Hidden histories programme

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will co-fund a £0.5m programme, called Hidden histories of environmental science: Acknowledging legacies of race, social injustice and exclusion to inform the future.

The programme will take an interdisciplinary approach bringing together teams including environmental scientists, arts, humanities, economic and social science researchers, practitioners and community groups to form substantial research collaborations.

These collaborations will seek to understand and acknowledge how the future of modern environmental science can be informed by the past, in particular the relationship between the sector and its underpinning colonial history, and how different cultural perceptions of environmental science can be incorporated today.

As a result, a greater understanding of the legacies of race, social injustice and exclusion can inform plans and practical actions of AHRC, NERC and the environmental science community. This evidence can help inform potential responses to society’s evolving outlooks and attitudes, in line with delivering NERC’s responsible business statement.

AHRC and NERC are inviting proposals from interdisciplinary collaborations for seed funding to plan, build and sustain partnerships across disciplines within and outside of academia, which are required to deliver the main Hidden histories research opportunity.

This is an opportunity for all sections of the research and innovation sector to engage with the opportunity, including under-represented communities and places. AHRC and NERC intend to fund projects costing up to £2000 and £5000 each, with a total programme budget of £50,000.

Successful projects must be completed by end of September 2021. The opportunity will open by the end of March and the closing date for proposals will be May 2021. Applicants to the main research opportunity do not need to have received funding from the partnership opportunity.

We are particularly interested in receiving applications to the partnership seed fund opportunity and main research opportunity from researchers and practitioners from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds, including those from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds.

Visit the UKRI Funding Finder for full information.

The successful projects in partnership seed fund opportunity were:

Full name Organisation Partnership title
Ria Dunkley University of Glasgow The Hidden Environmental Histories of the River Clyde
Rebecca Kilner University of Cambridge Legacies of Empire and Enslavement in University Natural History Museums and Collections
Trevor Bailey Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales African Natural History - Whose Stories?
Cristina García University of Liverpool Uncovering hidden histories of trade, enslavement and environmental science through Liverpool
Fiona Gill University of Leeds Bias in the fossil record: how the historical development of palaeontology has influenced inequity and lack of diversity in current palaeontology and allied sciences
Jill Thompson University of Bradford Revealing Bradford: Revealing Bradford’s Hidden Environmental Histories and Community Perceptions; Watercourses, Green Space and Implications for Urban Regeneration
Catriona McKinnon University of Exeter Hidden histories of inequality and resilience among UK Muslim environmental scientists
Yunci Cai University of Leicester Unravelling the Hidden Histories of Environmental (Mis)management and Indigenous (Dis)possession in Borneo: Re-centring Native Knowledge and Local Politics in Nature and Cultural Conservation
Christina Welch University of Winchester Documenting the contribution of indigenous & enslaved knowledge regarding plant uses to the development of the St Vincent Botanical Garden led by Dr Alexander Anderson (d.1811)
Valeria Vargas Manchester Metropolitan University Generous Domains: Global Citizenship Perspectives for Environmental Sciences
Thomas Roland University of Exeter ‘The land can talk’: Co-producing a framework for embedding traditional and indigenous ecological knowledge in palaeoenvironmental and historical climate reconstruction
Pete Yeandle Loughborough University CoLeGen: exploring the colonial legacies of UK geoscience in Africa

AHRC and NERC are inviting proposals from interdisciplinary research collaborations to research the Hidden Histories of environmental science (closing date is 5 October 2021).

In this main research opportunity, you can apply for funding to research how UK environmental science can learn from the past.

You will consider colonial history and different cultural perceptions.

Your project team must include:

  • at least one eligible arts and humanities researcher
  • at least one eligible environmental science researcher.

The project must work with at least one community group or non-academic organisation.

The full economic cost of your project can be up to £125,000 (the total fund is £650,000). AHRC and NERC will fund 80% of the full economic cost.

Your project can last up to 15 months. It must start by 4 January 2022.

Visit the UKRI Funding Finder for full information.

AHRC and NERC are launching a collaboration finder for the Hidden histories programme. This short survey provides a platform to help researchers, community groups, stakeholders and others interested in developing a proposal for submission to the main research funding opportunity to find and contact potential collaborators and project partners, as well as aiming to ensure a diversity of applicants and collaborations.

Information provided will be shared by email as a password protected PDF with all participants in the survey shortly after each of the four deadlines: 14 April, 6 May, 3 June and 1 July 2021.

All personal data provided via this survey will be processed in accordance with current UK data protection legislation. Details can be found in the guidance notes and on the UKRI privacy notice.

AHRC and NERC will run an online consultation event in partnership with Collaborative Capacities on 16 and 17 March 2021, to help shape the programme, transform cross-disciplinary research, inform practice and begin to form potential partnerships to apply for funding once the opportunity opens.

A series of interactive, facilitated discussions using online tools will guide 60 delegates to:

  1. Unearth different perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of the emerging programme, and identify how these can shape our future plans.
  2. Build capacity and capability in researchers for interdisciplinary working, research partnerships and planning for impact, while also identifying additional capacity building, training and development needs that can be built through this programme.
  3. Create opportunities for potential applicants to begin to build partnerships, setting the tone for respectful and equitable approaches, and providing an opportunity for potential collaborators to meet each other.

Applications to an open opportunity to attend the event were assessed by AHRC, NERC and the event organiser Collaborative Capacities based on the potential to deliver at least one of the event purposes, ensuring a balance of different perspectives, disciplines, expertise and affiliations with diversity in mind. A summary report after the event will be openly published and available to everyone, including those who do not attend the event.

The programme will be overseen by an independent advisory group to provide impartial and informed advice, insight and challenge to AHRC and NERC on specific elements of the programme. They are ineligible to apply for funding from either opportunity.

The Advisory group membership is as follows:

  • David Bryan, Xtend Ltd, UK (Chair)
  • Nicola Beaumont, Plymouth Marine Laboratory
  • Joanna Burch-Brown, University of Bristol
  • Jo Gay, Westminster City Council
  • Dan Hicks, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford
  • Anjana Khatwa, Wessex Museums
  • Judy Ling Wong, Black Environment Network
  • Miranda Lowe, Natural History Museum, London
  • Patricia Noxolo, University of Birmingham
  • Rich Pancost, University of Bristol
  • Craig Poku, University of York
  • Nalin Thakkar, University of Manchester
Date Activity
16 and 17 March Event
29 March Partnership opportunity opens
14 April, 6 May, 3 June and 1 July Collaboration finder deadlines
12 May Partnership opportunity closes
19 May to 30 September Partnership opportunity awards
27 July Research opportunity opens
5 October Research opportunity closes
4 January 2022 to 31 March 2023 Research opportunity awards