Jana Wendler

by | Feb 16, 2022

Research Associate and Course Lecturer, Geography

I do a few different things: my background is in urban geography and I have a PhD looking at the creativity and learning that happens in experimental urban spaces.

I am a Research Associate in Geography, and I work on different projects that connect academic research with the wider public. I also teach courses on experimental and creative geographies.

My second role is that of a physical game designer, and I create installations and street games that engage the public with research ideas. I recently set up my own social enterprise called Playfuel Games, and I run training sessions on game design and playful interactive engagement.

Finally, I am a co-director of STEAM Hubs & Pubs, the social enterprise behind the Old Abbey Taphouse, which is an award-winning community pub and engagement hub in the Manchester Science Park. We link up communities and institutions through arts and science events.

Public engagement highlights

I had the privilege of making games with many fantastic researchers, from immunologists to geographers to health data scientists.

We have presented those at the Manchester Science Festival, Lancashire Science Festival and bluedot, among others. It is great to see the games in action, especially when players find possibilities we had never even thought of.

It has also been wonderful to support the Old Abbey Taphouse in becoming a thriving creative space for both the University and local community, and for this work to be recognised at the Making A Difference Awards 2018.

Seeing the diversity of ideas and events people bring to this space is really inspiring.

Best public engagement advice

Good public engagement is about building relationships and collaborations – with audiences, researchers, artists, funders, events. It takes time and requires listening. Just because you put something on, it doesn’t mean people will come.

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