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Events and public engagement

Open lecture audience 550

Get involved: Find out how you can get involved with public engagement events throughout the year. 

The Events Office develops and enhances the University’s reputation through the conception, planning, development and delivery of a professional events management strategy and public engagement programme.

As well as maintaining and developing regional, national and international partnerships with a range of organisations and influencers, the Events team delivers an events programme, including both corporate events and public engagement activities, and provides events management advice to staff in departments.

The team have developed and lead four key channels for public engagement:

Online Events: Due to the Coronavirus lockdown, events which would normally take place in person had to be re-configured to take place online. For more information on organising public engagement events online, please see our advice for online events

Why public engagement is important

Public engagement activities are important to both the University and to individual researchers. The reasons why the University believes passionately in engaging the public in our community and the reasons why academic participation in public engagement is important are various and can be characterised as follows:

  • At a broad level, events such as York Festival of Ideas, open lectures, the Science Trail and York Researchers’ Night, educate, inform and inspire members of the general public, school students, potential students. In addition the delivery of a vibrant programme of accessible and free events creates a vibrant environment for University staff, students and visitors
  • Public events also help position the University as a public intellectual and thought leader; 
    • encourage knowledge dissemination and exchange;
    • help inform research and facilitate interdisciplinary working;
    • inform and educate the public about the work of universities and the University of York in particular;
    • inspire the next generation of researchers;
    • enhance teaching and learning, and increase and demonstrate the University’s impact on society and the UK economy.
  • The growth in the culture of engagement is in part driven by the requirement in the latest Research Excellence Framework to consider the economic, social and cultural impacts that might, and do, arise from research and teaching, and the increasing need to demonstrate accountability in the use and impact of of public money used to deliver research.
  • At a personal level, engagement events offer opportunities for researchers at all levels to develop transferable and career-enhancing skills.

Public engagement activities also support the University strategies in a variety of ways, including:

  • Maintaining and developing collaborations and partnerships at regional, national and international levels
  • Contributing to the impact agenda
  • Playing an active role in the city and contributing to the educational, social and cultural development of York and Yorkshire
  • Investing in activities which raise aspirations to HE, and breaking down barriers to education, and Higher Education in particular
  • Contributing to the University’s reputation as a research-led institution which works for the benefit of the community.


Job title Name Telephone Email
Head of Events Sarah Mitchell 01904 324633
Events Officer  Naomi Richards 01904 322064
Events Officer (Mon, Tues, Thurs) Portia Hewitt 01904 324123
Events Officer (Mon, Weds, Thurs)  Suzanne Thorn 01904 328405
Assistant Events Officer Hannah Francis 01904 324298 
Events Marketing Officer Sue Bennett 01904 324778
York Festival of Ideas Officer Caron Lett