Major NERC public engagement programme marks milestone with publication of reports

21 August 2019

The first phase of the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC) major public engagement programme, Engaging Environments, has come to a close with the publication of reports from each of the six projects it funded.

The programme awarded £500,000 to the six projects, which developed groups of collaborative partners to engage the British public with environmental science.

Running from October 2017 to October 2018, the programme aimed to find more effective approaches to public engagement, moving beyond standard dissemination methods to co-creating engagement and working with communities, artists, and the public.

Projects developed and explored a wide range of routes to public engagement in environmental science, from developing empowering narratives of change with the public and artists to investigating how community organising can be used with environmental science.

The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), which acted as a coordinating hub for Engaging Environments, commissioned research on the views of NERC-funded researchers on public engagement and how it was supported. The report is available on the NCCPE website.

Key challenges identified in the report echo those seen across the higher education sector as a whole, in particular the need for more to be done to embed engagement into the culture of academic and institutional workplaces and provide access to training and support, especially around impact and evaluation. 

NERC Director of Corporate Affairs, Alison Robinson, said:

As environmental science will continue to be at the heart of some of society’s biggest challenges, Engaging Environments has demonstrated the importance of engaging with the public to address these complex issues.

“We welcome the publication of the NCCPE report and will consider its findings in our future public engagement work. NERC is updating our strategy for public engagement with environmental science research and we hope our community will share their thoughts and ideas to help us shape our new strategy.”

The strategy is available for feedback until 7 September – to take part visit Have your say.

The reports come as activity on Engaging Environments Stage 2 begin. NERC’s biggest single investment in public engagement to date has awarded £1.3 million, with project partners pledging a further £235,000 of in-kind contributions to the NERC Community for Engaging Environments project. Activities will aim to engage a broad range of audiences, including those typically less represented in public engagement activities.

Further information

Tamera Jones
Media and Communications Manager
07342 025443

James Easey
Media and Communications Manager
07947 467162


Engaging Environments reports

The Climate Communication Project brought together leading academics and practitioners to ‘audit’ UK capacity and expertise in public engagement with environmental science, creating a capacity-building model that provides the groundwork for further engagement activities.

Climate Stories developed a new model for engaging about environmental issues by bringing together scientists, artists and the public to co-develop empowering narratives of change; they produced a book, film and art works.

Engaging Environments hub supported the other projects to work together and share learning, facilitated collaboration and ensured stakeholders had opportunities to get involved in the work.

ENCOMPASS: Engaging Communities with Environmental Science aligned research with the concerns of communities around contemporary environmental issues and examined how the practice of community organising can be used with environmental science.

Future of Our Seas created a replicable blueprint for public engagement with institutions, trainees and community groups, co-designing effective and monitored engagement.

Opening up science for all scoped a national community of practice (CoP) for public engagement with environmental research, working to address barriers to participation for both scientists and the public. Led to four local CoPs, open access citizen science training and a blog.


The National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE), which acted as a coordinating hub for Engaging Environments, has collaborated with NERC to create a booklet (PDF) - external link to celebrate the outcomes of the programme. The publication highlights successes and learning points to enable researchers at all stages of their career to plan and deliver high-quality public engagement activities.