SHAPE Impact Projects support new applied research in sustainability

24 Nov 2021

The British Academy and Students Organising for Sustainability UK (SOS-UK) today announce that student groups from six UK universities will participate in the next phase of the collaborative SHAPE Impact Projects.

Launched in 2020, the SHAPE Impact Projects aim to engage students and academics across SHAPE disciplines (Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts for People and the Economy) in realising the relevance and impact of their subjects in tackling environmental, social and economic sustainability challenges. The first phase involved student groups at Bangor University, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of East Anglia.

Outcomes from the first phase of the project include:

  • A fundraising campaign which led to more support for sustainable energy use at Treborth Botanic Garden.
  • A curriculum review at Bangor University to increase awareness of how sustainability issues are taught across the arts, humanities and social sciences curriculum.
  • Visual campaigns and engagement with key university stakeholders at Manchester Metropolitan University to explore the role that students can play in co-creating a university Sustainability Strategy for 2030.
  • A project to identify and link up sustainability initiatives across the University of East Anglia to build engagement and awareness of sustainability solutions.

Phase two, which was announced earlier this autumn, will engage two to three student groups across the six universities: Glasgow Caledonian, Leeds Art University, University of West London, Goldsmiths, University of London, Aberystwyth University and De Montfort University.

The SHAPE Impact Projects adopt a "living laboratory" model with the institutions and the students’ local communities serving as testbeds for their ideas, enabling an understanding of the real-world impact of their ideas. Additional learning and development workshops will be held to support the student project leaders in key areas, and students will draw on the expertise of Fellows of the British Academy.

Each participating university will provide support and input from academic staff, the university’s sustainability team and the Students’ Union. Students will also build and maintain links with local community groups, FE institutions, and local businesses.

The project will conclude with a conference bringing together all participants in April 2022.

Dr Molly Morgan Jones, Director of Policy at the British Academy, said:

“The British Academy is delighted to be working with SOS-UK once again to help give SHAPE students and researchers the opportunity to bring their insights to bear on climate and sustainability issues; issues so often thought to be the preserve of scientists and those working in STEM. This couldn’t be further from the truth. From behavioural psychologists and human geographers to historians, economists and communications scholars, SHAPE researchers regularly contribute invaluable insights to this most pressing of challenges.

“After the success of our previous round of SHAPE Sustainability Impact Projects and huge interest from universities across the UK, we’re looking forward to working with more than 150 students and staff at six new institutions, and to seeing their projects take shape and deliver impact.”

Larissa Kennedy, SOS-UK and NUS President, said:

“Students have long been at the heart of movements for climate justice and social justice. I’m so excited to see us furthering this by working with the British Academy on SHAPE Sustainability Impact projects, which provide an amazing opportunity to bring together students and academics from arts, humanities and social sciences, to take action for climate change and social justice.”

Contact the press office

For further information contact the Press Office on press@thebritishacademy.ac.uk  / 020 7969 5273 / 07500 010 432.

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