New British Academy-Nuffield Foundation Understanding Communities funding scheme opens for applications

26 Apr 2021

A new research and policy collaboration between the British Academy and the Nuffield Foundation, designed to identify practical solutions to support local communities in the UK, is now open for applications (below).

The Understanding Communities scheme will award at least £500,000 in research funding, with grants ranging in value from £20,000 to £200,000 for projects of up to two years.

The British Academy and the Nuffield Foundation will facilitate the development of research proposals by bringing together early- and mid-career researchers from different disciplines, national and local policymakers, and people working on the frontline of local service delivery at a virtual research and policy innovation workshop in September 2021.

Participants are encouraged to develop multidisciplinary research proposals that investigate:

  • the role of local and non-local ties in making some communities weaker, stronger, more or less equal, and more or less connected than others; and / or
  • the nature of local and / or community assets, attributes and affiliations that enhance or impede individual welfare and social well-being.

Applications from a wide range of academic disciplines and professional backgrounds are encouraged. As an example, applicants from a policy and delivery background may be working within government or the private or voluntary sectors at local, regional or national level. They might be responsible for policy or involved in the direct delivery of services within local communities. Those with a research background may be based in universities, research institutes, think tanks or voluntary organisations.

Professor Ash Amin, Co-Chair of the Understanding Communities collaboration, Trustee of the Nuffield Foundation and Fellow of the British Academy, said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly exacerbated inequalities, highlighting the plight of communities and their potential to secure wellbeing. As well as markets and policies, the qualities of communities - local and dispersed - also seem to have played their part in increasing or mitigating inequality. What makes some communities stronger, more equal, and more connected than others? Why are some communities particularly vulnerable and disadvantaged? And how can we use understanding of these issues to reinforce local and community wellbeing? This timely collaboration between the British Academy and the Nuffield Foundation aims to inform policy and practice on whether communities can contribute to improve social wellbeing across the United Kingdom.”

Professor Dominic Abrams, Co-Chair of the Understanding Communities collaboration and Fellow of the British Academy, said:

“Building on the British Academy’s longstanding work on cohesion and integration, it is very exciting to be collaborating with the Nuffield Foundation to inspire a new and distinctive programme of research in this vital area. The decade ahead will continue to pose significant challenges and may involve rapid societal change. Understanding how communities work and may create or impede social wellbeing is a key part of creating a fair, inclusive and successful modern economy.”

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