Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Connected communities

The Connected Communities programme was a cross-council programme designed to help us understand the changing nature of communities in their historical and cultural contexts, and the role of communities in sustaining and enhancing our quality of life.

2010 to 2019
Partners involved:
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The scope and what we're doing

The Connected Communities programme sought not only to connect research on communities but to connect communities with research, bringing together community-engaged research across a number of core themes, including:

  • community health and wellbeing community creativity
  • prosperity and regeneration
  • community values and participation
  • sustainable community environments, places and spaces
  • community cultures, diversity, cohesion, exclusion and conflict.

A growing body of work under the programme explored the temporal dimension to communities, while other clusters of projects explored issues such as cultural value in community contexts and community and performance.

Another strand of research explored the potential for arts and humanities to support approaches to engagement with communities to active participants in the research process, through the creative arts and media, narratives, crafts and by enhancing consideration of issues such as ethics, power and voice.

Core themes

There were five major themes which came out of the project:

  • creative economy
  • health and wellbeing
  • community engagement
  • sustainability
  • division and disconnection.

Why we're doing it

We all belong to communities – at home, in our neighbourhoods, at work, at school, through voluntary work, through online networks, and so on. Communities are vital to our lives and wellbeing. But their importance means we need to understand their changing place in our lives, their role in encouraging health, economic prosperity and creativity, their history and their future.

Vision and overview

The vision for this programme was to mobilise the potential for increasingly interconnected, culturally diverse communities to enhance participation, prosperity, sustainability, health and wellbeing by better connecting research, stakeholders and communities.

This enhanced understanding informed the development of more effective ways to support and catalyse community cultures and behaviours that contribute towards flourishing communities and addressing key economic and societal challenges.

Engagement with communities at all stages of the research was a key feature. The programme sought to connect research expertise, knowledge, understanding, and approaches relevant to communities from across the research base to develop a more holistic understanding of community life.

Opportunities, support and resources available

Past projects, outcomes and impact


The projects also produced a wide variety of resources from reports to films.


Two consultation workshops with local government stakeholders (in partnership with the Local Authority Research Council Initiative) were held in June 2009 to help to further inform the potential remit, scope, aims and distinctive contribution of the programme.

Read the workshop report.

Connected Communities events were held from 2014 to 2017.

Who to contact

Ask for more information about the programme.


Telephone: 0117 3314289

Last updated: 17 October 2022

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