Engaging young people with climate research

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Apply for funding to engage young people aged 14 to 18 with climate-related research and the research process.

You must be:

  • a researcher at doctoral level or higher based at a UK research organisation
  • from an arts and humanities discipline, or a related interdisciplinary background.

Your public engagement activity should:

  • be based on research that is at least 50% within the arts and humanities
  • involve two-way engagement with benefits for both sides
  • have potential for positive long-term impact.

Your project must take place between September and December 2021 to coincide with the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

Who can apply

To apply for the public engagement fund, you must be:

  • a UK resident
  • over the age of 18
  • currently working or studying at doctoral level or higher at a UK research organisation that is eligible to receive funding from UK Research and Innovation (you can find out more about your organisation’s eligibility in section 2 of the AHRC research funding guide)
  • working in a relevant area of research.

We welcome applications which engage in interdisciplinary research and collaborate outside of arts and humanities, however, the primary focus must fall within an arts and humanities remit.

Find a more detailed list of AHRC disciplines.

For interdisciplinary projects see the following council disciplines pages:

We encourage applications from a diverse range of:

  • backgrounds
  • experiences
  • expertise
  • career stages.

What we're looking for

The UK will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) international summit in Glasgow from 1 to 12 November 2021.

To mark this major international event and an important moment in the global effort to tackle climate change, we’re looking for innovative and ambitious proposals for public engagement activity. Activity that will engage young people, aged 14 to 18 years old, in climate-related research and the research process.

We encourage applicants from across the UK to think creatively about the project. Also to embrace diverse public engagement methods that will inspire, excite and engage young people in research about climate change on a broad and deep level.

We particularly encourage applications that propose collaborating with or engaging young people from hard-to-reach communities.

Mobilising young people to climate action

Applicants are encouraged to think widely about how they might engage with the theme of ‘Mobilising young people to climate action’.

Topics or themes

Potential topics or themes that could be included are:

  • how do we strengthen the creativity, potential and capacity of young people to take and influence positive climate action
  • how can young people and youth networks and groups exchange ideas and work together on addressing climate change
  • how can we create unique opportunities for young people to be at the cutting edge of influencing the decisions being made locally about climate change
  • explore young people’s perceptions of present and future climate change through creative communication, for example:
    • stories
    • art
    • poetry
    • digital
    • theatre
  • investigate opportunities for young people to connect with local communities, family members and different generations to talk about climate change
  • how do young people engage with wider conversations feeding into the climate agenda, for example:
    • waste and the circular economy
    • conservation
    • green or blue space.

This list is illustrative and not meant to be exclusive or to constrain innovation.

We welcome proposals drawing on the arts and humanities (in combination with other disciplines where appropriate) to address other themes of central relevance to the theme of mobilising young people to climate action.

Project requirements

We are looking for projects that:

  • programme public engagement activity that takes place between September and December 2021
  • demonstrate excellent two-way public engagement and equitable working with young people aged 14-18 years old, by making research relevant and beneficial and by responding to the needs and interests of this group
  • demonstrate potential for meaningful and positive long-term impact. For example, public engagement activity should aim to achieve at least one of the following impacts:
    • activity enables young people to be active participants in the research process
    • activity empowers young people to believe their views matter and can instigate change
    • activity supports young people to gain a variety of new skills
    • activity improves young people’s sense of wellbeing and self-esteem
    • if local, activity demonstrates potential to be scaled up on a national level
  • demonstrate a rigorous ethics and safeguarding plan, which ensures the health, safety and wellbeing of young people involved in the project is effectively managed
  • prioritise access to participation, diversity and inclusion and target young people. We welcome proposals that involve young people from under-represented audience groups and communities
  • demonstrate equitable partnerships with groups involved in the project, such as:
    • schools
    • colleges
    • youth groups
    • support groups
    • local campaign
    • voluntary groups
  • demonstrate that the chosen partners are relevant or appropriate to the project
  • represent good value for money and are well-planned and achievable within budget and timeframe
  • demonstrate potential for learnings and successes to be shared with one or more of the following audience groups:
    • young people involved in project
    • academic community
    • policymakers
    • the environment NGO movement.

You must demonstrate in your application how you will deliver your activity in a safe way, providing a rigorous ethics and safeguarding management plan that considers:

  • the health, safety and wellbeing of the young people
  • government guidelines around the COVID-19 pandemic (see ‘How to apply’ for further details).

We encourage you to consider a mix of digitally and socially distanced methods and to develop a contingency plan for your proposed activity in the event of a local or national lockdown.

We are looking for projects that embrace participatory research methods to ensure that young people are actively involved in the research process and engaged in current climate-related research.

Applicants should consider how they might engage young people in some or all stages of the research process. For example:

  • by adopting collaborative, co-design or co-production methods by listening to young voices and involving young people in decision-making
  • by encouraging peer-to-peer or intergenerational engagement, whereby young people are the lead participants in the activity.

Example types of activities:

  • interviews, focus groups, surveys and consultation with young people or co-designed by young people
  • oral history activities
  • design sprint activities
  • place-based participatory activity that relates to the environment, for example:
    • walks and talks in the field
    • work around a river, landscape or urban environment
  • film screenings with Q&A discussions or introductions
  • displays and exhibitions (virtual or physical)
  • creation of media outputs, for example:
    • vlogs
    • podcasts
    • radio and tv programming
    • films
    • apps
    • zines
  • theatre, music, visual art and craft, or creative writing and poetry that tells the story of climate change and is rooted in place and based on the ideas of young people
  • schools sessions, workshops and educational packs that make relevant and creative use of the national curriculum covering one or multiple subjects.

What we will and will not fund

We will fund:

  • freelancer fees for delivery of project, for example for:
    • artists
    • musicians
    • performers
    • consultants
    • translators
    • non-staff speakers
    • brokers or mediators to support youth engagement, for example, youth support workers
  • out-of-pocket expenses for participants (for example, travel, subsistence) via any partner organisations, such as youth groups or community groups, where involvement in project is significant or continuous over long period of time and cover the cost of out-of-pocket expenses for carers or guardians as to enable young people to participate who might need the support of an adult
  • cost of producing outputs and essential activity materials, for example:
    • equipment
    • props
    • costumes
  • venue hire
  • transport costs
  • marketing costs.

We will not fund:

  • activity that would have taken place without the support of this fund, for example, pre-planned activity that has been upscaled or could be absorbed into institutional budgets
  • staff salaries
  • overhead costs
  • catering (unless consumables are essential to proposed activity)
  • activity designed primarily for the academic community, for example:
    • conferences
    • symposia
    • workshops.

How to apply

You can apply for this scheme from 29 April 2021 until the deadline of 16 June 2021.

You should prepare and submit your proposal using the Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

Please make sure you leave sufficient time to create a Je-S account if you don’t already have one.

Please ensure that you gain any required approval from your organisation and ensure you submit before the deadline at 16:00 UK time on 16 June 2021.

How to apply using Je-S

Once you have logged in to Je-S, you should add a new proposal. Go to documents, select ‘New document’, then select ‘Create new document’ with the following details:

  • Council: AHRC
  • Document type: Standard proposal
  • Scheme: Development grants
  • Call: COP 26 10 June 2021

Application questions

You will need to answer the following questions when you apply.

Project title

(maximum 20 words)

Project summary

(maximum 300 words)

Give an outline of your project:

  • explain how your research is explored through this project
  • summarise the project’s aims, activities, target audience, project partners (if any) and intended outcomes and potential impact.

The assessors are looking for projects that can achieve one or more of the following:

  • inspire and engage young people, aged 14-18 years old, around climate change
  • demonstrate inspiring, creative and innovative approaches to public engagement.

Describe your outputs (public engagement activity)

(max 250 words)

Describe your public engagement activity, listing costs and estimated dates against activity.

The assessors are particularly looking for:

  • inspiring, creative and innovative public engagement methods that actively engage young people, aged 14 to 18 years old
  • well-planned and achievable activities, that represent good value for money.

Describe your project beneficiaries and anticipated impact

(max 250 words)

How will your project make a change to the young people that it engages with?

The assessors are particularly looking for:

  • clear outcomes
  • potential for positive long-term impact.

Describe how you plan to engage young people, aged 14 to 18 years old

(max 250 words)

Tell us about the young people that you intend to engage with: why do you want to engage with them and how this project will benefit and inspire them?

How do you plan to make this activity accessible and relevant, and how will you adapt to potential difficulties that may arise from the COVID-19 pandemic?

The assessors are particularly looking for:

  • demonstration of relevance and benefit of activity to young people, and that they are actively engaged with and involved in the research process
  • understanding of potential barriers to access for young people and a plan of how to remove barriers.

Additional documents

You are also required to attach a number of documents.

Case for support

Personal eligibility

Briefly describe:

  • your current employment or education situation
  • whether you belong to a project team, if so, please outline team-members)
  • which partner(s), if any, you intend to work with on your project.

Describe your methods for evaluation

(max 250 words)

How will you will evaluate the effectiveness of your project?

The assessors are particularly looking for:

  • appropriate evaluation methods
  • potential to share findings from project with academic community and beyond.

Ethics, safeguarding and data management plan

The assessors are looking for:

  • plans to ensure health, safety and wellbeing of young people is effectively planned for and well-managed
  • appropriate safeguarding, consent and ethical processes are put in place which align with university and partner regulations
  • risk assessment
  • data management plan.

Successful applicants will be expected to provide proof of an up-to-date DBS certificate.

Justification of resources

Up to one side of A4. This should be a description of the need for the resources requested. Please ensure you justify all of the resources you request. See our funding guide for writing the justification of resources document.

You should:

  • explain why the indicated resources are needed. Note that it is not sufficient merely to list what is required
  • have regard for the breakdown of resources into the summary fund headings Directly Incurred, Directly Allocated and (where appropriate) Exceptions

Please note the following costs are not eligible:

  • activity that would have taken place without the support of this fund, for example, pre-planned activity that has been upscaled or could be absorbed into institutional budgets
  • staff salaries
  • overhead costs (estates and indirects)
  • catering (unless consumables are essential to proposed activity)
  • activity designed primarily for the academic community, for example:
    • conferences
    • symposia
    • workshops.

CVs and publications

A summary curriculum vitae should be attached as separate documents for each principal investigator and any co-investigators, named postdoctoral researchers. These should be no more than two sides of A4. CVs should include basic information about:

  • education
  • employment history
  • academic responsibilities.

Summary lists of publications or research outputs should be attached as separate documents for each principal investigator and any co-investigators or named postdoctoral researchers. These should cover major publications or outputs in the last five years and should be no more than one side of A4 paper.

Project partner letter or letters of support for all named project partners

Each project partner must provide a project partner letter of support, of no more than two sides of A4 or equivalent on headed paper by email in exceptional circumstances. The letter should be written when the proposal is being prepared and should be targeted specifically to the project, it must therefore be dated within six months before submission (or resubmission) of the proposal.

The letter of support is intended to provide reassurance to AHRC and to its reviewers that the appropriate authorisation has been given to the proposed contribution or commitment from the project partner.

To provide assurance that the project partner has authorised the proposed contribution or commitment the letter or email should be signed by the named contact, stating the capacity in which they are providing the sign off.

A well written project partner letter of support will confirm the organisation’s commitment to the proposed project by articulating:

  • the benefits of the collaboration
  • its relevance
  • potential impact.

The project partner letter should also identify:

  • the value, relevance and possible benefits of the proposed work to the partner
  • the period of support
  • the full nature of the collaboration or support
  • how the partner will provide added value.

Where relevant to the project, details should be provided of the projected market size, customers and sales and how the organisation will commercialise the technology beyond the project. Project partner contributions, whether in cash or in kind, should be explained in detail in the project partner letter of support.

You should attach all your documents as PDFs to avoid errors. They should be completed in single-spaced Arial 11 font or similar-sized sans serif typeface.

For further details and help in applying, please read the research funding guide (PDF, 1MB).

If you need further help, you can contact the Je-S help desk on 01793 444164 or by email jeshelp@je-s.ukri.org.

Your host organisation will be able to provide advice and guidance on completing your application.

After completing the application

You must click ‘Submit document’, which will send your application to your host organisation’s administration

Your host organisation’s administration is required to complete the submission process.

Applicants should allow sufficient time for your organisation’s submission process between submitting your proposal to them and the call closing date.

AHRC must receive your application by 16:00 on 16 June 2021.

How we will assess your application

Before we assess an application, the AHRC will check it for:

  • eligibility
  • research subject.

Applications which don’t adhere to these rules will be disqualified and will not progress any further. Incomplete, obscene or fraudulent entries will also be disqualified at this stage.

AHRC will then share the entirety of the content of the applications, excluding the applicant contact details (email address), with the selection panel via a secure online portal. The selection panel will represent diverse perspectives and specialisms and will include experts from representatives from the AHRC peer review college, and other relevant public and community engagement experts.

The selection panel will then assess all remaining applications against the assessment criteria below and assign an initial grade (1 to 6), where 1 is unsatisfactory and 6 is exceptional.

After considering all proposals, the selection panel will select the highest grading applications that meet our assessment and eligibility criteria.

Unfortunately, due to the volume of applications, we are not able to provide individual feedback if you are unsuccessful at the application stage.

Assessment criteria

1. Public engagement activity is relevant and beneficial to young people

The applicant must propose public engagement activity that responds to the needs and interests of the young people and partners they have identified.

The audience group or groups must be specific to the project, that is, ‘young people’ is not specific enough, but ‘16 to 18 year-olds in Glasgow’ is.

The public engagement activity must be:

  • relevant to young people
  • actively engage them in research
  • have the potential to positively impact upon them.

2. Equitable partnerships

The applicant demonstrates equitable partnerships incorporating collaboration, consultation or co-production methods that are fair and mutually beneficial.

3. Creative use of public engagement methodologies

The applicant makes creative or innovative use of public engagement methods to inspire and engage young people in the research process. This could be in the project’s:

  • design
  • collaborations
  • methods
  • participants
  • the challenge being addressed.

It is important to think carefully about how young people communicate and engage with each other.

4. Facilitating access, diversity and inclusion

The applicant demonstrates an understanding of potential barriers to access, diversity and inclusion for young people and provides a plan of how to remove these barriers.

5. Projects are logically and realistically planned

Projects must represent good value for money and present:

  • a clear delivery plan which is adaptable to changing COVID-19 related restrictions
  • an evaluation plan
  • outcomes that are achievable and measurable, within budget and timeframe.

Projects must demonstrate a rigorous ethics and safeguarding plan for managing the health, safety and wellbeing of the young people.

6. Projects show potential for positive impact

Projects must demonstrate potential for meaningful and positive long-term impact.

Successful applicants

Successful applicants will be notified in early July 2021.

They will receive their award through invoice. Applicants will be expected to provide AHRC with price quotations for their activity. AHRC will then generate a purchase order and request that the applicant’s research organisation generates an invoice. Once UKRI receives the invoice, payment will be made to the research organisation.

Successful applicants are advised to send price quotations as soon as possible to allow for their fund to be processed quickly.

Successful applicants will:

  • be expected to demonstrate proof of an up-to-date Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) certificate
  • be expected to update AHRC on their activity, to allow us to help promote their project
  • work with AHRC on communications and branding activity to support engagement projects – with guidance and information supplied on press releases, social media and digital. For example, there will be opportunities for researchers to contribute to the AHRC blog, ‘Arts & Minds’ and the ‘Green Thinking’ season of podcasts as part of the AHRC and BBC New Thinking Podcast partnership
  • be expected to evaluate their project and report their findings within three months of the activity and potentially participate in a workshop on public engagement to share experiences and learnings
  • be required to submit their project outcomes to Researchfish upon completion.

Contact details

The UKRI Operations Team is here to help with any questions about the service and the mobilising young people in a year of climate action funding opportunity. Queries should be directed to enquiries@ahrc.ukri.org.

Additional info

Terms and conditions

This guidance, and these terms, constitute the rules of the scheme.

AHRC reserves the right to alter or amend any of these rules or cancel the call at any time in their absolute discretion.

Your participation and your data

Your offer to participate in this funding opportunity is subject to continued acceptance of these conditions. By applying to the funding opportunity, you accept these rules and guidance.

You must supply full details as required and comply with all rules of the funding opportunity.

You recognise that your application and personal data will be shared with AHRC and partner organisations for the purpose of administering this funding opportunity. You should also note that if we identify a need to do so we may contact you at a later date for more information about you.

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