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Viewpoints: Bringing Water Research to Life

A collaborative engagement project with the Natural History Consortium and researchers at the University of Bath exploring water quality across the River Avon.



Project status



1 Jan 2017 to 31 Mar 2017

Young people using nets to sample invertebrate life on the River Avon
One of the Viewpoints partners carrying out activities on the River Avon with young people.

Viewpoints: Bringing Water Research to Life (2017) brought together researchers from the University of Bath with community partners from across Bristol and Bath with the aim of engaging people from across the region with current issues around water quality. Viewpoints (2017) was funded by Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) as part of a public engagement funding call to engaging the UK public with the big issues of environmental science.

Our approach

In responding to the NERC public engagement funding call, the Public Engagement Unit convened relevant community partners including the Natural History Consortium and researchers from across the University of Bath to identify key contemporary issues in environmental science that were relevant to all. We then led on the development of a project that aimed to:

  • create informed public debate on current issues of water quality in the River Avon

  • inform, interest, and inspire local residents across the West of England on current environmental issues

  • build capacity for public engagement at the University of Bath.

What we did

Viewpoints:how water shaped Bath

Over the course of the project the Viewpoints team developed a programme of activity that included:

Devised and delivered Viewpoints Bath, Bristol, Keynsham, a series of high-profile dialogue events

Viewpoints brought local residents together with researchers from the Universities of Bath, Bristol and the West of England, existing business partners such as Wessex Water, third sector organisations such as the Canal and River Trust and local government policy-makers to discuss issues relating to water quality. The events took place in Bristol, Keynsham and Bath and covered areas such as litter, pollutants and waste water runoff in Waste Water, Water Waste, history of flooding in How water shaped Bath and in Healthy Water groups discussed how antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals impact the local river sources and the risks they pose for the health of humans, farmed animals and the wider ecosystem.

Created interactive activities, displays and talks that engaged science festival attendees

Through a package of training and professional development and funding opportunity, we supported researchers at University of Bath to develop and deliver activities based on their research to inform and inspire festival attendees at science festivals, Bath Taps into Science and the Festival of Nature.

Developed a programme to build capacity for public engagement with research

Working with three key researcher groups: post-graduate and early career researchers, senior researchers and doctoral student supervisors, we created a programme of training and professional development to build capacity for public engagement. This involved:

  • working with professionals and trainers from across the Natural History Consortium to develop a training programme for post-graduate and early career researchers cover the following topics: Creativity, Understanding audiences and their needs, Listening skills, Questioning skills and Reflection and Evaluation.

  • devising short Masterclasses for senior researchers to hone their skills for policy-facing activities, public speaking skills and media training

  • developing a range of interventions from one-to-one/one-to-few advice and mentoring to seminars for doctoral student supervisors to develop their expertise in supporting students in their public engagement activities.

Tools and Guides

Using the learning from Viewpoints we've created a number of tools and guides.

Funder and partners

Viewpoints: Bringing Water Research to Life was a project in collaboration with the Natural History Consortium and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.


If you would like to know more about Viewpoints: Bringing Water Research to Life, drop us a line.