Making environmental science equal, diverse and inclusive

Apply for funding to explore and improve equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) within environmental science.

You must be employed by an eligible UK research institution.

You can only be listed on one application.

Postdoctoral research assistants (PDRAs) cannot act as the lead proposer, but can be named as a recognised researcher if they have helped develop the proposal.

The full economic cost of your project can be between £50,000 and £100,000. We will fund 100% of the full economic cost.

We will not fund associated PhD studentships under this opportunity.

Your project can last up to six months. It must start no later than 1 December 2021 and be completed by 31 May 2022.

Who can apply

You must be employed by an eligible UK research institution to apply.

Individuals wishing to apply and be named as a principal investigator or co-investigator can only be listed on one application. If the applicant is listed as a principal investigator on one application then they cannot be listed on another application as a co-investigator.

PDRAs cannot act as the lead proposer but can be named as a recognised researcher if they have helped develop the proposal.

The proposal can include funding requests for EDI experts who are not based at eligible organisations through the use of subcontracting conditions (see NERC research grant and fellowships handbook). However, NERC would not expect the funding for the collective subcontracting costs for EDI experts to be more than 25% of the awarded funding.

Normal individual eligibility applies and is in Section C of the NERC research grant and fellowships handbook.

Grants may be held at:

  • approved UK higher education institutions
  • approved research council institutes
  • independent research organisations
  • public sector research establishments.

Read the guidance on institutional eligibility.

Organisations are not limited in the number of proposals they can submit to this opportunity. We emphasise, however, that a diverse set of proposals will be funded, and it is unlikely that more than one application will be funded from any single research organisation.

What we're looking for

This opportunity aims to give flexibility and uplift to organisations, or consortia of organisations, to explore and improve EDI within their environmental science disciplines, with a lead organisation (and with wider organisational involvement encouraged) and lead to greater diversity in environmental sciences.

Objectives

The objectives are to:

  • tackle the specific EDI challenges facing an academic team or department or a discipline in a wider sense
  • test, verify and further define effective approaches to improve EDI within their specified remit
  • bring together academics to raise awareness of the opportunities for increasing diversity within the environmental sciences
  • provide new evidence for the improvement of EDI within disciplines in the form of written case studies and for award holders to participate at a NERC organised knowledge exchange virtual event by October 2022.

Projects must address all of the objectives above with a view to outputs contributing to ongoing efforts to improve EDI within their target discipline or disciplines.

NERC are keen for you to seek, where appropriate, pedagogic experts (such as those with expertise in creating effective learning environments) and EDI experts (from inside and outside academia if appropriate) to co-create your activities and co-generate new knowledge together.

The activities NERC supports could take many forms, and flexibility for the community to identify the areas most important to focus on is a key first principle in this investment. But all successful grants will focus on diversity throughout the lifecycle of research and innovation.

An example could be considering how to consult a range of people while planning, doing and evaluating research using an approach that confers better EDI embedded outcomes for the discipline.

Funded activities will have an environmental disciplinary focus and not be broad and general in their approach. For example, we are not looking for activities which primarily aim to produce general good practice toolkits or organise diversity and inclusion training. NERC will expect proposals to have a clear environmental disciplinary outcome or output.

Funding available

Eligible researchers can request between £50,000 and £100,000 by applying by the closing date on 11 October 2021.

The latest start date for projects funded under this opportunity is 1 December 2021 and they must be complete by 31 May 2022.

The proposal can include funding requests for EDI experts who are not based at eligible organisations through the use of subcontracting conditions (see NERC research grant and fellowships handbook). However, NERC would not expect the funding for the collective subcontracting costs for EDI experts to be more than 25% of the awarded funding.

The normal rules would apply on subsequently funding project partner involvement through successful grants.

The grant is being funded at 100% full economic cost in recognition that this is not primarily a research grant. Estates and indirect cost calculations are based on research staff, so would be expected to be reduced on these awards.

Funding for subcontracting EDI expertise from outside can be funded at 100% and other non-research staff and activities (workshops etc) can be funded at 100% of the direct costs.

What we won’t fund

This opportunity will not cover:

  • activities or provisions that we would expect your host organisation to provide, or that it’s required to provide by law
  • equipment over £10,000 (anything under £10,000 is a directly incurred other consumable)
  • extra funding over the cash-limit to support parental leave or sick leave costs. Where required, those costs can be funded from the grant (as per the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) terms and conditions up to the cash-limit only).

No associated PhD studentships can be requested under this opportunity.

How to apply

The eligible applicant must submit the proposal on behalf of the institution, or consortia of institutions. Proposals must be submitted using the Word form to the EDI enrichment shared mailbox by emailing edienrichment@nerc.ukri.org by 11 October 2021 16:00.

EDI enrichment proposal form (DOCX, 101KB)

Applicants must submit details on:

  • the level of novelty and innovation in the proposed approach
  • proposed activity and outcomes and outputs
  • the feasibility of delivery
  • the capability of the team to deliver.

Each section a maximum of 250 words. No attachments are required and should not be attached.

The submission should also include a high-level proposal summary (250 words) and an estimated high-level cost-summary, which will not be considered as part of the assessment process.

Successful principal investigators can decide if they wish to work with other grant holders in a coordinated way, unfacilitated by NERC, but this is not a requirement.

The opportunity will close on 11 October 2021 16:00 and it will not be possible to submit to the opportunity after this time. Any proposal that is incomplete, or does not meet NERC’s eligibility criteria, will be rejected and will not be considered.

Applicants are advised to consult their institutional finance officers when completing the financial parts of the application. Details of eligible costs are given in the NERC research grants handbook (PDF, 792KB). All costs should be in pounds sterling (£ or GBP). Grants will be funded at 100% full economic cost.

Any applications which go over the budget of £100,000 will be automatically rejected. As per normal NERC rules, NERC will not provide additional funding to cover fluctuations in exchange rates.

The high-level costs summary should include:

  • indirect costs
  • estates
  • staff time and administration support
  • communication support and networking
  • appropriate travel and subsistence
  • development of outcomes from the activity.

Detailed information on co-investigators, or project partners, is not required in the proposal. The involvement of any key collaborators or project partners can be explained briefly in the proposed activity, where required.

How we will assess your application

Proposals will be assessed by an internal assessment panel in November 2021 comprising trained NERC and UKRI staff.

The funding decision will be announced in (mid) November 2021, with projects beginning as soon as possible following the announcement. All projects must have commenced by 1 December 2021 and be complete by 31 May 2022. We will endeavour to provide short feedback to all submitted proposals.

NERC will use the recommendations of the panel, along with the overall opportunity requirements and the available budget in making the final funding decisions.

COVID-19

UKRI recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities and are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of on-going work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic.

Assessment criteria

Panel members will base their assessment and single score (one to five, where one is low and five is high) on the following criteria:

  • level of novelty and innovation in the proposed approach
  • proposed activity and outcomes and outputs
  • feasibility of delivery within the six-month timescale
  • capability of the team to deliver.

In terms of the proposed activity, please ensure you comment on:

  • the vision for your proposal, including:
    • aims
    • target audiences
    • activities
    • outcomes
  • how you will monitor and evaluate your proposal, including success indicators
  • how this proposal will influence diversity and inclusion practices in your field
  • how the host organisation will support your work.

The panel will consider the overall opportunity requirements and the available budget in making the final funding decisions.

Contact details

Ask a question about this opportunity

Email:  edienrichment@nerc.ukri.org

Additional info

Programme requirements

The maximum duration of the projects is six months. Successful projects are expected to start no later than 1 December 2021 and be complete by 31 May 2022.

Successful awardees will be required to submit a summary of the research outcomes through a final case study report by October 2022. This report should cover:

  • a summary of the project
  • the details of those supported from the grant
  • the outputs and outcomes.

There will be, however, no expectation for awardees to report their research outputs through the UKRI reporting system (researchfish).

Successful awardees will also be invited to participate at a NERC organised knowledge exchange virtual meeting in October 2022. If you have any disability or individual needs that may mean you have special requirements to participate at the meeting, then the necessary adjustments will be made to enable equal access.

The timelines for this opportunity have been determined by funding restrictions related to financial year spend requirements.

Disbursement of funds

Successful projects will be funded via a one-off payment up to a maximum of £100,000. Lead institutions must invoice NERC for the cost of the project by January 2022 to ensure payment. Lead institutions will be responsible for distributing the finance to other organisations involved as necessary.

Funds will be transferred to the successful principal investigator’s research organisation in the first instance. It is then the responsibility of that organisation to disburse funds to the costed members of the partnership team.

The UK research organisation awarded the grant is responsible for the conduct and administration of the grant. It is accountable for the effective use of public funds and must therefore ensure that all grant monies are subject to proper financial management processes.

It is the research organisation’s responsibility to ensure that expenditure on collaborations is subject to robust controls to ensure value for money and propriety and that all costs should be fully vouched and maintained for possible inspection and checks by, or on behalf of, UKRI.

Support for individuals from diverse backgrounds

This scheme welcomes applications from individuals from diverse backgrounds. NERC values EDI across all its funding programmes, and actively encourages proposals from diverse groups of researchers, particularly from underrepresented groups.

Responsible research

Through our funding processes, we seek to make a positive contribution to society and the environment, not just through research outputs and outcomes but through the way in which research is conducted and facilities managed.

All NERC grant holders are to adopt responsible research practices as set-out in the NERC responsible business statement (PDF, 462KB). Responsible research is defined as reducing harm and enhancing benefit on the environment and society through effective management of research activities and facilities. Specifically, this covers:

  • the natural environment
  • the local community
  • EDI.

Grant holders should consider the responsible research context of their project, not the host institution as a whole and take action to enhance their responsible research approach where practical and reasonable.

The good research resource hub can be used as a resource to support development of responsible research.

Terms and conditions

UKRI standard terms and conditions will generally apply with some variation due to the method of payment (purchase order or invoice).

Supporting documents

EDI enrichment proposal form (DOCX, 101KB)

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