UCL Department of Geography


Double awards for UCL Geography public engagement

2 July 2018

Empowering refugees and supporting indigenous peoples

Double awards for UCL Geography public engagement

Two UCL Geography staff have been recognised in the tenth year of UCL’s  Provost's Public Engagement Awards for their work supporting marginalised and under-represented groups:

Elena received the Established Career Academic award for her research with refugees, currently examining responses to displacement from Syria in nine communities in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

Her commitment to public engagement includes the creation of online ‘communities of conversation’, and collaboration both with locally-based researchers who have themselves been affected by displacement and humanitarian policy-makers and practitioners.

With colleagues in the UCL Institute of Education, she has also been working with women refugees and charities in London to strengthen their pathways to education.

The award panel were,

“hugely impressed by the role [Elena has] played in catalysing the development of UCL-wide public engagement activities in relation to support for refugees and displaced people and by the impact of [her] own research on humanitarian policy and practice.”

Muki and the Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) group received the Institutional Leadership award.

Their work is unique in catering to individuals and communities with widely differing levels of scientific engagement and confidence, in multiple locations, from London to the Congo and the Amazon rainforest.

It is ‘extreme’ in the global applicability, scope and benefits of the methods. This includes helping indigenous groups, such as the Ashaninka of Brazil and Peru, to stave off illegal loggers, and supporting the Baka groups in the Congo basin to protect themselves from the threat of heavily armed commercial poachers.

Hosting local ‘science cafe’ events and workshops also disseminates the principles that scientific knowledge and techniques belong to any and all publics, wherever and whoever they may be.

The award panel,

“were struck both by the team’s sustained commitment to exploring how Citizen Science approaches can be used in diverse contexts and communities with the aim of empowering people to develop collaborative solutions to problems, whether global or local in scale.”

Both Elena and Muki demonstrate that commitment to public engagement does not conflict with “frontier research”, whether in promoting “Southern-led Responses to refugee displacement” or promoting “Citizen Science” in widely different geographical contexts.