Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Engagement Fellowships Pilot: Oct 2020

The AHRC are pleased to launch a new pilot call for Fellowships aimed at arts and humanities researchers whose work is both of outstanding quality and has a significant Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) dimension.

The funding available is intended to enable researchers to engage a variety of relevant stakeholders with their research, to embed their work into policy and practice, and to work with relevant communities to realise the full potential benefits of their research.  The Fellowships will therefore be inherently impact-focused and cannot be used to conduct substantial new research.  For the purpose of this pilot call the focus is on the UK context, whilst recognising the potential cross-cultural value of internationally collaborative and connected research.

Many arts and humanities researchers working on the culture, history, literature, languages, though (and so on) of specific areas, regions and countries would consider the process and practice of engagement with stakeholder communities as a vital component of their research.  It is precisely this group of researchers that these Fellowships are aimed at, as success will depend on the ability to engage different groups with their research, work effectively within established networks and create valuable new partnerships.  The Fellowship should also aim to strengthen the disciplines, communities and institutions it is embedded within, so there will be an expectation that award holders will build in development opportunities for junior colleagues, practitioners or partners who have potential to enhance the EDI aspects of their work.

In line with the pilot nature of this call, we would be interested to receive feedback from researchers who believe they may meet the criteria for the award of a Fellowship but have been unable to apply due to eligibility requirements, or other barriers.

Applications will not be limited in scope by the nine protected characteristics recognised under the Equality Act 2010: EDI issues significantly affect groups not covered by the act (for example only, the sick; those with lower socio-economic status; other people victimised or discriminated against not on the basis of protected characteristics). Applicants will be expected to evidence and justify how any non-protected characteristic groups are affected by the issue their research project focuses on, and how any interventions would have a positive impact within that group. It is recognised that not all research into EDI must be framed by challenges or barriers, so researchers working on positive or celebratory cultures and histories are also encouraged.

This fellowship is limited to researchers working within arts and humanities disciplines. Research into history, languages, culture, heritage and creativity, or any other field in the arts and humanities, may all provide vital and distinctive insights into a range of contemporary EDI challenges, but analysis indicates that although these projects are thematically linked they can also be widely dispersed and lack effective mechanisms for sustained coordination with the communities they are working with. It is hoped that projects and researchers that fall into this category would benefit from the engagement opportunities that the fellowship would offer.

Funding will be provided for researchers who have a strong track record of integrating their research within communities, engaging stakeholders with their research and/or communicating with the public.  Therefore, in order to be eligible for this scheme, proposals need to outline how they plan to engage stakeholders such as:

  • Policymakers across the UK, including Westminster and Whitehall; Devolved Governments; Mayors and Local Government; and any relevant informal or community-based policy structures.
  • The general public; people living in recognised or informal communities, and organisations or groups affiliated with, or a part of, such communities
  • Institutions, including businesses (including but not limited to the creative industries); employers and service providers; cultural institutions (GLAM and heritage organisations etc.) and the media.
  • New disciplinary networks that have been identified as having particular potential for collaboration in the topic area.

Applicants do not need to engage with all these groups but should ensure that all stakeholders relevant to their EDI topic/s have been considered and that plans for engagement activities, tailored to the needs of the different stakeholders, are set out clearly in the application.

Applicants should note that as this fellowship is impact and engagement-focused, funding for substantial new research is not permissible. The funding is therefore limited to events, seminars, workshops, policy engagement, communication and knowledge exchange. Synthesis of existing research may be in scope where the value and relevance to the proposed programme of engagement can be clearly demonstrated. The programme of engagement should be built around existing outputs that the applicant feels would have further impact potential though a period of sustained support. Applicants who view collaborative work as part of their research process are encouraged, where it can be demonstrated that further engagement with relevant individuals and communities is central to their exploration of the topic. This fellowship cannot be used for theoretical research on particular EDI topics, groups or communities.  New research projects emerging from the fellowship should be directed to other (for example, responsive mode) funding schemes.

Proposals for funding should make clear not just which audiences they plan to engage and how they plan to do so, but how this interaction will benefit the communities they work with, their research and their discipline more widely. The planned programme of engagement  must evidence how it will advance discussions around their EDI topic, contribute to the generation of new policy initiatives or ways of doing things and otherwise enrich and strengthen the project partners and communities involved.

Applicants will need to demonstrate that they have robust existing relationships in place with the networks, platforms or partners necessary to deliver their programme of engagement. The fellowship will not provide substantial amounts of funding or time for the development of new partnerships, so it is important that the fellows clearly evidence the networks and relationships that they already have in place. For example, if an event series was dependent on the participation of an organisation such as the BBC, the UN, or specific community organisations, they would need to evidence the commitment of this partner to participate at the point of application.

The applicant’s host institution should use the fellowship as an opportunity to consolidate and solidify an ethical commitment to any community or interest groups they are partnering with as part of a wider organisational engagement strategy. The host institution will be required to set out how this commitment will stimulate additional and sustainable partnership activity and should be prepared to indicate how they will support ongoing relationships beyond the life of the fellowship.

In order to help develop further capacity in their discipline, there is an expectation for applicants to include explicit commitments to mentoring or partnership working with researchers earlier on in their careers in order to facilitate sharing of  expertise and access to relevant networks. It is hoped that this will allow researchers, practitioners and community members to hone and develop their engagement skills and cultural competency, as well as helping them to develop relationships with groups and individuals relevant to their research.

For detailed information see the below links:




Call launched

21 May 2020

Je-S forms available

15 June 2020

Deadline for submissions

17 September 2020

Panel meeting date

w/c 2 November 2020

Funding decisions to be issued

w/c 7 December 2020

Start date of awards

 Between 1 January 2021 – 1 February  2021

How to make an application

Applications should be submitted through the Je-S system by 17 September 2020, 16.00 and will need to go through the appropriate institution submission process.

You should submit your proposal using the Research Councils’ Joint electronic Submission (Je-S) System.

The Je-S submission form for this call opens on the 15 June 2020 and closes at 16.00 hours on 17 September 2020. You will not be able to submit your application form into Je-S any earlier than the 8 June or any later than 16.00 hours on 17 September 2020.

Further Information

The AHRC wants to ensure that this Fellowship does not inadvertently enforce any issues of inequality and access to funding, so the Fellow will need to be prepared to reflect and feed back on the necessary support and documentation required throughout the application process. The Fellow should also be active in monitoring the progress of their Fellowship and the impact it is having on their topic, discipline and stakeholders, and report back periodically to the AHRC with suggestions and observations.


For queries about this call such as eligible activities and costs or remit of the call please email: or tel: 01793 416060 (Monday to Friday 8:30-16:30)

For queries on using Je-S such as creating and submitting the application form or Je-S account creation, please email: or tel: 01793 444164 (Monday to Friday 08:30 – 17:00).

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