Shared Understandings of Sustainable Future Research Awards

Funded by

The research project under this scheme have been awarded up to £20,000 each and will run for six months.

Communities of Creative Survival: Live Simulation to Generate Grassroots Insight for Net-Zero Policy

Dr Danielle Barrios-O'Neill

Royal College of Art

Amount awarded: £19,352

This study builds on the potential of critical, creative, playful collaboration to inform policy discussions, by generating meaningful solutions in the form of social capital and design outcomes, as well as specifically policy-focused outcomes. It does so by presenting a plausible future climate scenario which is played-through by five communities over four weeks. This is informed by real-time expert analysis and feedback of realistic outcomes of implementation, followed by a design jam involving partners from multiple sectors, where solutions are refined, and social collaboration is re-analysed in the context of real-world conditions and relationships. Outcomes include recommendations for policymakers, focusing on methods of engagement most useful for social cohesion, commitment and constructive problem-solving around shared sustainability goals. Design outcomes will include concepts, models and prototypes that have genuine potential to contribute to net-zero, as assessed and sense-checked by project advisers and experts during both stages of the project.

Developing a Grassroots Sustainable Futures Platform: Collective Participation in a Community-Based Cultural Organisation

Dr Lee Barron

Northumbria University

Amount awarded: £15,290

The research project consists of an interdisciplinary group of academics from Northumbria University (with backgrounds in the social sciences and humanities, architecture and design) working with The Word: The National Centre for the Written Word, state-of-the-art cultural venue that is situated on the riverside in South Shields, a town situated in the North East of England. The Word serves as a physical and interactive platform for a series of research activities (interviews, public talks, focus groups and creative workshops) that enable local social actors to reflect on sustainable behaviours and attitudes and form a basis to inform (and access) decision-making bodies' actions toward the establishment of a net-zero future. The research data will be illustrated through the creation and provision of an exhibition held in The Word that communicates the outcomes of the research and a co-created community-based net-zero grassroots action plan to connect the community with stakeholders.

The Great Community Climate Change Experiment: Using children from the community to promote meaningful sustainable actions.

Professor Geoff Beattie

Edge Hill University

Amount awarded: £19,153

This project uses a bottom-up approach to create a shared understanding of an engaged sustainable future. It focuses on individual and collective action in an area of the North West marked by economic deprivation and thus harder to reach from a climate change perspective. The project’s first aim is to overcome learned helplessness in the community and to promote self-efficacy by using a film about children from that community as role models for the adults. The children are seen engaged on a creative-arts programme about climate change, and through time adapting their values and behaviour to address climate change directly. We will measure the effects of this film on the audience members’ feelings of self-efficacy and their implicit values about carbon, which are better predictors of sustainable behaviour. This project highlighting both community transmission and the role of implicit processes for sustainable choices should have major policy and practical implications.

Attitudes Towards Climate Action

Professor Sir Timothy Besley FBA

London School of Economics and Political Science

Amount awarded: £16,472

This proposal, at the intersection of economics and political science, is to fund research assistance to facilitate an ongoing collaboration with the Gallup corporation to explore determinants of changes in attitudes towards climate action. It has three parts. The first is to support work to link geo-coded data in the Gallup data to specific climate events. We have already been granted access to this data by the Gallup organisation but quite a lot of work will be needed to operationalise this. The second part is for work with Gallup to design and pre-test new questions for the Gallup World Poll. The third part is to use research assistant time to deepen the PI's collaboration with Gallup by exploring a survey design and a range of field experiments with their corporate clients to examine changing attitudes of workers to climate action both within firms and in wider settings.

Collaborative Voices: drawing on cross-sector expertise in building community capacity and sustaining partnerships towards net-zero sustainability futures

Dr Jaya Gajparia

London South Bank University

Amount awarded: £20,000

While the climate crisis affects everyone, research shows that racialised communities that are disproportionately affected are also disproportionately excluded from policy and decision-making processes. Narratives promoting collaboration have expanded the potential for inclusivity moving away from top-down approaches towards community, cross-sectoral participation. Against this backdrop, this proposal introduces systems leadership, an innovative methodology emphasising co-creation and inclusive dialogue for net-zero future goals. London South Bank University is uniquely situated within a diverse community, with cross-sectoral professional connections to local third-sector organisations, public sector, private companies and racialised community groups. We are therefore exceptionally placed to facilitate a network including diverse voices of the disproportionately affected and excluded. Crucially, this proposal acknowledges the power imbalance that sustains exclusion, instead seeking meaningful conversations and collaborative action for informing policymakers, investors, experts and civil society, reorienting the power to establish trust at community level.

Co-designing sustainable food futures: using climate assemblies to build shared agri-food visions for net-zero

Professor Damian Maye

University of Gloucestershire

Amount awarded: £19,972

The science is clear about food and farming’s negative climate change impact: it is significant and we need to act now to build sustainable futures. This involves reducing meat consumption and food waste and changing the ways we farm, particularly ruminant livestock. For farmers this could mean reducing livestock numbers, growing more trees on their land or changing management practices. However, we have limited understanding of how livestock farmers think about these changes, what ambitions they have for change, or what the changes could mean for rural communities. This project develops a participatory methodology, climate assemblies, to bring farmers, rural businesses, NGOs and citizens together in two livestock-farming communities to debate their agri-food futures, identify net-zero ambitions and vision solutions in ways that are fair, just and democratic. We will produce digital stories, infographics, research briefs, wiki resources and local transition plans for local communities, policymakers and academia.

Community-Led Television, Local Voice and Climate Action

Dr Elke Weissmann

Edge Hill University

Amount awarded: £16,324

How can local communities be informed and inspired to take climate action? What role can local television play in this process? This research project will examine how local communities, on a communal and individual level, will be informed about and inspired to act on climate change through a series of local citizens' assemblies which will be filmed and transformed into local television content. The Television Studies Research Group at Edge Hill University and the Heseltine Institute at the University of Liverpool will work together with the local community organisation, Love Wavertree CIC. The research project will examine how communities and individuals know about and are motivated to tackle climate change on one hand by participating in climate assemblies and on the other by local television, made with and about them, and if the latter can amplify local voices to inspire change.

Shifting the Narrative: Exploring the role of arts interventions in supporting communities in working across sectors to achieve place-based climate action

Dr Alette Willis

University of Edinburgh

Amount awarded: £19,603

Governments, business leaders, civil society and third-sector groups call for a ‘new story’ as fundamental to facilitating shifts towards sustainability and net-zero. This project brings together (1) researchers in social science, education and design; (2) partner organisations representing third sector, businesses, planning professionals and policy-makers; (3) artists and arts organisations with expertise in working with stories to foster collaboration and to shift narratives of community and place. This project aims to deepen understandings of how arts practices contribute to changing individual, organisational, community and social narratives towards sustainability and net-zero. Best practices for working strategically with stories will be developed and shared through the extensive local and international networks of the investigators and partner organisations along with academic publication. Broader impact will be realised through collaborations with Scottish International Storytelling Festival (SISF) 2022 and through supporting the formation of a Scottish Storytelling Collective by Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN).

Localising and decentralising goal-based governance for sustainability in England

Professor Jane Wills

University of Exeter

Amount awarded: £19,972

This project will support ongoing co-designed transdisciplinary action research with Cornwall Council to pioneer new forms of political leadership and action to secure net-zero and a more sustainable future. We aim to identify the mechanisms and processes that allow local authority leaders (officers and elected councillors) to mobilise a range of partners (including the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as active individuals) across the county. The project will enhance existing institutional infrastructure and action to tackle key socio-ecological issues in a rural area, where it is important to reach out across the territory. The project activities include: two workshops; two practically-oriented reports; two graphic summaries; a policy pamphlet produced with the British Academy; and an academic journal article. The work will help to underpin the local civic university agreement and the ambition for Cornwall to be the first carbon-neutral region in the UK.

These projects are part of the Shared Understandings of a Sustainable Future programme.

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