Body, Our Society and Tech Me Out.

Topics will range from mindfulness meditation, climate change and animal welfare to smart cities, sex education, cancer treatment and many more. 

A brain in a pint glass wearing glasses.

Street Law

Set up in 2011, Newcastle University Law School’s Street Law Project involves law students training as Street Law Ambassadors to work with children, young people and vulnerable groups in the community, delivering awareness-raising sessions about their legal rights.

Topics covered have included police powers, access to legal services, rights for young parents, street drinking, hate crime, internet safety, and transitions into adulthood. The students also produce materials, such as leaflets, providing basic information on these topics.

The project also aims to encourage and empower young people and vulnerable groups to further develop their own awareness of the law and the legal system and how it affects them.

For the students involved it helps them to develop their legal knowledge and transferable skills and to put them to good use, at the same time, contributing to the local community.

A road sign displaying a balanced scale.

Street scientists

Newcastle University’s street scientists are enthusiastic students who specialise in ‘science busking’.

They deliver workshops in primary schools and put on demonstrations at events and festivals around the country with the aim of encouraging young people to consider a future in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

The street scientists are students, but they don’t necessarily study a science subject.

The STEM workshops are increasingly popular with primary schools, so a GCSE level of science knowledge is all that is required.

And every street scientist is fully trained before they begin giving demonstrations.

A young schoolboy wearing a lab coat and goggles, excited by a science experiment.