Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Hidden histories programme

The aim of this programme – Hidden histories of environmental science: acknowledging legacies of race, social injustice and exclusion to inform the future – is to gain a better understanding of how the future of modern environmental science can be informed by the past.

£500,000 for the programme
Research projects run from 4 January 2022 to 31 March 2023
Partners involved:
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

The scope and what we're doing

AHRC and NERC are co-funding a programme called Hidden histories of environmental science: acknowledging legacies of race, social injustice and exclusion to inform the future.

The programme will take an interdisciplinary approach bringing together teams including environmental scientists, arts, humanities, economic and social science researchers, practitioners and community groups to form substantial research collaborations.

These collaborations will seek to understand and acknowledge how the future of modern environmental science can be informed by the past, in particular the relationship between the sector and its underpinning colonial history, and how different cultural perceptions of environmental science can be incorporated today.

As a result, a greater understanding of the legacies of race, social injustice and exclusion can inform plans and practical actions of AHRC, NERC and the environmental science community. This evidence can help inform potential responses to society’s evolving outlooks and attitudes, in line with delivering NERC’s responsible business statement.

Opportunities, support and resources available

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Past funding opportunities

Hidden histories of environmental science: partnership seed fund.

Past awards

The successful projects in the partnership seed fund opportunity were:

  • The hidden environmental histories of the River Clyde (University of Glasgow, Ria Dunkley)
  • Legacies of empire and enslavement in university natural history museums and collections (University of Cambridge, Rebecca Kilner)
  • African natural history – whose stories? (Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, Trevor Bailey)
  • Uncovering hidden histories of trade, enslavement and environmental science through Liverpool (University of Liverpool, Cristina García)
  • Bias in the fossil record: how the historical development of palaeontology has influenced inequity and lack of diversity in current palaeontology and allied sciences (University of Leeds, Fiona Gill)
  • Revealing Bradford: revealing Bradford’s hidden environmental histories and community perceptions; watercourses, green space and implications for urban regeneration (University of Bradford, Jill Thompson)
  • Hidden histories of inequality and resilience among UK Muslim environmental scientists (University of Exeter, Catriona McKinnon)
  • Unravelling the hidden histories of environmental (mis)management and indigenous dispossession in Borneo: re-centring native knowledge and local politics in nature and cultural conservation (University of Leicester, Yunci Cai)
  • Documenting the contribution of indigenous and enslaved knowledge regarding plant uses to the development of the St Vincent Botanical Garden led by Dr Alexander Anderson (died 1811) (University of Winchester, Christina Welch)
  • Generous domains: global citizenship perspectives for environmental sciences (Manchester Metropolitan University, Valeria Vargas)
  • The land can talk: co-producing a framework for embedding traditional and indigenous ecological knowledge in palaeoenvironmental and historical climate reconstruction (University of Exeter, Thomas Roland)
  • CoLeGen: exploring the colonial legacies of UK geoscience in Africa (Loughborough University, Pete Yeandle).

Who to contact

Advisory group

Jessica Pollitt


Event, partnership seed funding opportunities

Hannah King


Main research funding opportunities

Tim Pank


Last updated: 28 April 2023

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