This is the second round of NERC’s annual public engagement funding opportunity, which aims to support public engagement with environmental science research.
Projects must be delivered between 25 July 2022 and 28 February 2023.
Awards can range between £5,000 to £10,000 per project. These awards are designed to allow individuals or organisations to trial public engagement projects, which could be innovative in their way of delivery, public audiences they engage or subject area focus.
Projects can be planned and delivered as a ‘proof of concept’, and, or, be a small public engagement activity or event with carefully planned outputs and intentions. All proposed projects are expected to be designed proportionately, within the stated timescales and with financial support available.
We hope that successful grant holders may go on to develop the projects further, including accessing other funding.
Types of projects
Through this funding opportunity, we aim to fund a diverse portfolio of projects which deliver or facilitate excellent public engagement with environmental science research. Aligning to the NERC public engagement with research and innovation strategy 2020 to 2025, we are aiming to increase the diversity of projects funded.
For this opportunity, we are interested in funding a portfolio of projects that:
- have diverse delivery teams
- engage with diverse audiences
- address diverse topics
- take place in a wide range of diverse locations across the UK
- engage audiences at a local and national level
- use a range of multidisciplinary approaches including from the social sciences, engineering and the arts
- engage the public in diverse and innovative ways with environmental science.
Applications must meet a minimum of two of the following objectives, meeting a minimum of one objective from section one, then a second objective from either section one or two.
Convene public debate, with contemporary issues
Successful projects in this area will enable NERC remit science to be shared and debated with confidence, as well as enabling public audiences to relate environmental science to their daily lives and decision-making, through sharing relevant and beneficial evidence.
The convening of environmental science debates could take place on a local or national scale and may include multidisciplinary approaches.
Funded projects should provide insight into current public debates and consider the role of research within these.
Build capacity of researchers to engage with the public
Successful projects will provide environmental researchers with the skills to engage with a variety of public audiences about their research and increase its impact.
It is also important to build researchers’ capacity to deliver innovative and effective public engagement that’s instinctively built into their research.
For example, providing training and resources to develop research skills in improving the quality and reach of their public engagement, building networks and being able to evaluate their public engagement to an excellent level.
Inspire public audiences with environmental science
Successful projects will inspire audiences to enjoy, contribute, question and critically think about environmental science research.
These projects will make engagement activities accessible and seek to attract a diversity of people to contribute to environmental science or consider potential careers in environmental science.
For example, by working in partnerships to identify and support engagement that specifically identifies and targets communities and other groups of people that aren’t already inspired by environmental science, with considerations to issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Engage the public with environmental science where new opportunities have arisen
Successful projects will seek to make the most of new emerging public engagement opportunities, which have not previously been available.
For example, a new engagement opportunity has arisen to convene public debate around the outcomes of a research project, which was not apparent when the funding bid for the research grant was made.
Trial innovative public engagement with environmental science approaches
Successful projects will include methods that may be novel in the environmental sciences or with particular partners or public groups.
This novel method could include public groups leading the project instead of members of the academic community.
For example, using public engagement methodologies from other disciplines or sectors that are rarely used in environmental science, or new and exciting activities which may be considered ‘too risky’ or an ‘untraditional’ method of public engagement that may not receive funding from elsewhere.
Leadership activities in public engagement with environmental science
Successful projects will assist in raising the profile of public engagement within your organisation and more broadly, for instance, into the local community or identified public groups.
For example, this grant could cover staff time for leadership activities, setting up a mentoring scheme, or planning and delivering environmental science-focused public engagement training at your university, organisation or within the community.
All projects must align the delivery to contribute to the NERC responsible business statement, and more specifically, you should consider how to adopt responsible practices through your public engagement activities to reduce or enhance benefits on the environment and society.
NERC reserves the right to withhold funds for projects which are deemed to not adopt or contradict the responsible business statement and ways of working.
If selected, you will be asked to complete an equality impact assessment report (EIA) for your project, which must be completed and approved by NERC before the project commences.
NERC will require evaluation of projects and the collection of data for reporting purposes, as we are interested in sharing learning from our investments.
Funded projects will be required to contribute towards the following:
A grant meeting in person (week commencing 12 September 2022)
Before this meeting, a short evaluation survey of no more than one side of A4 will need to be completed. Please ensure if you intend to attend in person, this is costed into your project funding.
A project summary and evaluation talk, virtually (week commencing 6 February 2023)
Each project will prepare a five-minute presentation around the evaluation topics.
Final specific project evaluation (after project completion)
The guidance and template will be provided by NERC. These evaluation reports are around four pages of A4 and will require qualitative and quantitative evaluation.
We expect you to complete a proportional level of evaluation for your project, which could include further evaluation, in addition to the above requirements.
We strongly welcome applicants, where possible, to secure additional leveraged funding as part of their submission from appropriate sources. Applicants must clearly state the source and amount of any existing leveraged funding (in-kind or cash) within their budgets outlined in their application form.
Application requirements include:
- the content of applications must have a focus on a specific NERC-remit environmental science research area (please see the NERC delivery plan (PDF, 2.5MB) and NERC remit for more information). Broader public engagement activities which focus on generalised science are not acceptable
- the public engagement activities must have a clear purpose (National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement), with intended outcomes and impacts, where researchers consider their responsibilities in line with NERC’s responsibility approach. The impact may focus upon society, culture or the environment, or any other area of impact as described by the Research Excellence Framework
- the audience (National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement) for the engagement should be carefully considered and specified, and reasons for engagement justified using evidence
- applicants planning to involve those outside of academia in the delivery of the projects (for example, co-design approaches) must consider their approach in building equitable, ethical partnerships and managing risks in line with best practice, such as that highlighted in the Creating Living Knowledge report (Connected Communities). Please ensure that you are appropriately compensating any individuals or organisations that collaborate on your grant
- this is a public engagement funding opportunity, so there must also be demonstrable benefits to members of the public as well as to research or researchers
- engagement must focus on the UK public. If international engagement is a by-product of the core engagement, this would be deemed accepted. However, a project where all or most of the engagement was international would be unacceptable and not suitable for funding
- applications will need to consider the potential ongoing impacts of coronavirus, including impact on supply chains, adhering to any changing government guidance, for example. Projects are required to have a coronavirus contingency plan.
Applications can include fully justified, direct costs, incurred in delivering the project. The budget and costings must be based on valid estimates.
Funding requests may include:
- staff resources including administration and coordination, contributions to salaries (where a named individual will undertake work that would not be considered part of their normal duties as set out by their employer), sub-contracting of services, and funding that would enable public or community partners to take part-non-staff resources including the cost of materials, travel and subsistence, meetings, events, consumables, materials, equipment, and evaluation costs. Travel and subsistence costs should adhere to UKRI’s travel and subsistence policy (PDF, 162KB).
- the costs of additional childcare, beyond that required to meet the normal contracted requirements of the job, and that cover time directly related to the project. This may be requested as a directly incurred cost. However, childcare costs associated with normal working patterns may not be sought.
What will not be funded
Funding will not be provided for:
- directly allocated costs or indirect costs
- estates and in-direct costs
- fees or honoraria to people already in paid employment to deliver activities where such activities would reasonably be undertaken as part of their normal duties
- retrospective funding, including those projects with a start date after the closing date but before the funding decisions are announced
- infrastructure or building costs
- expenses incurred submitting the application
- academic courses such as master’s degrees or PhDs, and other tuition fees.
Project budgets must be designed to take into consideration the following:
- public groups may not be charged an entrance fee to engage
- prize money may not be given to winners in competitions.