Are these open gates or defences?
In the first in a series of responses to the UCL Public Engagement Unit’s 10th birthday this blog from Professor Ian Needleman (UCL Eastman Dental Institute) asks what more we can do with our physical spaces at UCL.
Laura Cream in her provocative blog asks ‘Are we being ambitious enough for public engagement at UCL?’. The ten year anniversary of the Public Engagement Unit (PEU) is indeed a cause for celebration of progress at UCL. From my point of view, as I have neglected to do this, it is time for me to say huge thanks to the PEU staff for their support, guidance and cajoling which has transformed how I see my role.
After ten years, what I feel most is a greater hunger and impatience for where we should be. The physical and metaphorical gates on Gower Street still represent a barrier, which is of course what they were intended to provide structurally. The museums have wonderful, award-winning events and collections that attract the public and our local communities. There are many other events that bring us together at specific times. But where are the UCL spaces that the public chose to wander into daily to pause for a few minutes and hopefully in some way share with us our rich activities and we might to learn something from their experiences? What a rich opportunity this would provide and who knows what conversations it might start?