Engaging People in Communities (EPIC) is a new development in CKI that builds on the success of CKI's partnership with communities since its inception in 2001. The particular role of EPIC is to coordinate community-university partnerships and Knowledge Exchange between the wider community and the university. This will involve supporting collaborative models of research, facilitating knowledge sharing and exchange, strengthening links between teaching and research, and building capacity for these activities within the university and the wider community.
EPIC acts as a point of contact for community and civil society organisations who would like to access research and other partnership opportunities with the university. It is also a key contact point for staff and students within the university who would like to become involved in research and public engagement opportunities with the wider community.
EPIC aims to:
- Identify community needs in terms of research and create a knowledge base of university and community requirements.
- Create spaces for dialogue, knowledge sharing and exchange, and matching interests.
- Encourage engagement-collaboration with the university by external communities.
- Manage initial contacts to facilitate connections and support ongoing collaborations.
- Support and co-ordinate dissemination of research findings.
- Evaluate the work on an ongoing basis to ensure good practice.
There are many types of activities that can be included in this type of community-university engagement, including:
- Community-Engaged Research by students through students dissertations.
- Community-Engaged Research by staff.
- Provision of public lectures, presentations and workshops.
- Various forms of Knowledge Exchange and dissemination of research.
- Membership of boards of community-based and civil organizations.
EPIC is a member of the Living Knowledge, an international network of collaborative research inititiatives, entitled Science Shops. The aim of Science Shops is to identify community needs in terms of research and try to address these needs through a variety of methods, always with the intention of collaboration among all the stakeholders. The Science Shops act as mediators or contact points between the communities and research institutions. Science Shops are often linked to universities, where research is carried out by students as part of their curriculum under the supervision of the Science Shop and a member of academic staff. The term science is used in a broader sense, as it incorporates all kind of disciplines. Over the last few years international interest in the Science Shop model has developed, and it has been established in a wide variety of countries.