Public engagement with research


Public dialogues

Public dialogue reports

As part of informing the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) decision making and as part of being a responsible funder, we’ve hosted dialogue workshops. These gain insights into public opinions on NERC remit topics.

The reports produced provide in depth insight into public opinion and learnings from each project:

Healthy environments, diverse perspectives

From November 2020 to June 2021, NERC and UKRI funded film production company, Beard Askew and the Helix Centre (part of the Institute of Global Health Innovation) to deliver an innovative public engagement exercise to gather detailed insight into people views about healthy environments.

Due to the pandemic, it had to be solely delivered online. Access and creativity were core components of the project which in practice meant bringing different environments to life through an immersive online workshop experience.

100 community participants took part from across the UK including under-represented groups, whose voices often go unheard in research decision-making.

Summary of key insights:

  • people’s perceptions of healthy environments were linked to their unique context and past experiences. Attributes of healthy environments conflicted in some cases, such as safety from crowds of people versus quietness and natural sounds
  • for participants, an important effect of healthy environments was the promotion of mental wellbeing
  • participants wanted to see more research on how accessibility of environments can be more equitable, particularly for those with physical access needs
  • there was a desire to prioritise long-term research that considers sustainability and social equity
  • a further priority was preventing root-causes of problems like improving air quality in cities to avoid lung disease, rather than simply treating the effects
  • participants stressed the importance of community for a healthy environment and or positive environmental change. They wanted to see research and empowers communities with knowledge and encourages behaviour change.

The project is one way NERC and UKRI is looking to involve underrepresented groups in discussions about the research it funds. NERC will use the insights from this project to inform decisions about research topics it will support in the future.

Ask a question about this project



Last updated: 14 September 2023

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback.