Funders are increasingly seeking evidence that the research it commissions helps meet the needs of the planet and its people by evidencing the types of impact produced, whether intentional or serendipitous.
Researchers sometimes find it difficult to understand sustainability in a way that can be meaningfully applied to their own research interest. Sustainability however can be defined using science-based principles and can be applied across a breadth of research disciplines. This provides a common language to facilitate collaborations outside of the researcher’s natural setting that extends to interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary research on a trajectory towards meeting a common goal.
An understanding of sustainability in a wider context, enables a clearer definition that can be applied to specialised and focused research areas whist ensuring awareness of the impact that perpetuates in societies and the environment. By doing so we are able to avoid unintended consequences of actions our research may otherwise generate.
Some say sustainability provides constraints on research, slowing it down. For example, by applying a sustainability ‘lens’ impacts that may have a long term sustainability impact may be identified in the initial research proposal. This may require a redesign of the research approach to avoid such impacts. This should help develop better research that delivers benefits to the whole system and may produce novel and low impact research outcomes. Such ‘creative tension’ can provide better research, more relevant to the world we have a part in designing.
Research groups at Greenwich working integrating sustainability can be found via this link.
This presentation will help illustrate the relevance and value that sustainability can bring to research (part of a presentation to a conference at Greenwich in May 2016).
To assist staff at Greenwich the Sustainable Development Unit is providing training for researchers. This illustrates how sustainability is an asset in research, illustrating tools that can be used to help in the application of sustainability in the process of research development and delivery. Contact Greenwich Research and Enterprise for more information.
A selection of examples of research integrating sustainability being undertaken at Greenwich: