Introducing Laura Steen, the new Project Officer for the ParticipatoryResearch@Bath project, and her community-focused work.

Hello readers, Im Laura. I started my new role within the University of Bath's Public Engagement Unit back in March 2024 to support the development and delivery of the ParticipatoryResearch@Bath project. This Research England-funded project is working to better understand and enhance the culture of using participatory approaches to involve people outside the University more meaningfully and equitably in research.

What communities told us

In 2022, as part of the first phase of the ParticipatoryResearch@Bath  project, my colleagues undertook a series of events using informal chats and participatory arts-based activities to listen to communities and organisations across Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES). People told us what they wanted from the University. In particular, they wanted:

  • a clear ‘front door’ with a person welcoming them in,
  • opportunities to build a relationship rather than doing 'projects',
  • the University being present and being seen to get involved with what’s happening in a community.

You can check out some other details and some great summary animations from that work over on our Listening to Communities blog.

Creating community connections

Working with my colleague Katrina Kelly, the University's Head of Community Engagement, my role is to deliver on some of the needs identified by communities.

I see myself as a Community Connector, forming and holding relationships with communities outside the University. Just as Katrina has been doing, I'll also be bringing that knowledge back into the University's work and helping to share what I find out more widely.

Over the next 15 months, I'll be getting to know our local community better. I'll be going out and about meeting, listening, and learning more about the interests and motivations of groups across B&NES.

For us at the Public Engagement Unit and for the ParticipatoryResearch@Bath  project, we want to create opportunities for communities to connect with our researchers and for our researchers to connect with communities in meaningful ways.

Get in touch

I'm really excited about this role. I was drawn to it because of my background in community engagement and participatory arts. I do this work because I love connecting with new people, sharing stories and ideas and finding opportunities to collaborate.

If you're a researcher and feel like you could do with some advice or support in making a connection with a community group you'd like to be involved in your work or you're are a member of a community organisation, drop me a line (, we can arrange a chat.  I would love to hear from you.

Laura Steen is ParticipatoryResearch@Bath Project Officer at the University of Bath. 

Posted in: Community Engagement


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