Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Research the hidden histories of environmental science

Apply for funding to research how UK environmental science can learn from the past.

You will consider colonial history and different cultural perceptions.

Your project team must include:

  • at least one eligible arts and humanities researcher
  • at least one eligible environmental science researcher.

The project must work with at least one community group or non-academic organisation.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £125,000. AHRC and NERC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Your project can last up to 15 months. It must start by 4 January 2022.

Who can apply

The proposal must:

  • include at least one arts and humanities researcher eligible for UKRI funding and working in AHRC disciplines
  • include at least one environmental science researcher eligible for UKRI funding and working in NERC’s remit
  • engage with at least one community group or non-academic organisation.

The organisations you engage with could be, for example:

  • museums
  • galleries
  • local archives
  • arts and heritage based organisations
  • community-led or grass root organisations
  • learned societies
  • environment and diversity groups
  • social enterprises
  • local authorities
  • commercial companies providing a public service.

Eligible applicants may act as principal investigator on no more than one proposal. However, applicants may be involved as co-investigators or collaborators on any number of other applications as appropriate (provided that the proposed commitments could be delivered if the applications were to be successful).

Applicants do not have to be in receipt of any Hidden Histories partnership seed funding or have attended the consultation event to be eligible for this opportunity.
Unless otherwise stated, the eligibility criteria as published in section 2 of the AHRC Research funding guide will apply.

What we're looking for


Your project must meet the aims listed below.


You must explore:

  • the key issues around colonial and other history, exclusion and social injustice in the context of the environmental science research sector in the UK (with an emphasis on British colonial history from the 18th century onwards)
  • how this relates to present cultures and issues including around race, racism and representation and intersectionality within the UK.

Provide specific, in depth examples

You must:

  • provide specific, in-depth examples of key people, places or issues in the colonial past of environmental science research
  • explore how key people, places or issues are affected in the present situation
    compare environmental science with other research disciplines.

This could include, but is not limited to:

  • cultural perceptions and values associated with environment and environmental science
  • factors affecting contact with and access to natural environment and natural history
    participation in nature-based activity
  • distribution of ethnic diversity in the environment sector.


You must partner with relevant people throughout the research, identifying opportunities to collaborate, actively influence or consult to ensure the widest possible impact.

Key communities and stakeholders of this programme include (but are not limited to):

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

Provide practical recommendations

You must:

  • provide practical recommendations, as relevant, to UKRI, AHRC, NERC and the UK environmental science sector as these emerge, as relevant from the research, considering how to be responsive to society’s evolving moral outlooks and attitudes
  • provide insight into future plans to explore the culture of environmental science as an environmental challenge
  • explore how UKRI provides leadership in the sector and supports researchers to consider their responsibilities as recipients of public funding.

Other requirements

Applicants should also consider the following attributes and criteria, which will form part of the independent panel assessment discussions when addressing the aims above.

Cross-disciplinary research

Proposals must involve cross-disciplinary research teams, including arts and humanities research expertise and environmental science research expertise.

The cross-disciplinary research teams must plan and build a collaborative partnership, ensuring that principles and best practice of interdisciplinary working are adopted from the outset, allowing for the development of truly collaborative partnerships.

Support early career researchers

How is the proposed project supporting the development of early career researchers (ECRs)? Proposals led by or including ECRs are strongly encouraged and any principal investigators (PIs) who are ECRs will be assessed against their relative experience.


We are particularly interested in receiving applications from researchers and practitioners from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds, including those from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds.

UK context

Whilst proposals are welcomed to include voices, histories and experiences from former British colonies and other diverse backgrounds, the proposals must link to the present-day UK context and provide practical recommendations, for example:

  • best practice guidance
  • policy recommendations
  • peer learning which can be taken forward in academic, community and professional contexts, including within UKRI .

Community and non-academic support

Proposals are required to be co-created with community groups or non-academic organisations.

For example, applicants may engage with:

  • museums
  • galleries
  • local archives
  • arts and heritage based organisations
  • community-led
  • grass root organisations
  • learned societies
  • environment and diversity groups
  • social enterprises
  • local authorities.

Partnerships with community groups or non-academic organisations must be:

  • equitable, ethical and mutually nurturing
  • manage risks in-line with best practice, such as that highlighted in the Creating Living Knowledge report

The structure of the partnership should be governed in an inclusive way.

It is expected that the community groups or non-academic organisations will be remunerated fairly and in a timescale that will not force any undue hardship. Any partnerships should be premised on leaving that organisation in a stronger position than before the collaboration.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

As well as the key legal requirements, applicants must consider how they will address specific issues related to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), in-line with UKRI’s EDI approach.

Ethics, health, safety and child protection

Proposals are required to follow their institution’s ethical review process, health and safety, and child protection policies.

Environmental sustainability

Proposals should consider the environmental sustainability of the project and the environmental choices made (such as taking flights for the project), in line with NERC’s current responsibility approach.

Funding available

Research proposals should be submitted up to a maximum value of £125,000 (at 100% full economic cost) with UKRI’s contribution being £100,000 (at 80% full economic cost) per project.

Projects should have a start date of no later than 4 January 2022 and be between 12 and 15 months in duration. Projects must be completed by 31 March 2023.

Eligible costs

You should design your proposal in a way that best addresses the aims of the project. Eligible costs for UKRI funding are outlined in the AHRC Research Funding Guide.

Additional guidance specific to this opportunity is listed below.

Community partner costs

Costs associated with community partners’ involvement in the project should be included under ‘other directly incurred costs’ as exceptions and charged at 100% full economic cost if they are not eligible to receive UKRI funding as a research organisation or independent research organisation.

These costs cannot exceed 30% of the total funds requested at 100% full economic cost.

Funding is available for any activity that is directly related to the research project being proposed. This can include activity undertaken or delivered by community partners, but only where this is clearly related to the delivery of the research project. Funding is not available for community partners to continue to deliver their core business, and funds cannot be used outside the dates of the award itself. Requested costs must be detailed in the justification of resources.

International costs

For funding opportunities launched after 1 July 2021, UKRI are changing how international costs should be included in applications.

These costs cannot exceed 30% of the total funds requested at 100% full economic cost.

To enable UKRI to meet reporting requirements, all overseas costs incurred by non-UK organisations must be entered into the ‘other directly incurred’ costs using the following format.

In the description box you should enter – ‘organisation, country, cost category, cost description’.

The cost categories for this are as follows:

  • staff
  • other directly incurred costs
  • indirect costs
  • travel and subsistence
  • equipment.

For more information on the scope and costs, see the full guidance document (PDF, 276KB)

How to apply

A full application should be submitted through the Je-S system by 16:00 at the latest on Tuesday 5 October 2021 (UK time) and will need to go through the appropriate host higher education institution or independent research organisation submission process.

You should submit your proposal using the Joint electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

To prepare a proposal form in Je-S, log in to your account and choose ‘documents’ from the menu. Then select ‘new document’ and:

  • council: AHRC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: development grants
  • call/type/mode: AHRC NERC Hidden Histories call 5 October 2021

Select ‘create document’ and Je-S will then create a proposal form for you to fill in.
Please remember to allow sufficient time for your host higher education institutions or independent research organisation submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the funding opportunity closing date.

Projects should have a start date of no later than 4 January 2022 and must be completed by 31 March 2023.

Please also note that your application must have an AHRC primary classification as part of the Je-S application form. A list of eligible primary classifications can be found on page 89 of the current research funding guide.

How we will assess your application

Applications submitted under this funding opportunity will be assessed on the basis of their quality and individual merits, according to standard scheme criteria, in addition to the further criteria stated above.

The assessment process for this call will principally follow AHRC’s standard process for assessing research grants as laid out in section 5 of the AHRC research funding guide (see assessment headings listed below) with specific consideration to the funding opportunity specific aims and additional criteria laid out in the full guidance document (PDF, 276KB). All criteria are equally weighted:

  • quality and importance
  • people
  • management of the project
  • data management
  • value for money
  • outputs, dissemination and impact.

Applications under the funding opportunity will be considered by a specially convened assessment panel, drawing on both the AHRC and NERC Peer Review College strategic reviewers’ group along with additional panel members with expertise of relevance to the focus of this opportunity.

Applications will be assessed directly at the panel meeting, there will be no separate peer-review stage. As such there will be no PI response stage for applications under this opportunity and we regret that there will be no reviewers’ comments for feedback.

Following recommendations made by the assessment panel, final funding decisions will rest with the respective senior management teams of the AHRC and NERC.

Funding decisions will be communicated by late November 2021.

Contact details

Ask a question about this funding opportunity

AHRC enquiries team


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’.

Please see the Hidden Histories webpage for further background on the programme.

Supporting documents

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