Early Career Research Learning Opportunities with NERC Engaging Environments Partnership - Earthwatch

Early Career Research Learning Opportunities with NERC Engaging Environments Partnership


 Engaging Environments Early Career Researchers, 2019, credit John Hunt

The challenge for researchers to understand the scale and impact of the threats facing our planet and society has never been as relevant and urgent as it is today. The impacts of climate change and ecological crises are now being felt directly and indirectly by communities across the world, yet, existing platforms to connect with affected communities are often one-directional and fail to engage the communities in a meaningful way.

Working toward social and sustainability goals, such as recovery from COVID-19 and creating healthy and resilient environments, requires swift collective efforts, strong leadership and people working together across sectors and government levels.

The Engaging Environments Partnership brings together practitioners and partners from research institutions and community and conservation-based NGOs across the UK.


Virtual Community Science Camp – Online interactive learning course 

19 April – 17 May 2021

Virtual Community Science Camp is a short interactive online learning programme that takes place over a 5 week-period exploring the concept and practice of community-centred approaches to research as seen through a diverse set of case study examples taken from and delivered by the Engaging Environments Local Communities of Practice. 

Through real-life examples, participants will gather new insight and experience into the challenges and complexities of community engagement and how to overcome these and apply learnings into their own research practices. As a foundation of our understanding, participants will also be invited to reflect on historic and current socio-economic and cultural factors that have led to some communities being excluded from the environmental research agenda and what the impact of this has been.  

The course will comprise a series of weekly live interactive sessions online, supported by pre-recorded videos and reading materials to be completed throughout the weeks, and weekly group activities and tasks to be completed with other participants on the course. Participants will also be guided in developing their own action plans for implementing approaches, ideas and practices explored during the course into their own research practices. Time commitment for this course is estimated at 12 hours per week including live session, pre-work and group activities. 


Applications are now closed.

Creating Engaging Environments: Introduction – Online event 

8 February (2.30pm -4pm)

This online interactive discussion session is an introduction to Engaging Environments Virtual Community Science Camp, an online learning course that will run from April – May 2021 and is open to early-career environmental researchers.

Join us for a short interactive discussion session with alumni members from last year’s learning course and members of the Engaging Environments partnership. We’ll be reflecting on the fundamental questions of why we engage with communities, why communities engage with us and what are the challenges we face in connecting environmental research with communities. We highly recommend attending this event if you are considering applying for the Virtual Community Science Camp. It will give you an opportunity to ask questions and gain insight into how the course can support your professional and personal development.


Confirmed Speakers

Jessica Potts, Bangor University, Engaging Environments Alumni

Jess is a final year PhD researcher, investigating the impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides on soil functions and below-ground biota. Jess’s research has led to an interest in how people interact with nature and their wider understanding of their garden habits can affect the wider environment. Whilst COVID-19 interruptions have led to certain projects being scrapped, the interest in the interactions between people and nature still fuels Jess’s passion for her work. Outside of her research Jess has been involved in various community engagement and outreach projects, from youth-led social action campaigns to running chemistry practicals in high schools across North Wales.

Dr Eleanor Starkey, Newcastle University, Engaging Environments Alumni

Eleanor is a Research Associate at the National Green Infrastructure Facility, Newcastle University, where she is involved in testing and demonstrating the impact of Sustainable Drainage Systems and nature-based designs. She has specialised in hydrology and flood risk management, inside and outside academia, for the past ten years. This includes completing a PhD in catchment science, which focused on community-based engagement, citizen science and natural flood management. During, and since, the PhD Eleanor has, as an Engineer, incorporated various participatory methods to maximise the relevance and impact of her work to local communities directly affected by environmental pressures on the ground.

Richard Campbell

Richard Campbell-Founder and Managing Director BLESST (Building Learning Education Safe Space Transition), worked as a support worker for young people 12 years ago with mental, behavioural and learning difficulties. Richard went on in 2011 to pursue his academic career and became a peer researcher at Newman university while studying his Masters in youth & community. Richard developed a passion for democracy and became part of citizens UK Birmingham after completing his citizens 6-day leadership program in community organising and community empowerment. BLESST was formed so that active learning, self-development, youth leadership, heathy wellbeing and legacy can be obtained and passed on in communities and family lives.


Dr Erinma Ochu, Manchester Metropolitan University,

Engaging Environments Interim Director & Senior Lecturer in Digital Media and Communications in the Journalism, Information and Communications.

Erinma teaches and researches digital media and is interested in how social and technological forces can reshape the way content is produced, experienced and shared and what this means for society and the environment. She is a Digital Society Fellow, supported by Wellcome and The Natural Environment Research Council, working on a national climate justice initiative, with digital storytelling at its heart. Erinma has contributed to several books, focused on digital methods, digital innovation, and how the public can contribute to research and content creation through digital participation and live events. And often advises industry and cultural organisations who value research and knowledge exchange with academia.

The Virtual Community Science Camp is part of Engaging Environments, a three year, NERC funded initiative aimed building a National Community of Practice around equitable and inclusive environmental research.


Engaging Environments Partner Institutions                                                      

University of Birmingham, Citizens UK, Earthwatch Europe, Ignite, University College London, University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Newcastle University, Open University, University of Reading, Tekiu Ltd.  



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