- 17 October 2022
- 1 minute
The Royal College of Art, in collaboration with the University of York's Stockholm Environment Institute and Wrexham Glyndŵr University, has been awarded £3.3 million by UKRI's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to establish the Ecological Citizens NetworkPlus, over four years.
Bringing together a multidisciplinary team of experts in design, science and technology, ‘Ecological Citizens: Tools, Technologies and Means to Enable Sustainable Citizens’ aims to tackle the ecological and climate crisis by using the digital economy to catalyse sustainable change beyond individual actions.
As a research network, Ecological Citizens will mobilise diverse groups of people to make impactful change through accessible technology and community-focused approaches – including citizen science, activism, collective learning, advocacy, design strategies, manufacturing, environmental science and engineering practices.
The network has the potential to cover a wide range of pressing topics from biomaterials and wildlife corridors to local manufacturing and repair, and will draw on expertise from across the RCA, as well as other academic, business and civil society partners.
The grant awarded by EPSRC includes three rounds of seed funding which will be available to support innovative startups and pilots devising new-found ways to engage people with nature.
Ecological Citizens is led by Dr Rob Phillips (Senior Tutor in Design Products, School of Design, RCA) with Professor Sharon Baurley (Director of the RCA’s Materials Science Research Centre) and Tom Simmons (Head of Programme, Digital Direction, School of Communication, RCA), in partnership with Dr Sarah West of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York and Professor Alec Shepley of the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology at Wrexham Glyndŵr University, as well as a range of non-academic partners from industry, charities, culture and civil society.
“This exceptional funding from EPSRC demonstrates how important design is in tackling the ecological and climate crisis challenging us. It also gives us reason for great optimism, by showing an acknowledgement of the role that collaboration can play, not just across different disciplines at the RCA, or different universities, but across communities, industries and societies in achieving a sustainable balance between human activity and nature.”Vice-Chancellor, Royal College of Art
“The Wildlife Trusts are incredibly excited by the potential of an Ecological Citizens Network. We believe that it is local people that hold the power to create change – and we are committed to supporting and empowering communities of all kinds to unleash this potential. Everyone needs, and can benefit from, a wilder future, and creating access to technology to build different and deeper connections to nature is part of that journey. The Wildlife Trusts are right behind this exciting partnership and can’t wait to see the impact it will have on nature and communities up and down the country.”Director of Campaigning and Communities at The Wildlife Trusts