NERC Growing Roots: Environmental Science Public Engagement

Closing Date: 27/03/2023

Support for projects within the NERC remit that seek to engage the public with environmental science.

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Growing Roots: Environmental Science Public Engagement scheme offers funding to explore and trial approaches for engaging the public with environmental science. The environmental science research topic must be within NERC remit.

This opportunity aims to support environmental scientists at a variety of career stages to bridge the gap of their public engagement goals and is designed to:

  • Be flexible, practical and easy to access for a broad range of people. This includes environmental science researchers at all stages of their careers, public engagement professionals, and individuals and groups outside of academia.
  • Ensure partners outside of academia are treated equitably and in ways that work for them.
  • Provide opportunities for researchers with limited public engagement experience, including PhD students and early career researchers, to learn by conducting public engagement with environmental science research.

Projects must have a clear purpose that meets at least one of the following objectives:

  • Trialling a novel approach: Exploring or experimenting with public engagement approaches, before learning from or applying these to future research. Examples include:
    • Exploring opportunities in participatory approaches to environmental science research (eg co-production) and ensuring people are renumerated for their expenses and time. This could involve a range of activities that precede a research project, including listening to community needs, building relationships and trust, finding mutually beneficial goals and planning how to enable communities to participate in ways that work for them. Partnerships may then go on to apply for further research funding
    • Developing an approach to engage under-represented groups and communities with environmental science research.
    • Tackling barriers to engagement with environmental science research, including ethics, interdisciplinary working, issues of equality, diversity and inclusion, or leadership.
    • Addressing a gap, either within an organisational context or more broadly.
  • Bringing people together: Bringing together individuals, groups or organisations to either build on existing relationships or develop new ones. This could be to collaborate or to build knowledge, skills and confidence in different ways, such as mentoring, coaching and training. Examples include:
    • People within academia: Bringing together groups doing a particular type of public engagement, such as citizen scientists, people from across disciplines, researchers with different levels of public engagement experience and researchers with public engagement professionals.
    • Groups or individuals outside of academia: Researchers with a local community/public groups, researchers connecting with artists, gaining insight into current or potential partners, individuals and organisations, and how they might help shape environmental science research.
  • Learning by doing: Build knowledge, skills and confidence by taking part in or leading a high-quality, purposeful public engagement activity with environmental science research, thereby providing a space for failure, mistakes and progress. For example, a researcher with limited experience could run a small public engagement with environmental science research project.
  • Responding to new opportunities to engage the public with environmental science: Creating public engagement with environmental science projects that directly respond to a change that was not available or apparent when any current research funding was awarded. For example, responding to a new local residence forum on an environmental science topic, policy change, a new scientific or policy report being published, a broad change in public opinion, public attention on a topic due to a TV programme, social media or another source.

The application does not have to be a full engagement project, with planning, delivery, and evaluation where relevant. Funded projects could precede a more mature approach to public engagement, which can be requested as part of other larger funding opportunities.

If there are public engagement activities within the project, they must include engagement that uses a two-way process that involves interaction, listening and the aim of generating mutual benefit. Public engagement must include high-quality plans with a clear purpose, and identified audience, outcomes and impacts.

Applicants planning to involve those outside of academia in the delivery of the projects must consider their approach in building equitable, ethical partnerships and managing risks in line with best practice. Individuals or organisations that collaborate on the grant must also be appropriately compensated.

Eengagement must focus on the UK public. If international engagement is a by-product of the core engagement then this is acceptable. However, a project where all or most of the engagement is international is not suitable for funding.

Funding body Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Maximum value £10,000
Reference ID S24737
Category Natural Environment
Fund or call Fund