Next week, I am starting a project that will explore perception mapping at UCL and in the physical neighbourhood of it. The project was awarded as part of the UCL Public Engagement Unit Innovation Seed Fund and it is part of the wider activities of UCL’s Beacon for Public Engagement.
In this specific project (announced here), we are going to use the perception mapping methodologies that are used in the activities of Mapping for Change to understand how UCL is viewed in its neighbourhood, and how the researchers that are working at UCL relate to the local area.
We are going to focus specifically on the biomedical research community, mainly because UCL is one of the biggest centres for biomedical research in the UK, and continues to grow. The university has a clear public mission and an ambition to engage with local communities, and consequently links must be made between the local communities in Euston and King’s Cross and the university’s biomedical community.
Over the next year, through a series of workshops, the mapping perceptions project will explore how UCL is viewed by the local community, and how UCL researchers view the local area.
Building on the workshop discussions, artist Neal White will develop two unique guided tours. Participating UCL researchers will guide local participants around some of UCL’s research facilities, and the people who are involved from outside the university will guide UCL researchers on a tour of the local area. Through this process, the project aims to challenge the perceptions identified in the mapping workshops.
In a final exhibition, which will be design in collaboration with The Arts Catalyst, visitors will be able to access maps and visual photos generated by participants during the workshops and tours. Discussion events at the exhibition will provide an opportunity for all participants to meet again and discuss the issues that came to the fore during the exercise, making recommendations for ongoing engagement between UCL and the local community.
This project will follow the footsteps of the Citizen Science for Sustainability (SuScit) in terms of engaging local communities in scientific activities. To do that, we partnered with Capacity Global to learn from their experience as they were partners of SuScit. Updates on the project will be made available on Mapping for Change website.