Royal Institution launches new five year strategy

The Royal Institution has launched its new five year strategy which includes plans for new research, development of a new national science club and open forum public policy debates.

The Royal Institution of Great Britain (Ri), home of the world famous CHRISTMAS LECTURES, is today announcing ambitious plans that will see the independent charity double in size and significantly increase its impact by 2023.

Among the new initiatives set out today are plans for the UK’s first national science club, a significant increase in the reach of the Ri’s digital presence, and a new science YouTube channel dedicated to children, to be developed over the next five years.

Members of a new Research Centre for Science and Culture, working in collaboration with other academic groups, will investigate historical and contemporary examples of the relationship between science and culture; while a new series of open forum debates will help better connect scientists, businesses and policymakers with public opinion.

In all the Ri will seek to engage people with science 100 million times, as a starting point for developing a lifelong journey with science through repeat interaction.

With research showing over half of UK adults see and hear too little about science, and widespread concern at a shortfall in the number of young people choosing to study STEM subjects after the age of 16, the Ri’s plans for growth have been developed for social impact.

And with widespread recognition by teachers that support at home is crucial to inspiring an interest in science from an early age, the Ri’s strategy meets an identified need to increase access to science, particularly for those from underserved audiences who would benefit from greater support.

Ri Director, Dr Shaun Fitzgerald FREng: “Today we are launching a new and ambitious five-year strategy to grow and have a greater impact. Our aspiration is to not only to create the scientists of tomorrow, but importantly to encourage active citizens who have the skills and confidence to critically examine science as part of an informed discussion about its benefits to society.

“Our approach is focused on a depth of engagement and is founded on research into our audiences’ needs, recognising that repeat opportunities to interact with science are more effective than one-off events however inspirational.

“We have a strong financial foundation, but as an independent charity which receives no core government funding we need additional finance to maximise our impact, particularly among children and under-served communities. By adding new supporters to our existing loyal community, we can help even more people to develop their own lifelong journey with science.”

The strategy launched today sets out a new Royal Institution vision, to inspire everyone to think more deeply about science and its place in our lives; and a new mission to build on our heritage to create opportunities for everyone to discover, discuss and critically examine science and how it shapes the world around us.

The Ri intends to increase its reach and charitable impact by meeting four core objectives to:

  • Inspire everyone to develop a lifelong journey with science
  • Increase the public’s awareness of, and participation in, the work of the Ri
  • Engage business and policymakers in discussions about the place of science in society
  • Support scientists in their efforts to engage with the public

Among the new initiatives are plans for the UK’s first national science club, to provide young people with opportunities to engage in exploration, as the start of a lifelong journey with science. As part of this, the Ri will use its experience in developing the country’s most successful science YouTube channel – with over 400,000 subscribers and 37 million video views – to launch a new channel dedicated to children.

The findings of a new Research Centre for Science and Culture will help inform best practice in the Royal Institution’s programmes, based on an investigation of historical and contemporary examples of the relationship between science and culture, providing strong empirical evidence about the nature of their mutual engagement.

Also included in the Institution’s five-year plans are the complete digitisation of its internationally significant collection of scientific apparatus, books and manuscripts; an expansion of the Young Scientist Centre concept nationally; and a new programme to create a limited number of Fellows of the Royal Institution.

The Ri is on a sustainable financial footing, following a period of financial restraint, having recently announced an operating surplus for the second year in succession. It is now seeking additional support for new initiatives to meet its charitable objective.

The Institution appointed Dr Shaun Fitzgerald as its new Director in February this year and will shortly announce the appointment of a new Director of Development, to spearhead its fundraising efforts.

The new Ri strategy, running from October 2018 to September 2023, is available to download.