Fuelled by Coffee

A little explanation …

When I was dreaming up a name for this blog I decided on ‘fuelled by coffee’ as basically that is what keeps me going sometimes.

I never drank coffee until I was pregnant with my first new life form, and then, for some reason, as my body weight increased I moved from tea with milk and sugar to coffee with milk and sugar (with seeded batch loaf + butter and marmalade) as my breakfast of choice. It was always good quality, but instant. A few years ago I discovered the joys of fresh coffee and had many a delicious blend from Pact Coffee poured over my V60 – but still with milk and sugar.

And then I met The Italian. I now drink espresso, cappuccino, or cortado made with a mokka or (for convenience) ESE coffee pods (for the environment). No instant coffee ever passes my lips.

However, beyond my studies being fuelled by coffee, my role within the university can also be considered as fuelled by coffee.

Thinking about engagement – there’s a lot around public engagement, which is mostly disseminating research to be honest, and we talk about knowledge exchange which is using what we have researched and sharing it in a more directed way. But the engagement I am talking about is a slightly different concept. It’s about the fact that we like/need to work with communities and organisations and we need to build the trust first before we need their ‘help’ but this isn’t only about sharing some knowledge or disseminating research. It’s about building the relationship through talking to them, getting to know their challenges and needs, understanding their motivations.

This is about sharing information, relevant information, in a more informal way, it’s about sharing our expertise with them at little or no cost so that they can see the benefits of working with us, engaging with us, collaborating with us, knowing they can trust us. It’s about before and after the project, it’s about what happens when a researcher moves on to another project, or even another institution.

Pre-covid my work was to go out into communities and organisations and talk to people, get to know them, share a coffee and cake with them. During covid everything changed and I am just getting back into this routine of meeting people face to face, chatting over coffee, listening to understand their challenges, thinking how we as a university, as researchers, can truly collaborate in order to make the world a better place.

How we do this? Is there account taken of the unseen work that PS engagement staff and others do to earn trust, to talk with the relevant people, build relationships one coffee at a time?