An innovative project that will see researchers collaborate with diverse communities on issues in environmental science has been awarded £1·3 million through NERC's Engaging Environments programme. The award is NERC's largest single investment in public engagement, with project partners pledging a further £235,000 of in-kind contributions.
The NERC Community for Engaging Environments project aims to engage a broad range of audiences, including those typically less represented in public engagement activities. The project takes an innovative approach that combines community development, storytelling and citizen science, enabling diverse communities to have a meaningful stake in discussing and tackling environmental science issues such as climate change and pollution.
It aims to create lasting change in public engagement practice by providing learning opportunities while shaping future activities to equip NERC's research community and diverse communities with essential skills in public leadership.
The award is part of the NERC Engaging Environments programme, which supports ambitious projects to engage the UK public with contemporary environmental science issues on a national scale. The first stage of Engaging Environments awarded £500,000 to six projects in 2017 to build a long-term, effective and innovative public engagement community across the UK.
Building on this success, Stage 2 invited collaborative teams formed in the first stage to bid for funding for a single, large-scale project. This new phase combines the expertise from two of these projects, which built capacity and consulted around the UK - including Salford, Birmingham and Newcastle - on what a national project might entail.
The Stage 2 project is led by the University of Reading, in partnership with the University of Birmingham, University College London, the University of Salford, The University of Manchester, Newcastle University, and the organisations Earthwatch, Tekiu, and Citizens UK. A further 25 partners, including the Woodland Trust, the Natural History Museum and open science portal Figshare, will also contribute to the project.