Collaborative Futures Academy: Pause, Reflect, Engage! 22-26 November 2021


Can we push the boundaries of how we engage and who we engage with? How do we break out of our comfort zones, address historic inequities and initiate challenging conversations in challenging times?


Engaging the public with controversial issues is challenging, but important. Listening to and engaging with different views, ideas and concerns can bring real long term benefits to research and its impact on society. Researcher confidence is extremely important in fostering a successful culture of engagement and the Collaborative Futures Academy will provide the skills and confidence needed to connect with communities and to talk about difficult subjects.

This week-long masterclass will support early career researchers to develop skills, explore creative ideas for engagement, learn from experts and connect digitally with colleagues from all over the world. We will focus on building capacity and capability and providing confidential networking spaces for researchers to plan, practice and reflect. Each day will have a distinct theme, led by keynote speakers alongside workshops and discussion groups.


The Collaborative Futures Academy themes included:

  1. Equity, diversity and inclusion – where technology, thinking and language is evolving rapidly, how do we have constructive debates around subjects such as access to knowledge, gender, equality, race, ethnicity, culture and religion? What are the ethical and moral considerations we should be addressing? How do we address historic inequities in research where some voices have been excluded?

  2. Personal skills and understanding – how do we manage our own reactions and emotions to protect our mental health and prevent conflict, offense and hurt? How do we manage the responses of others? We look at key communication and psychological strategies to support a culture of positive engagement and resilience.

  3. Challenging content – we combine the expertise within the group with facilitation and training from subject specialists to learn the most effective ways of discussing the complexities and challenges of our research.

  4. Digital identity – from branding ourselves, cyber identity, data protection and privacy to risk assessments, how do we navigate and communicate in the online world?

  5. Collaboration – who are our key audiences and the professional stakeholders for our research? How do we work effectively with each group, ensuring people’s voices are heard and their perspectives, ideas and concerns understood so our work is improved and better received?


At The Collaborative Futures Academy we strove to put equity, diversity and inclusion at the heart of what we do. We welcomed applicants from culturally and ethnically diverse backgrounds, and applicants with additional needs.
We are committed to removing barriers to engagement and creating a culture of inclusion and belonging at the Academy.

Our Academy is an intensive week-long online training run in collaboration between the University of Cambridge Public Engagement team, the Wellcome Connecting Science and the Berlin School of Public Engagement and Open Science (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin).

Project team:


The Berlin School for Public Engagement and Open Science is funded by:




Can we push the boundaries of how we engage and who we engage with? How do we break out of our comfort zones, address historic inequities and initiate challenging conversations in challenging times?


Engaging the public with controversial issues is challenging, but important. Listening to and engaging with different views, ideas and concerns can bring real long term benefits to research and its impact on society. Researcher confidence is extremely important in fostering a successful culture of engagement and the Collaborative Futures Academy will provide the skills and confidence needed to connect with communities and to talk about difficult subjects.

This week-long masterclass will support early career researchers to develop skills, explore creative ideas for engagement, learn from experts and connect digitally with colleagues from all over the world. We will focus on building capacity and capability and providing confidential networking spaces for researchers to plan, practice and reflect. Each day will have a distinct theme, led by keynote speakers alongside workshops and discussion groups.


The Collaborative Futures Academy themes included:

  1. Equity, diversity and inclusion – where technology, thinking and language is evolving rapidly, how do we have constructive debates around subjects such as access to knowledge, gender, equality, race, ethnicity, culture and religion? What are the ethical and moral considerations we should be addressing? How do we address historic inequities in research where some voices have been excluded?

  2. Personal skills and understanding – how do we manage our own reactions and emotions to protect our mental health and prevent conflict, offense and hurt? How do we manage the responses of others? We look at key communication and psychological strategies to support a culture of positive engagement and resilience.

  3. Challenging content – we combine the expertise within the group with facilitation and training from subject specialists to learn the most effective ways of discussing the complexities and challenges of our research.

  4. Digital identity – from branding ourselves, cyber identity, data protection and privacy to risk assessments, how do we navigate and communicate in the online world?

  5. Collaboration – who are our key audiences and the professional stakeholders for our research? How do we work effectively with each group, ensuring people’s voices are heard and their perspectives, ideas and concerns understood so our work is improved and better received?


At The Collaborative Futures Academy we strove to put equity, diversity and inclusion at the heart of what we do. We welcomed applicants from culturally and ethnically diverse backgrounds, and applicants with additional needs.
We are committed to removing barriers to engagement and creating a culture of inclusion and belonging at the Academy.

Our Academy is an intensive week-long online training run in collaboration between the University of Cambridge Public Engagement team, the Wellcome Connecting Science and the Berlin School of Public Engagement and Open Science (Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin).

Project team:


The Berlin School for Public Engagement and Open Science is funded by:



Page last updated: 21 December 2021, 16:08