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A new leadership college for Environmental Social Sciences to tackle climate change

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A call-out for applications has launched for a new Leadership College for Environmental Social Science.  ACCESS (Advancing Capacity for Climate and Environment Social Sciences) a government-funded project, is responding to the need to include social science in environmental and climate decision-making. 

Policymakers and practitioners are starting to recognise the need to better understand how individuals, communities and wider society are key to transitioning us to a sustainable and biodiverse environment and net zero society. The Leadership College is centred around an annual 3-day retreat, where emerging leaders who are using social science to tackle environmental problems come together to learn from international experts and each other. The Leadership College will run over four years with the same participant cohort.

Dr Saffron O’Neill from the University of Exeter explains why the Leadership College is so important.

“The social sciences offer essential insights that are needed to effectively tackle the major environmental challenges – from the biodiversity crisis to climate change – facing us today. Yet often these insights are overlooked in favour of, for example, technological fixes: which might seem initially appealing, but which underestimate the social dimensions of policy and practice interventions. The ACCESS Leadership College will focus on and invest in developing this crucial next generation of social science innovators and leaders across academia, the public sector, NGOs and charities, and the business sector.”

She further explains “We are looking for environmental social scientists who can demonstrate emerging leadership, and who are enthusiastic about working in an interdisciplinary way to champion the use of social science to tackle environmental problems. Fellows will be working as catalysts for change within their own organisation, within their sector, or beyond. If this sounds like you, we want to hear from you.”

A cohort of people from diverse sectors (academia, public sector, NGOs and charities, business) will be selected. Applications are welcome from a diverse range of backgrounds and those who may require additional support to enable participation. The first of the four College annual retreats will be held 26-28 April 2023 at Dartington Hall in Devon, with a focus on ‘Health, Wellbeing and the Environment’. Subsequent retreats will focus on different issues of topical concern for environmental social science.

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