ENCOMPASS: Engaging Communities, Publics and Society

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sch of Geography, Earth & Env Sciences

Abstract

Community focused public engagement is a powerful way to bring research closer to the community that it serves; but a major obstacle is how researchers identify community groups that may benefit from such engagement. Social science and civic engagement practice has shown that significant impact may be achieved through engaging directly with communities. ENCOMPASS aims to build on this concept by introducing community organising as a central method of public engagement. Community organising goes beyond engagement activity in seeking to equip and enable communities to take ownership and drive change. By introducing environmental science researchers to community organising, ENCOMPASS will provide communities with the tools to articulate environmental issues that resonate with them and therefore enable greater shared ownership of the research agenda. This shared ownership will then lead to greater, more directed impact and open up new networks and creative possibilities for researchers. The ENCOMPASS scheme will enable researchers to identify and reach underrepresented groups and equip both parties with the understanding and tools to co-develop activities, initiatives and actions that have mutual benefits

ENCOMPASS will progress to a national scheme that recognises the improved environmental awareness and activity of community groups. Phase I will establish a partnership with CitizensUK, a community organising body whose core mission is to empower and support communities to take positive actions around social justice, policy, education and politics. CitizensUK are made up of a number of faith, community and trade union groups and have regional chapters across the UK. Citizens UK Birmingham will have the central role of assisting ENCOMPASS environmental researchers to identify community groups that may stand to benefit from environmental action. ENCOMPASS will also partner with the Earthwatch Institute, citizen science specialists, who will be instrumental in helping to introduce science and scientific concepts to community groups. Together with Citizens UK and Earthwatch the ENCOMAPSS team will co-develop a series of small community based, and led, activities and actions. This experience will be used to develop a model that can be transferred to other regional centres with the help of CitizensUK regional offices and Earthwatch's national reach. Thus ENCOMPASS Phase I is building a national consortium that will go on to bid in Phase II for the extension of community organising to a national scale and the establishment of the ENCOMPASS scheme.

This project will involve 5 small community-researcher co-developed projects that will be based around the West Midlands spanning urban and rural areas. A range of University and community locations will be used help assess how access affects engagement. These locations will include the Art Fund of the Year 2017 nominated Lapworth Museum of Geology and the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research Free Air Carbon Enrichment (BIFoR FACE) facility, aka the 'Sci-Fi Forest', in Staffordshire. In addition ENCOMPASS is supported by a list of partners that are providing significant contributions of their time and expertise in environmental sciences, education and experience in running large public engagement projects. These partners range from small community groups to schools to local councils and produce an indication off the sort of networks and range of involvement that ENCOMPASS will recruit and develop. By developing the ENCOMPASS framework model in this way we can present national partners with an adaptable and dynamic way to translate community organising across a large consortium. To this end, the major capacity that we plan to build is in learning how the dialogue between researchers and communities can build trust and establish shared interests.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description ENCOMPASS examined the practice of community organising with special reference to how environmental science research can be aligned with the concerns of communities' contemporary (environmental) issues. Our aim was to work toward a way to share the research agenda with the communities by helping to establish its relevance to them. The practice that ENCOMPASS has been examining and testing is essentially a qualitative needs analysis that relies on dynamic, reflexive and iterative ongoing evaluation. The practice is referred to as listening, because it starts with listening during 1-2-1 meetings with community leaders and selected individuals. 1-2-1 meetings need to be managed and require trained volunteers. This training is not onerous, but the involvement (at least in training) of an experienced organiser is important. The listening, builds on these meetings where a set of priorities is established during group meetings (similar to focus groups, but the term is avoided and the setting carefully chosen). There is then scope to further develop priorities or to emphasise certain key issues with a 'community walk', which could be viewed as a field trip to highlight the physical evidence of the issues (e.g. fly tipping or a polluted stream/river).
The analysis of listening aims to identify an action that will result in some reaction making progress toward change. The analysis needs to consider the power dynamic of the relevant institutions. This is how potential leaders and those with agency to act are identified within the community and relationships built accordingly between community groups, community assets, relevant institutions and (in ENCOMPASS' case) researchers and academics.
Any action is designed to provoke a reaction and to build momentum. This can include something provocative or statement making but also can be quite low key. A range of methods around consensus building, training, mentoring and publicising a cause are used at this stage and may include events such as a civic academy (key leaders convened around a workshop), an assembly of members (often a large event aimed to showcase progress and celebrate achievements and hold powerful institutions to account).
Action is where public engagement activity in the case of ENCOMPASS fits in. In many cases with ENCOMPASS, the action was around an education opportunity, providing access to University research experience to enhance social mobility, awareness raising (or environmental issues), running environmental projects with citizen science, supporting educational initiatives with environmental science. ENCOMPASS team members acting as organisers found that brokerage of environmental science research expertise and access to University facilities for communities (or individuals) was how we facilitated engagement in practice. The concepts and principles of organising are a way to help plan for, identify and evaluate impact.
Exploitation Route The practice developed by ENCOMPASS will be of use for any environmental researcher and community group that stands to benefit from research impacts and closer working relationship.
ENCOMPASS has been taken forward with a NERC Innovation Placement Fellowship (NE/S009396/1)
ENCOMPASS has formed a major element of a followup bid as part of the Engaging Environments programme
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://encompassuk.wordpress.com/
 
Description The impacts of ENCOMPASS are still very seminal but will be growing as the practice that we built capacity in takes hold. The main impacts are through partnership and relationship building with various community groups including faith, schools and community associations. The main partnership with environmental science and Citizens UK is where future impact with grow form these associations.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Community organizing workshop
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Contribution to civic engagement and priorities for a regional civil alliance. Encompass contributed to understanding need for paid opportunites for work placements for young people. This has featured as a key priority in the 2020 Citizens UK accountability assembly for the West Midlands Regional Mayoral elections.
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/citizens-uk-mayoral-police-commissioner-assembly-2020-tickets-9692357...
 
Description Stevenson joined Citizens UK Birmingham Leadership group as representative of the University of Birmingham
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Innovation People
Amount £34,996 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/S009396/1 
Organisation University of Birmingham 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2018 
End 07/2019
 
Description NERC Community for Engaging Environments
Amount £1,317,801 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/S017437/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2019 
End 07/2022
 
Description Citizens UK 
Organisation Citizens UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Our role was to provide access to environmental science research to community organizing
Collaborator Contribution Citizens UK provided trainng and mentoring in community organising as well as organiser time
Impact Joint training workshops
Start Year 2017
 
Description Various community groups 
Organisation Abbery and Malvern Hills Geopark
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Assisting with community organising and links to environmental research and researchers
Collaborator Contribution Community groups providing time and local knowledge about issues that concerns their members and communities
Impact Variety of engagement activities and events including workshops, visits, projects and training
Start Year 2017
 
Description Various community groups 
Organisation Aspire & Succeed
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Assisting with community organising and links to environmental research and researchers
Collaborator Contribution Community groups providing time and local knowledge about issues that concerns their members and communities
Impact Variety of engagement activities and events including workshops, visits, projects and training
Start Year 2017
 
Description Various community groups 
Organisation Bewdley School
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Assisting with community organising and links to environmental research and researchers
Collaborator Contribution Community groups providing time and local knowledge about issues that concerns their members and communities
Impact Variety of engagement activities and events including workshops, visits, projects and training
Start Year 2017
 
Description Various community groups 
Organisation Cannon Hill Park Friends
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Assisting with community organising and links to environmental research and researchers
Collaborator Contribution Community groups providing time and local knowledge about issues that concerns their members and communities
Impact Variety of engagement activities and events including workshops, visits, projects and training
Start Year 2017
 
Description Various community groups 
Organisation Friends of Highbury Park
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Assisting with community organising and links to environmental research and researchers
Collaborator Contribution Community groups providing time and local knowledge about issues that concerns their members and communities
Impact Variety of engagement activities and events including workshops, visits, projects and training
Start Year 2017
 
Description Various community groups 
Organisation Friends of Riverside North Park
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Assisting with community organising and links to environmental research and researchers
Collaborator Contribution Community groups providing time and local knowledge about issues that concerns their members and communities
Impact Variety of engagement activities and events including workshops, visits, projects and training
Start Year 2017
 
Description Various community groups 
Organisation Hereford and Worcester Earth Heritage Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Assisting with community organising and links to environmental research and researchers
Collaborator Contribution Community groups providing time and local knowledge about issues that concerns their members and communities
Impact Variety of engagement activities and events including workshops, visits, projects and training
Start Year 2017
 
Description Various community groups 
Organisation Nansen Primary School
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Assisting with community organising and links to environmental research and researchers
Collaborator Contribution Community groups providing time and local knowledge about issues that concerns their members and communities
Impact Variety of engagement activities and events including workshops, visits, projects and training
Start Year 2017
 
Description Various community groups 
Organisation St Francis RC Primary School
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Assisting with community organising and links to environmental research and researchers
Collaborator Contribution Community groups providing time and local knowledge about issues that concerns their members and communities
Impact Variety of engagement activities and events including workshops, visits, projects and training
Start Year 2017
 
Description Various community groups 
Organisation The Wildlife Trusts
Department Surrey Wildlife Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Assisting with community organising and links to environmental research and researchers
Collaborator Contribution Community groups providing time and local knowledge about issues that concerns their members and communities
Impact Variety of engagement activities and events including workshops, visits, projects and training
Start Year 2017
 
Description Various community groups 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Assisting with community organising and links to environmental research and researchers
Collaborator Contribution Community groups providing time and local knowledge about issues that concerns their members and communities
Impact Variety of engagement activities and events including workshops, visits, projects and training
Start Year 2017
 
Description Various community groups 
Organisation Wyre Forest District Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Assisting with community organising and links to environmental research and researchers
Collaborator Contribution Community groups providing time and local knowledge about issues that concerns their members and communities
Impact Variety of engagement activities and events including workshops, visits, projects and training
Start Year 2017
 
Description Aspire and Succeed Spring clean-up with Lozells in Bloom 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Aspire and Succeed - involvement in spring clean-up and ongoing support around the impact of Lozells in Bloom. Working toward producing an asset interactive map based on Aspire's work to enable the next stage of development and consider how impact can be monitored and measured. Along with other CUK members working on joining how access to safe green space can help uptake of modal shift in transport.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://encompassuk.wordpress.com/actions/
 
Description Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in Birmingham and community organising 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Clean Air Zone, Birmingham

The introduction of Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in Birmingham to lower the levels of predominantly transport derived pollutants below the legal limit, is welcomed by the membership of project partners Citizen UK. However, there is concern that less affluent areas within the zone would be hit hardest by the charge to enter the zone in an older vehicle; this charge is unavoidable to those who live, work or worship within the zone. Citizens UK members and local communities adjacent to the CAZ were supported by ENCOMPASS during a meeting with council representatives, to secure a working relationship on implementing a range of alternative measures that will be needed in order for the CAZ scheme to meet the legal emissions levels. These alternative measures include improvements to sustainable transport links and green infrastructure; by working with the University of Birmingham it is clear these communities can continue to benefit from environmental research undertaken at the University.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://encompassuk.wordpress.com/actions/
 
Description Ecology project with school and park friends 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Park friends group in Worcestershire town concerned with how the park is used and the demography of useers missing mainly young people. Our team helped to linkt he park friends group with the local secondary school to run an ecology monitoring project as part of the school's Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Nansen Primary Forest School 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Nansen Primary - Sustainable Development Goals and local wildlife monitoring activity to support forest school teacher and embed environmental aspects in the curriculum. Forest school habitat and area zoning to understand practical and habitat management of site to enhance its ability to deepen the curriculum. Practical support for development of onsite food growing and its link to natural environment.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Paid work experience in a research laboratory 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Handsworth Wood Girls Academy - Work placements. Provision of curriculum deepening through activity sessions for GCSE and A level biology from undergraduate and ECR volunteers. Continued support around development of an 'Eco-club'. School's support for Phase II bid to represent young people and future environmental careers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://encompassuk.wordpress.com/actions/
 
Description Visit to BIFoR with Friends of Highbury Park 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Friends of Highbury Park (Including Birmingham City Council Ranger Service & Birmingham Black Country Wildlife Trust - Visit to BIFoR and consideration of how Nature Improvement Area Development aligns with the future requirement for forest areas in urban settings
Student placement to provide academic support and to help incorporate recent advances in habitat understanding to the habitat management plan produced by the friends and allied groups (Chamberlain & Highbury Trust, Highbury Orchard Community and Birmingham Beekeepers).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://encompassuk.wordpress.com/actions/
 
Description development of onsite food growing and habitat provision 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact St Francis Primary - Practical support for development of onsite food growing and habitat provision and it link to health natural environment and mental/physical health. Ongoing work around environmental issues in terms of rights respecting school.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description helping KSIMC Going Green initiative 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Assisting KSIMC Birmingham with a 'Going Green' initiative. This involved working with the Going Green committee to help promote the initiative and gain buy in form the community and Mosque leadership. This involved attending committee meetings and helping to set up a workshop for a Saturday faith school with Earthwatch
KSIMC - Sustainable Development Goals and local wildlife monitoring activity with children's group and continued commitment to develop understanding around use of plastics and the positive impact of reducing their use within the mosque
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://encompassuk.wordpress.com/actions/