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SHAPE sustainability impact projects 2021: get involved!

Rachel Soper
August 16, 2021

We are currently seeking institutions across the UK to take part in the second year of our SHAPE Sustainability Impact Projects initiative, an applied learning opportunity for students from the arts, humanities and social sciences. Staff from each participating institution will pitch real-world local sustainability challenges to interdisciplinary teams of their students who will then work over the following months to problem-solve these challenges, with support from SOS-UK and the British Academy.

The project is collaborative initiative between the British Academy and SOS-UK which uses an applied learning ‘living laboratory’ model to demonstrate the importance of the arts, humanities and social sciences in generating sustainability solutions. Following on from the successful conclusion of the 2020-21 pilot (see report here), we are launching Phase II for 2021-22 and we are seeking 4-5 universities to take part in this fully funded project, launching this September!

The project aims to engage students and academics in realising the relevance and impact of their disciplines in tackling environmental, social, and economic sustainability challenges. Students’ and academics’ own institutions, as well as the local community, will serve as the testbed for their ideas, enabling an understanding of the impact of their field of study in a local and hands-on context. The project adopts British Academy’s use of the term SHAPE to describe Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts for the People and the Economy/Environment. Project outputs will offer tangible examples of how students from these disciplines can, and are, demonstrating this.

Why take part?

  • Fully funded by the British Academy, with grant funding available for project implementation and legacy.
  • Support and training provided by SOS-UK (including building and maintaining links with the local community and applying different disciplines to sustainability solutions).
  • Project-based support to maximise the impact of projects and develop student skills, which will be bespoke and reactive to the students’ project plans (such as team work, monitoring impact, presenting findings).
  • Support to champion equality, diversity and inclusion within the projects (including the student recruitment phase).
  • Carbon Literacy training and certification (approved by the Carbon Literacy project) offered free of charge for all student project leaders.
  • The opportunity to collaborate with and learn from other universities and community to organisations.
  • The chance for students at your university to co-create solutions to some of your biggest sustainability challenges.
  • Respond to student demand for relevant and applied learning opportunities focusing on sustainable development.


A full overview of the project can be viewed here. Please email Rachel.Soper@sos-uk.org to discuss the project or express interest in taking part, before Friday 10th September 2021. There is no cost to institutions or students for participation and there will be grant funding available to ensure project implementation and legacy locally, but spaces are very limited. We will be selecting the final institutions based on regional diversity and the potential to reach a diverse range of students from across the arts, humanities and social sciences.