Published on 24 July 2023
Daveron Smith – RENEW PhD Student
This meeting marked the first time that the four projects had convened in person, enabling us to compare notes and learn about each other’s structure, goals and – critically – lessons learned so far. Over the course of the week, a group of primarily ECRs learned from each other, alongside senior academics, policymakers and industry actors, about the paths and pitfalls encountered when science and policy landscapes come together. You can get a flavour of the week on the #AgileInitiative hashtag on Twitter (X).
Above: Project summaries of the NERC Changing the Environment projects, adapted from https://www.ukri.org/news/nerc-invests-40-million-in-a-green-future-for-the-uk/.
More information on the NERC Changing the Environment projects is available through each of their websites:
The four NERC Changing the Environment projects share the common goal of an interdisciplinary, solutions-based approach to research into critical environmental challenges while varying considerably in their geographical and topical focus. During the sessions, a diverse group of social, natural, disciplined and undisciplined early career researchers took part in lively and rounded conversations on current best practices and the routes to driving change.
British wetlands are just one of the critically threatened habitats RENEW and sister projects from the Agile Initiative are working to conserve. Image credit: Nick Fewings – The Unsplash Community
Each of the current Oxford Agile Sprints presented their experiences of working within a novel model of fast-paced policy-focused research. These sessions provided insights that were then applied to workshops in which groups designed and present their own ‘sprints’ while being mindful of the practicalities of the scope and outputs that a 12-month project could deliver. This creates intriguing contrasts with our own Ex-Cases work, whose ‘missions’ are faster and more focused, but will be delivered by a consistent research team working together over the whole life of RENEW.
These sessions, solidifying and formalising this knowledge, were set against a backdrop of many as-yet unanswered questions in this space which were discussed, including:
This time next year, I suspect we still won’t have all the answers but we’ll have another year of learning behind us. I look forward to seeing how the Agile Summer School organisers can feed this into next year’s sessions and provide an opportunity for representatives across the science-policy spectrum, and across career stages, to reflect and share their experience.
The Summer School provided a great introduction to the space for ECRs and began the development of a Changing the Environment community. I’ve learnt that we are all grappling with similar challenges and so will surely benefit from continuing to share knowledge of this critical yet alien landscape. So, if we don’t cross paths before then, I’ll see you at the next Agile Summer School.