NERC Public Engagement grant for White Rose Air Pollution Garden

A recent White Rose Collaboration Fund project has just been awarded a Public Engagement grant from NERC. Dr Sarah West from the University of York will lead the project, together with Dr Maria Val Martin from Sheffield and Dr Cat Scott from Leeds. Their collaboration began with Observing a changing atmosphere through educational air pollution gardens which established the first Air Pollution Garden at the Sheffield Botanical Gardens, demonstrating to the public the impacts of both NO2 and O3 on sensitive plants.

Their new project is part of the NERC Projects funded to engage public with issues of environmental science in 2017

Making the invisible visible

Project summary

Air pollution is a serious threat to the health of humans and ecosystems, yet is largely invisible and so out of the public consciousness. We will help to address this by delivering a series of public engagement events around air pollution in three UK cities: Leeds, Sheffield and York. These will provide an opportunity for dialogue between the public, researchers, voluntary organisations, council officials, and campaigning organisations about air pollution. Our series of activities will include a citizen science project involving a personal monitoring campaign, a public meeting bringing together multiple stakeholders, and a field visit to an air pollution garden. These events aim to provide a space to inform people about the issues (both in general and in their local area) and to discuss knowledge gaps and data requirements from all parties. These events will be delivered by our interdisciplinary team which brings together air pollution researchers (Universities of Leeds and Sheffield), citizen science researchers (University of York), community engagement specialists (The Conservation Volunteers TCV) and ten air pollution PhD students and early career researchers (ECRs) who we will recruit as part of this project. The PhD and ECRs will attend a 3 day residential training course led by TCV in methods for public engagement. They will then undertake five days of placement with TCV in order to gain first-hand experience of delivering public engagement activities with a range of audiences (including school groups and community organisations). During the placement, and with support from our academic partners, the PhD and ECRs will work in pairs to deliver a total of five public engagement activities of their choosing.