Engaged research

Central to AMBER’s research remit is an engaged research approach to our collaborative projects with not only industry, but all societal partners. Taking the definition outlined by SFI’s Campus Engage, engaged research refers to a broad range of research approaches and methodologies that involve working with stakeholders such as service and products users, members of the public, policymakers, civil and civic society organisations, and industry partners. This approach is used by our scientists to understand and investigate issues of public interest or concern, such as energy storage applications for climate change or wearable technologies.

AMBER’s engaged research programme invites communities and groups to conversations with our researchers around possible innovations based on the materials science and bioengineering research that we carry out. This involvement is crucial to building relationships, raising awareness, and empowering all those involved in and through research. Conversations include discussions on plastics, materials choices for a circular economy, and public patient involvement in materials for health. An important addition to these conversations is the coproduction of and full involvement in the research and innovation process, at every level of the project and its governance, including agenda setting, design, implementation, dissemination, and evaluation activities.

At our dialogic events, we aim to listen and understand the concerns of people, cocreate understanding through social learning, and cogenerate ideas around future possibilities in research. Our community dialogues consider the many ways we think about, and could engage with, the futures of technology based on current materials science and bioengineering research.

The key benefits to our engaged research programme are:

  • It allows for greater public accountability
  • It requires tacit knowledge exchange to address societal challenges. We are eager to see what lessons can be drawn from upstream public engagement that considers the downstream technologies and innovations arising from research
  • It stimulates a stronger external demand for innovative policy, practice, products, and services. It is important to understand how conventional ideas of technological risk can be integrated with wider social and political questions about purposes and alternative trajectories of technological futures
  • It maximises the value of research investment and provides a better return on investment for our industry collaborators
  • Crucially, it creates better public support and understanding of the importance of research in our everyday lives

We also consider and reflect on the process of engagement through dialogue to identify what changes or recommendations the public would make to improve our engagement practices at AMBER, to ideally improve public engagement capacity of the researcher and processes that we implement.

At each event, participants meet with AMBER researchers, explore current research themes, and talk through implications for the development of future technologies, thus engendering a sense of inclusivity, civic engagement, and insight into technologies & learning. We envisage that participants will feel empowered to engage in other consultative programmes or civic engagement fora.

As part of our continuous drive towards world-leading research, we have an SFI engaged research PhD student. This study is assessing the culture of engaged research in our centre and how to foster even more successful collaborations going forward.

If you are interested in collaborating with us, or learning more about what AMBER does in engaged research, please contact Sadhbh at creansa@tcd.ie.


Key Contacts

Collaborate with AMBER

AMBER has a strong emphasis on collaboration. Central to AMBER’s research remit are collaborative projects performed with industry partners, and working with academic, industry and wider stakeholder on international and national research programmes.

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