Ground-breaking UEA PhD scholarships to bring together climate science and creative writing

Published by  Communications

On 17th Dec 2020

Prof Corinne Le Quere

With the next ten years seen as being a profound and critical decade for climate change, the University of East Anglia (UEA) has brought together two of its most celebrated fields of study, environmental sciences and creative writing, to launch 20 prestigious new Leverhulme PhD scholarships.

The University’s successful application for the Critical Decade for Climate Change Leverhulme Doctoral Scholars (LDC) will see £1.3m of grant funding provided by the prestigious Leverhulme Trust to UEA.

The grant will be led by Prof Corinne Le Quéré, Royal Society Research Professor of Climate Change Science at UEA, as Principal Investigator. The Leverhulme Trust will support 15 of the scholars, with UEA funding the other five.

The scholars will be equipped to become leaders in climate research, using data and analysis of latest trends to identify the drivers of change in our environment and in society, while also using creative writing to pose questions as to why and how societies succeed or fail in addressing climate change and communicate answers widely. It will be the first time that researchers within the fields of climate science and creative writing have collaborated in such a way.

The scholarships will be run by the new ClimateUEA initiative, which brings together a team of experts from natural sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. The PhD scholars will be placed in UEA schools including Environmental Sciences, International Development and Creative Writing to ensure that climate science is at the heart of the University’s work as an institution over the next ten years.

Prof Corinne Le Quéré, Royal Society Research Professor of Climate Change Science at UEA, said: “We know that the 2020s will be a decade of profound change for our environment and we know that research, as it stands is too slow to help address the growing urgency of the climate crisis.

“By looking at real-world transformations in near real-time, researchers can better understand why some actions succeed while others fail, and help support and accelerate responses to climate change of the scale needed.

“This is a completely new and very exciting approach into researching climate change and I’m absolutely thrilled that we’ll be delivering it at UEA.”

The scholarships will help build on UEA’s already well-established reputation on climate change, as the home of the Climatic Research Unit and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. UEA’s School of Environmental Sciences is one of the longest established interdisciplinary institutions of its kind in Europe and was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2017 for ‘Advancing understanding and protection of the environment’.

The PhD programme will be overseen by Prof Corinne Le Quéré, and coordinated by Dr Mark Tebboth, an interdisciplinary social scientist of the environment and international development, and directed by a steering group of world-leading UEA academics from a variety of disciplines.

These include Prof Jean McNeil, award-winning environmental author and Professor of Creative Writing; Prof Mark Tebboth, lecturer in environment and international development; Prof Kenny Coventry, expert consultant on climate change communications; Prof Andy Jordan, an authority on climate change policy, politics and governance, as well as Prof Tim Osborne, Prof Robert Nicholls and others contributing a wealth of climate change expertise and insight from the Tyndall Centre and Climatic Research Unit.

Prof Fiona Lettice, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at UEA, said: “The launch of these scholarships is a game-changer for the way we approach climate research at UEA and much further afield.

“The fact that we will have the brightest young minds coming to UEA to be taught and mentored by some of the most respected academics, across a variety of disciplines, puts us right at the cutting edge of climate research and reinforces the University’s reputation as pioneers in researching what is the biggest threat facing our planet.”

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