Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Hidden histories of environmental science: partnership seed fund

Apply for funding to help form a new interdisciplinary partnership. You must plan to apply to the upcoming main funding opportunity, ‘Hidden histories of environmental science: Acknowledging legacies of race, social injustice and exclusion to inform the future’.

The principal investigator must be eligible for UKRI funding.

Your proposed collaboration must include researchers from both AHRC disciplines and NERC’s remit.

The partnership team may also include:

  • other academic researchers from any discipline
  • researchers outside academia
  • members of the public or public-facing groups.

You do not need to apply for this funding to apply for the main ‘Hidden histories’ funding opportunity.

Who can apply

The collaborative partnership team must include:

  • at least one arts and humanities or economic and social researcher currently or previously working in AHRC disciplines
  • at least one researcher currently or previously working in NERC’s remit
  • these two people must be must either be past or present UKRI (including AHRC and NERC) grant holders, or a potential future grant holder in that they must meet UKRI eligibility rules.

The collaborative partnership team may include others across academic disciplines beyond AHRC or NERC’s remit, outside academia, members of the public or public-facing groups. This could include:

  • other researchers across academic disciplines, or fields outside academia
  • practitioners
  • equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and access specialists
  • interdisciplinary specialist
  • environmental science sector (including stakeholders in business, third sector, government)
  • engagement and impact specialists, including university public engagement departments
  • community organisations, publics or public-facing groups (for example, learned societies, environment and diversity groups, charity members, community groups, local authorities, commercial companies providing a public service) or a combination of these.

Costs for the involvement of these groups may be covered.

When submitting proposals the principal investigator (PI) of this call must meet UKRI eligibility rules. Proposals should be submitted by the PI, but should be co-created with input from all of the partners.

Check if you are eligible for UKRI funding.

Applicants to this call may submit only one proposal as the PI.

We are particularly interested in receiving applications to this partnership seed fund opportunity and the main funding opportunity from researchers and practitioners from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds, including those from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds.

What we're looking for

The partnership seed funding aims to support applicants to plan, build and sustain collaborative partnerships required to deliver the objectives of the main ‘Hidden histories’ funding opportunity.

The projects should plan to meet the following objectives:

  • plan and build a collaborative partnership in order to prepare to potentially bid for the main ‘Hidden histories’ funding opportunity
  • ensure that principles and best practice of interdisciplinary working are adopted from the outset, allowing for the development of truly collaborative partnerships which will provide solutions to the complex challenges of ‘Hidden histories’
  • sustain partnerships, where relevant, to develop relationships across communities of researchers, potentially leading to innovative future proposals bringing the disciplines together, and may also enable equitable participation of those outside of academia in developing research.

Applicants planning to involve those outside of academia, such as public and community groups, must build equitable, ethical partnerships, managing risks in-line with best practice, such as that highlighted in the Creating Living Knowledge report.

Scope of main ‘Hidden histories’ funding opportunity

The emerging funding opportunity is planning to consider the following questions (to be confirmed following consultation with an independent advisory group).

To what extent has colonial and other history, exclusion and social injustice influenced how the UK environmental science research sector presents cultures and issues, including around race, racism and representation and intersectionality?

How do key people, places or issues in the British colonial past of environmental science research compare with those shaped by present-day cultural sensitivities and expectations?

How can engagement with relevant people throughout the research improve projects for mutual benefits, which may include identifying opportunities to actively influence, consult and/or collaborate? Key communities and stakeholders of this programme include (but are not limited to):

  • environmental science sector
  • higher education institutions
  • environmental science researchers
  • UKRI (including AHRC and NERC)
  • policy
  • third sector, non-governmental organisations and public groups.

Are there practical recommendations that UKRI, NERC and the UK environmental science sector might more broadly consider in order to respond to society’s evolving outlooks and attitudes, in line with delivering NERC’s responsible business statement?

Going forward, how can we avoid repeating mistakes and/or can repair legacies of injustices to ensure environmental science in the UK is more open and diverse in the future?

Find out more about the AHRC and NERC Hidden histories programme.

Applicants to the main funding opportunity do not need to have received funding from the partnership call nor to have attended the event to apply.


Proposals should consider the sustainability of the project, in line with NERC’s current sustainability approach: “sustainability for NERC is all about creating and nurturing an environment and culture in which social, economic and environmental responsibility is embedded, balancing the needs of the NERC community and our stakeholders, including immediate needs and those of future generations.”

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

As well as the key legal requirements, applicants should consider how they will address specific needs related to EDI, in-line with NERC’s EDI approach.

Funding available

Proposals can include fully justified direct costs incurred in delivering the project. This may include, for example:

  • 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), sub-contracting of services, or enabling public or community partners to take part)
  • non-staff resources (including cost of materials, travel and subsistence, meetings and events, consumables, materials and equipment, and evaluation costs)
  • the funding of expenses, an honorarium for time, child care and other costs to allow for participation of those outside of academia such, as public communities, and training to build the capacity of these groups to take a confident and active role in the partnership and research activities.

This call is funded outside of full economic costing (fEC) rules.

Costs not covered

The budget and costings must be based on valid estimates. Funding will not be provided for:

  • estates and indirect 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 proposal
  • academic courses such as Master’s degrees or PhDs, and other tuition fees.

How to apply

Proposals must be submitted to Hannah King by emailing by 16:00 Wednesday 12 May 2021.

AHRC and NERC will accept one side of A4 setting out your plans and detailing where they would meet the programme objectives, and must include the following information:

  • overview information (full name, job role, organisation and department, email, phone number of PI and full name and organisation of all co-applicants)
  • partnership title (maximum 30 words)
  • summary of planned partnership
  • objectives: describe the project objectives and how these will meet the programme aims and objectives
  • management and planning: outline a plan for the approach and methods of project delivery. Please describe briefly how those involved have relevant knowledge and experience to deliver
  • total funding requested.

This proposal must not exceed one side of A4, and must be completed in single-spaced typescript of minimum font size 11 point (Arial or other sans serif typeface of equivalent size to Arial 11), with margins of at least 2cm. Please note that Arial narrow, Calibri and Times New Roman are not allowable font types. Any proposal which has used these font types within their submission will be rejected.

References and footnotes should also be at least 11 point font and should be in the same font type as the rest of the document. Headers and footers should not be used for references or information relating to the scientific case. Any other documents will not be considered.

The process to award these grants will be as follows:

  1. A purchase order will be raised, and a purchase order number will be shared.
  2. The grant will be paid by invoice (which must include the purchase order number, site address, UKRI’s address and a unique invoice number).

AHRC and NERC will require final project expenditure in line with proposed costs.

Information relating to proposals may be shared, on a confidential basis, across UKRI councils.

Disbursement of funds

Funds will be transferred to the successful PI’s research organisation in the first instance. It is then the responsibility of that institution to disburse funds to the costed members of the partnership team.

The UK research organisation awarded the grant is responsible for the conduct and administration of the grant. It is accountable for the effective use of public funds, and must therefore ensure that all grant monies are subject to proper financial management processes.

It is the research organisation’s responsibility to ensure that expenditure on collaborations is subject to robust controls to ensure value for money and propriety and that all costs should be fully vouched and maintained for possible inspection and checks by, or on behalf of, UKRI.

How we will assess your application

Proposals will be assessed by a panel of UKRI staff, who will come to a consensus in deciding which proposals are successful. Applicants may be asked for more information before a grant is confirmed as successful.

Proposals will be assessed on their potential to achieve the three objectives listed in the ‘What we’re looking for’ section.

Assessors will also check value for money, that is, are the resources requested appropriate and reasonable.

Panel feedback will be provided by AHRC and NERC to both successful and unsuccessful applicants.

AHRC and NERC reserve the right not to fund up to the limit allocated to the call and to make changes to the budgetary limits of the successful grants.

Contact details

Tim Pank, AHRC

Hannah King, NERC

Additional info

The full title of the programme is ‘Hidden histories of environmental science: acknowledging legacies of race, social injustice and exclusion to inform the future’.

Find full details of the AHRC and NERC Hidden histories programme.

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