Centre for Environment and Society (CES)

Part of Essex Business School

Picture of road through fields

We are committed to informing the global transition to a green economy

We bring together world-leading, impact-focused research on all aspects of sustainability science being undertaken at our University.

We work closely with a range of local, regional, national and international groups, developing and deepening these relationships to enhance understanding, engagement and impact. With a diverse range of members, our Centre is home to a number of staff from a variety of departments, including; Literature, Film, and Theatre StudiesSchool of Life SciencesEssex Business SchoolEconomicsSociology, and Government.

We bring together world-leading and impact-focused research on all aspects of sustainability science being undertaken at our University, including significant expertise on the social dimensions of sustainability challenges and solutions. Throughout our research and delivery to the wider community, we are committed to informing the global transition to a green economy which supports environmental well-being and social and economic justice.

We act as an incubator of community enterprises, a knowledge hub for green business and policy-makers communities local to Essex and around the world, local and international businesses, partner academic organisations and as consultant to local sustainability initiatives.

Our aims
  • To be a strong hub for research at Essex on environmental issues, including how environmental issues interact with society, which builds cross-disciplinary connections to produce world-changing environmental research.
  • To act as a beacon for Education for Sustainability, inculcating a sense of responsibility in our students and deepening their knowledge of environmental issues.
  • To be a strong environmental partner to the University and to the local community, working to enhance the local environment and catalysing students to act as ‘change agents’ for sustainability.

Our Centre

Our management structure

Our current structure includes a Director (currently in Essex Business School), six members drawn from the faculties who form a Collaborative Board, together with the University’s Chief Scientific Adviser for Essex County Council. The Collaborative Board was designed to include two faculty members from each faculty, who would act as a point of contact within the departments for us to disseminate information and contribute to our activities and planning.

Our research, funding and outreach

Our research

We form strong intra and inter institute networks to build research teams around a number of key topics, including the blue economy, building city resilience and sustainability, and energy justice. Our members embody a wide range of environmental research expertise, including robotic assessment of pollutants, domestic and city air pollution, estuary and river processes, human rights to energy and food, green exercise and health, behaviours for greener economies, health and well-being services from ecosystems, literature of the wild, the cultures of nature, disaster and or hazards risks and resilience, and climate change governance.

Our funding

Our members have submitted research bids on a number of themes, including local food and green exercise. Members have also been actively seeking funding opportunities on both an individual and group basis, and we have been working with members to encourage research-generating activities and share contacts and ideas. Some of our members cemented grants from Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), British Academy (BA), Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and World Bank (WB).

Our outreach

Our members organise annual conferences, workshops and film series bringing key scholars and practitioners from external organisations such as key corporate sector leaders, Non-Governmental Organisational (NGO) representatives and government level policy makers to cement links, and generate funding opportunities and impact. We have also developed institutional collaborations with external organisations such as Joint Centre for Disaster Research (JCDR) - University of Massey, International Center for Ocean Governance (ICOG), Western Sydney University, and Social Policy Analysis and Research Centre (SPARC) - University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Our teaching

Sustainability-oriented teaching is a key feature across our University and partner organisations. We work on increasing the scope and depth of this teaching across undergraduate courses. For example, the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies runs the interdisciplinary MA in Wild Writing: Literature, Landscape and the Environment. Opportunities for knowledge exchange and work experience are integrated into teaching through short, research-focused placements with local businesses and organisations.

We run programmes which analyse the potential for educational offerings, including non-credit bearing interdisciplinary summer courses available to both undergraduates and postgraduate students on an optional basis. We have successfully implemented a Certificate in Sustainable Practice Summer School since 2017. The students were provided with seminars and training on sustainability philosophy as well as being given opportunity to work on group projects on issues that impact the University and community. These non-credit bearing short courses will provide a platform for our Centre to develop a coherent Education for Sustainability strategy of the University in line with national and global norms. These interdisciplinary courses are designed to enhance student employability.

Knowledge exchange

Our research is focused on real-world impact with researchers and students closely involved in engaging end-users at all stages of research from design to delivery. We have significant expertise in the design and use of participatory methodologies in various types of research projects. We actively promote knowledge-exchange within our University and with all of our stakeholders, including:

• communities local to Essex and around the world
• local and international businesses
• partner academic organisations
• grassroots activists

We also work closely with the University and community-based sustainability and environmental action groups, such as University of Essex Estates, Employability and Careers centre and Enactus UK.

As highlights of our knowledge exchange activities, our colleagues have worked with the United Nations’ Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), achieved World Bank contracts for the Public Financial Management (PFM) projects and participated in the Academic Think Tanks of Heathrow Airport Expansion project.

Contact us
Contact us
Centre for Environment and Society (CES) University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Telephone: 01206 874281
Essex Business School University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, CO4 3SQ
Telephone: 01206 873333