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Sustainability for Science Shops

Eileen Martin or Emma McKenna POLICY AND
Queen’s University Science Shop
Queen’s University Belfast BT7 1NN
Eileen Martin
and Emma McKenna

Over the last 30 years, Science Shops across Europe have had to develop
strategies to ensure sustainability. One of the main ways of achieving this
over the long term has been linking to policy priorities. This means making
sure that policymakers such as funders, political representatives and senior
university managers understand and appreciate how Science Shops can help
them to deliver on their own relevant priorities.

Developing a policy context takes time, knowledge and skill. The knowledge
and skills can be learned and we hope that this handbook will go some way
towards helping with this learning. However time is a separate issue and it
should be noted that the suggestions here are a menu, and some readers
may be able to implement more actions than others. Some readers may also
already be implementing some of the actions without realising it.

Policy development work can feel challenging for Science Shop practitioners,
especially in the early stages of the work. However the experience of
longstanding Science Shops suggests that policy work is vital to long term
success. This handbook draws lessons from the experiences of other Science
Shop practitioners over the years. We hope this report will be of use to you
in terms of thinking about how you might contribute to policy development
“It is not easy to play chess simultaneously on in your own work.
different boards. Many Science Shops do not
We would like to offer our thanks to those people who took the time to
know how to give more priority to their strategic provide us with information about their work which provides the raw material
development within international, national, regional or for this report.
university policies” We would also like to gratefully acknowledge the work of all of the partners
(Established Science Shop) within workpackage 7 of the PERARES project who have contributed to
this report. In particular Henk Mulder, University of Groningen, Catherine
Bates, Dublin Institute for Technology, Jozefien De Marrée, Vrije Universiteit
Brussels, Kenneth Burns, Catherine O’Mahony and Anna Kingston, University
College Cork, Hansje Eppink and Gerard Straver, Wageningen University and
Norbert Steinhaus, Bonn Science Shop, have all offered valuable insights.

Emma McKenna and Eileen Martin

Queen’s University Belfast
October 2013

Study Financed by the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme

(FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 244264

The views and opinions expressed in this publication are the sole responsibility of the
authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission.

A Practical Guide to
1 Developing Policy and Strategy 2
Figure 1: Figure 2:
Key Structures in HEIs for Methods for developing policy and
development of strategy and policy strategy to support Science Shops in HEIs

What How
Policy context: Ministers Government
Funders Government
Regional and international depts Funding agencies Step 1: Survey Desk Research Strategic Plans. Online.
Workers and boards territory Education Strategy and policies.
Research Strategy and policies.
Funding Streams.
Strategies of Key Funders.
Other external
inc CSOs Background Find people who know about policy in the HEI Examine networks.
Research What are the interests of senior managers – Use Blogs, Twitter, CV, Research profiles.
research and personal? Use contacts in different academic departments.
Relevant academic departments.

Strategic Plan Step 2: Build Networking Identify like minded people Practice your arguments
alliances For non-academic Science Shop co- Create an exemplar project (see figure 3).
Vice Chancellor, ordinators, identify academic partners to
supervise projects. Attend conferences, network.
Rector or President Create national and international links. Use Living Knowledge website.
Senior Academics
Teaching Education Research Engagement Step 3: Make Lobbying Inform Send information to key decision makers.
your case

Involve Ask decision makers to do something for you, or

ask how your science shop can help them fulfil
their objectives
Sub Strategies
Participate Contact relevant staff to ensure you are on the
mailing list for policy document being consulted on.
Volunteer for policy working groups or strategic
committees. Contribute info/words to key policy
Academics and documents.
Deliverables and Measurables, Key Performance Indicators administrators Go to consultations and events and talk to
people, formally and informally.
Use your elevator pitch (see figure 4)

Step 4: Maintenance Watching brief Identify new policy coming up and existing
Be prepared policy due to be reviewed. Volunteer for
committees/strategy groups.
Figure 1 above shows some of “We started out in the educational office, then moved to our
the key structures which influence research office. We’re now in student support. Our targets
policy development within Higher Maintain and build relationships Informal meetings, send info, attend events
Education Institutions (HEIs). Whilst
have varied from number of subjects, to number of community
there may be variations between groups to numbers of students we work with. The context
different organisations, policy changes but the work stays the same.” Maintain and build PR Take photos, write up press releases using good
practice examples (see figure 5)
priorities are normally based around
the three pillars of Higher Education - (Established Science Shop) Gather testimonials from students, staff and CSOs
Evaluate qualitatively and quantitatively, to have
teaching, research and engagement. statistics and stories ready
Science Shops have been successfully
embedded in policy in all three areas
since they normally involve students Figure 2 is a summary of the methods used to develop policy and strategy to support Science Shops in HEIs. These
working on research projects with methods are explored in more detail in the following section. It offers four steps in developing strategy to support
external organisations. community engagement in HEIs: Surveying the territory; Building alliances; Making your case; and being prepared for

A Practical Guide to
3 Developing Policy and Strategy 4
Step one: Step two:
Survey the territory Build alliances

Getting to know your HEI and the broader government policy context Find the people who are likely to be supportive of the work you are doing. Some may support you on a personal or
for the work of the Science Shop is the first part of successful policy collegial basis. Others may be supportive of the transformative effect of the work on students or on CSOs.
development. How to go about this will vary from one HEI to another. Each
HEI is unique. Some are very formal and it is difficult to break through layers • Analyse your social and • Talk to people at all levels - “One Professor realised that
of administration. Others are much more informal and it is easier to directly professional networks to see sometimes junior people within a the project was carried out in
approach people in different areas. Desk research is a good starting point where there are people who HEI can influence policy agendas
regardless of HEI structures. might support the Science and are easier to reach than the town where she was from,
Shop. Look across the academic senior people. and something started to
“My colleague can talk to Get to know the policy context in your HEI by doing desk and structures. click”
background research: • For academics – your head of
anyone. He spotted our Dean • Practice your arguments. Talk department or head of research
on the train and decided • Read key documents - strategic research interests, read their to colleagues and friends about or teaching group may be your
to go and tell him all about plans, research and teaching biographies, Google them and why you are committed to the route to senior management.
Science Shops. He has a really strategies for the HEI and for see what comes up. Are they on Science Shop. See what connects Get to know how the Science
persuasive way with him and academic or administrative social media? Follow them. Do with people. See what they want Shop might fit their interests.
departments. What are the key they have a blog? Can you see to know and whether they have Make them your advocate or
he was able to do this, I never priorities the HEI/department any points of connection to what any problems with the concept. champion if possible.
could!” are delivering on? Where can The Science Shop is doing? Be If necessary, identify training to
the Science Shop model best prepared for a time when you help you with this. • Find venues in the HEI where
(New Science Shop)
make a contribution? Who writes may meet them unexpectedly. people connect across faculties
the strategic plan? What are the • Create an exemplar project (see and the hierarchy, formally or
timescales for the next version? • Get to know the formal and Figure 5 below). informally. For example, learning
Where is the HEI/department informal agendas in relevant and teaching or research
having trouble delivering on the academic departments. Which • Make use of tools developed seminars, or the university gym,
strategic plans? are more linked to CSO within international networks – crèche, dining facilities, etc.
agendas? Where do they have they can lend credibility to your Where do people go to connect
• Examine funding streams and trouble getting experience arguments. with others?
what they are designed to for students? Where are the
deliver. Can The Science Shop opportunities in the curriculum? • Attend national and international • Develop relationships with
link to any existing funding Check formal requirements for conferences and events and policymakers – once you’ve
streams? Is it able to deliver academic skills for students/ build links with other Science found what they’re interested
added value? Is it able to deliver graduates and see how science Shops in your region and in and their key targets and
on an area that is currently shop projects can support these. internationally – for example deliverables, find ways to
underachieving? the biannual Living Knowledge connect them to the Science
• Look out for other documents Conference. Often your senior Shop agendas.
• Talk to colleagues and friends that may be useful – anything managers will be persuaded by
who know the policy context that comes across your desk, what is working successfully in
– do you know anyone who is think about it through the frame other HEIs, particularly those
very good at policy influence? of Science Shop – academic they regard as competitors or
Can they lobby on your behalf? quality assurance documents leaders.
Can you use them to practice may help, as may academic
your elevator pitch(see Figure council reports or minutes. • Identify venues and
6)? Are there people outside the opportunities to talk to policy
HEI who can break through the • Watch out for opportunities makers about what the Science
structures? and threats - who will support Shop can do for them – inside
or work against Science Shop and outside the HEI.
• Get to know the agenda of your agendas? Keep a general watch
Rector/VC/Dean/Head of School on what is happening in the
– you may want to focus first university, use contacts to keep
on the person you have most in touch with who is working on
access to, but it is worth knowing what.
about the others as well. Read
their documents, look at their

A Practical Guide to
5 Developing Policy and Strategy 6
Step THREE: Figure 4:
Developing your elevator pitch
Make your case

It is important to have a strong senior management in the HEI. To deliver an ‘elevator pitch’
Once you get to know the agendas of your senior managers, the next step is “We don’t really lobby, but elevator pitch ready for the times Draw clear links between your effectively, experience suggests that
to start to lobby them. There are softer and harder lobbying techniques and we do go to places where we when you unexpectedly meet a policy work and the strategic needs of there is a need for academic staff in
not all will be appropriate in every context, so choose what is most likely to or decision-maker. For example, if your School/College/University. particular - who may be discipline,
work within your HEI and what works best for your skill set. The first goal is to
know people with influence will
you meet a Pro-Vice Chancellor over Ensure they know how to contact teaching or research-focused - to
make sure that policy makers know what you do, the second step is to try to be and we make presentations
lunch or your Head of College in a lift, you for further information. become knowledgeable about the
involve them (even in an honorary capacity) and the third goal is to get them to and talk to them afterwards” and you get an opportunity to pitch • The key point is to emphasise the bureaucracy of their HEI, the names
participate. (Community Engagement Initiative) your Science Shop, what do you say “so what?” element: our initiative, and roles of key policymakers, the
to them? A pre-prepared ‘elevator if supported, can help you/the specifics of School/College/University
pitch’ (so called as it is meant to be School/College/University meet strategic plans and KPIs, and relevant
Inform by: See figure 5 for examples of websites, • Ensuring that any targets you add to delivered in the time it takes you to its goals/deliverables/tasks/key county or national education/research
• Inviting people to your events, leaflets and videos from existing documents are deliverable by you take an elevator ride) is a 30 second - performance indicators (KPIs) in policies which can be linked to a
sending them information and Science Shops. personally or by trusted partners - at 2 minute piece that could outline: the area of University/National rationale for CBR activities. For some,
keeping them in touch with what this level, success is vital. policy, strategic plans, etc. in the this may involve an uncomfortable
you are doing. Get in touch with Involve by: • Going to policy consultations and • The name of the initiative (a following way(s)… closeness with the language of
their secretary and see if you can • Giving senior managers an telling policy makers why and how snappy name is useful), your new-managerialism; however, it is
get time held in their diary to honorary role, for example in the Science Shop delivers on their name and role, a short summary possible to translate the unrelated
attend your event. an advisory board or a student agendas. Asking them directly of your goals and activities, key language of HEI ‘business’ into more
• Using internal communication awards panel. to write it in, giving them direct achievements. If possible, identify appropriate language to describe civic
routes, magazines, staff • Taking photos and videos which words where possible to make it an issue currently concerning engagement activities such as CBR.
newsletters etc to make sure your include senior managers (with easier for them.
work is known within the HEI. their consent to use them for • Volunteering or getting nominated
• Getting public profile for publicity). for policy working groups,
successful projects - use your HEI’s strategic committees, boards, Step FOUR:
press office or build links with local Participate by: advisory groups etc where
press. Take good photographs • Contacting relevant staff to make possible to help build connections. Prepare to Mobilise
and get consent to use them sure you are on the mailing list for • Going to places where policy
publicly. Make videos if possible. policy consultations. makers will be and talking to
• Using social media - website, • Reading draft policy documents them.
Twitter, Facebook and linking to and commenting on them, adding • Watching out for opportunities for Almost every longstanding Science Shop has experience of having someone in a position of authority who does not
the people you are seeking to in specific words where possible. informal discussion - using people understand what they do or support what they do. Many have also faced budget or staffing cuts due to changing priorities
influence. Small and specific changes are you know to help. or overall reductions in HEI funding. Successful Science Shops have understood the need to keep engaging with people at
• Developing a website to highlight often easier to implement than big • Keeping a watching brief on a broad level across their HEI so that they have strong support if a threat emerges. Some have also successfully shifted the
your work. changes. what is coming in the future - for focus of what they do whilst keeping the main goals of the work the same. It is important to work with every new manager
example EC policy. and find a way to connect, mobilising other supporters where necessary. It is vital to anticipate this threat and be prepared!

Prepare by: • Continuing to use PR mechanisms Conclusion

• Understanding that policy and to ensure there is an information This guide has suggested a range
strategies continually move on. flow on successful projects and of practical actions to help new and
Figure 3: Many successful Science Shops to keep the project in the public emerging Science Shops examine the
Creating an exemplar project have reinvented themselves eye and visible. Invisible projects policy context within their HEI and
where necessary. are much easier to cut. See figure understand how they can influence
• Ensuring that The Science Shop 5 overleaf for examples on how it. More than anything, being aware
is written into as many different other Science Shops do this. and prepared is vital. It is important to
• For academics, look for a • Pick a topic that will gain interest • Work with an organisation policy areas and strategic aims • Continue to work with both create and seize opportunities
manageable research topic, within your HEI – either because who understand that this is a as possible. This means it can international colleagues to help and to have the arguments ready
ideally within your own academic of the subject area or because pilot project and is enthusiastic continue to exist even if one area develop new ideas and for mutual ahead of time. Different people
area it targets a geographic or other about the concept as well as loses priority. support will develop different styles of
area of strategic importance the output – someone who will • Continuing to maintain a listening communicating policy information;
• For administrators, identify a speak positively about the idea ear and build relationships. You these guidelines aim to help you
supervisor who is supportive of • Find a good student who is likely even if outcomes aren’t perfect may rely on these relationships if a develop yours.
the Science Shop concept and to produce a strong result and threat emerges.
has a flexible approach who is likely to speak positively • Take plenty of photos or video
about the learning from the footage and get permission to I commented on a paper for the HEI ... adding in the words ‘and community’ where business
project use them publicly was mentioned. (The policymaker) was really grateful because I was the only person who had
commented at all... now community is written right through our Educational Philosophy’
(new Science Shop)

A Practical Guide to
7 Developing Policy and Strategy 8
Figure 5: “One needs to talk to every
Resources new person in power and
Leaflets and newsetters
make the case for a Science
Shop again”
Queen’s University Belfast Science Shop,259705,en.pdf (Established Science Shop)
DIT Students Learning With Communities leaflet
Vrije Universiteit Brussels Newsletter

University College Cork Community Academic Research Links

University College Cork Community Academic Research Links

“I’m well connected, better
Wageningen Science Shop - publications
than a lot of people more
senior than me. I sit on
Free University of Brussels Science Shop committees and on strategy groups and it means I get
DIT Students Learning With Communities – newsletters. talking to a lot of people and they know me….often
I can move things on a bit”
Social Media - Twitter
(Senior Manager)
Living Knowledge Network, Europe @scienceshops
National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement, UK @nccpe
London School of Economics Impact Blog, UK @lseimpactblog
Community University Engagement Project, UK @cuppbrighton
Simon Fraser University Engagement, Canada @sfuengage “Just try it – I was told
Pascal Observatory @pascalobservatory at the start that these
UNESCO Chair for CBR and Social Responsibility in Higher Education @buddhall colleagues would not be
interested in the Science
Videos Shop but they were!”
Queen’s University Belfast Science Shop (New Science Shop)
Dublin Institute for Technology’s Students Learning With Communities
Free University of Brussels Science Shop “We got a new manager
University College Cork, Ireland, Community Academic Research Links who is less interested in Science Shops and now I
need to mobilise all positive
forces with me”
(Established Science Shop)
A Practical Guide to
9 Developing Policy and Strategy 10