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Sector-changing public engagement projects launched

NERC has awarded a total of £500,000 to six projects that will build consortia and capacity in public engagement with environmental research across the UK.


"’Engaging Environments’ is a huge step towards achieving NERC’s ambitious, long-term goals for public engagement with environmental research."

Public engagement has the power to make environmental research more relevant to society. In turn, environmental research has the potential to inform debates around the issues facing our society.

These six projects will equip the environmental research sector to deliver effective, national-scale public engagement with contemporary issues of environmental science.

Starting this month, the projects will build consortia across 15 universities, three NERC research centres, and a diverse range of partner organisations. They will use a number of approaches, including audits, scoping, networking, and training. Each will have a strong focus on high quality evaluation throughout.

NERC’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Alison Robinson, said:

“’Engaging Environments’ is a huge step towards achieving NERC’s ambitious, long-term goals for public engagement with environmental research. We are delighted to be funding such a range of innovative programmes and look forward to seeing these build bigger, better and more meaningful engagement in the enormous range of environmental topics that affect our daily lives.”

These projects have been funded through NERC’s Engaging Environments programme which follows a pilot funding call that was held late 2016.The programme aims to build a long-term, effective and innovative public engagement community.

The successful projects

The six funded projects are summarised below. Full details are available on Grants on the Web - external link.

  • OPENER, led by Dr Hilary Geoghegan at University of Reading, aims to enable ongoing active and routine engagement with environmental research by scoping out and building commitment for a national public engagement community for environmental research.
  • Climate Consortium, led by Professor Piers Forster at the University of Leeds, will put in place the national ’infrastructure’ to deliver high impact public engagement with climate change.
  • Engaging Environments Hub, led by Mr Paul Manners at the National Co-Ordinating Centre for Public Engagement, will bring all of the projects together to develop better partnership working, build common capacities and stimulate innovation.
  • BLUEPRINT, led by Mr Jon Parr at the Marine Biological Association, will use the future of our seas as an example to create a template of how to build consortia, build capacity, and how to create innovative activities in public engagement.
  • ENCOMPASS, led by Dr Carl Stevenson at the University of Birmingham, will develop an adaptable framework, focusing on how public groups can benefit from and influence environmental science.
  • Climate Stories, led by Professor Peter Stott at the University of Exeter, will develop the narrative skills of scientists and evaluate the use of storytelling as a method to engage a diverse range of community groups.

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