I applied for this, didn’t get it, but definitely important in the current communication and HE culture…

All the chosen academics assert that their colleagues have been supportive. According to Zoe Norridge, lecturer in modern and contemporary literature at the University of York, who spoke about cultural responses to the Rwandan Genocide, academic attitudes about the value of public engagement are “rapidly changing”, due in part to the impact agenda.”Public communication is becoming valued and cherished in a way it was not before. People are excited by impact and are pushing it as far as it can go,” she said.

“To be recognised for making research relevant to the wider public is exciting and feels like an opportunity.”

She was attracted by the chance to use the “intimacy” of radio to “communicate complex ideas in terms somebody washing up on a Wednesday evening can grasp and that make them want to hear more”. But she also saw media work – which she hoped to keep doing – as part of “building a profile”.

Dr Roscoe said academics had an important role in making people “stop and think about the world they are in” and welcomed the impact agenda as a way of leveraging institutional support for doing so.

“It is liberating that we are able to do this kind of thing and potentially gain house points for doing it successfully,” he said.

Dr Petts also admitted to having been motivated “to a certain degree” by the impact agenda – although he thought it would be difficult to quantify the impact of “soft knowledge” such as increasing the public’s historical understanding.

“The BBC can tell us listener numbers, but were they tuning in to listen to me or to Arianna Huffington?” he asked.

He also admitted that the relatively small audience of a Radio 3 programme broadcast at 10pm meant that any impact his broadcasts generated would be limited.

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