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 call.

This is an opportunity for all sections of the research and innovation sector to engage with the call, 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 call will open by the end of March and the closing date for proposals will be May 2021. Applicants to the main research call do not need to have received funding from the partnership call.

We are particularly interested in receiving applications to the partnership seed fund call and main research call from Black, Asian and ethnically diverse researchers who are currently under-represented within academia.

AHRC and NERC are inviting proposals from interdisciplinary research collaborationsto meet the main Hidden Histories research call aims. AHRC and NERC intend to fund a diverse portfolio of projects costing up to £100,000 each, with a total programme budget of £450,000.

Successful projects must be completed by April 2023. The call will open end of July 2021 and the closing date for proposals will be end of September 2021.

The emerging research call is planned to consider the following:

  • To what extent has colonial and other history, exclusion and social injustice influenced how the environmental science research sector presents cultures and issues including around race, racism and representation and intersectionality?
  • How do key people, places or issues in the colonial past of environmental science research compare with those shaped by present-day cultural sensitivities and expectations?
  • How can engagement with relevant people throughout the research improve projects for mutual benefits, which may include identifying opportunities to actively influence, consult or collaborate?
  • Are there practical recommendations that UKRI, NERC and the environmental science sector might more broadly consider in order to respond to society’s evolving outlooks and attitudes, in line with delivering NERC’s responsible business statement?

AHRC and NERC are launching a collaborator 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 call 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 in time to apply for the partnership funding (if this funding sought) and again in time for the main funding call. Those interested should therefore complete the survey as early as possible and by 14 April. The final date for completing the survey is 6 May 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 call 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 call 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 call.

The Advisory group membership is as follows:

  • David Bryan, Xtend Ltd, UK (Chair)
  • Nicola Beaumont, Plymouth Marine Laboratory
  • Joanna Burch-Brown, University of Bristol
  • 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 Leeds
  • Nalin Thakkar, University of Manchester
Date Activity
16 and 17 March Event
29 March Partnership call opens
14 April and 6 May Collaboration finder deadlines
12 May Partnership call closes
19 May to 30 September Partnership call awards
27 July Research call opens
30 September Research call closes
3 January 2022 to 28 April 2023 Research call awards