Wellcome is a politically and financially independent organisation that funds science and health research around the world. Wellcome works with some of the best international researchers tackling key problems in Neuroscience and Mental Health (NMH), and as part of a review of their portfolio, it wanted to understand what mattered to the public. Wellcome commissioned Ipsos MORI to carry out a series of dialogue workshops, aimed at helping the organisation develop its portfolio on NMH research and improving the organisation’s means of public engagement.
While the public tend to regard the advancement of science positively and recognise the value of science research, people know very little about how research is funded or how it works. The complexity of science research can overwhelm people who feel the decision making is better left to experts, and so this dialogue was delivered in an accessible way that helped people understand. This ensured for meaningful engagement and allowed participants to enthusiastically grapple with difficult issues in neuroscience, offering insight and reflection on their priorities and principles.
We are hopeful that the model of working, the techniques we employed, and this report, will be of use to other areas of research supported by Wellcome and to other organisations grappling with how to engage the public in decision making.
As part of the final wrap-up exercise, participants were asked to reflect on the entire dialogue and public engagement more widely. This image was drawn up to capture the participant’s thoughts and overall involvement by the illustrators that were present at the summit.