ACCESS - Advancing Capacity for Climate  and Environment Social Science
ACCESS - Advancing Capacity for Climate  and Environment Social Science
Visual minutes taken at the ACCESS Annual Assembly in 2022.


What is ACCESS?

ACCESS is a five-year (2022-2027) climate and environment social science project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).  Patrick Devine-Wright, ACCESS Director and Birgitta Gatersleben, ACCESS Co-Director talk about the project; what they hope will be achieved and how you can get involved.

You can also read the ACCESS PLOS Climate Journal article Placing people at the heart of climate action which explains why social science is fundamental to helping solve the climate crisis and restore our environment. Authored by ACCESS members Patrick Devine-Wright, Lorraine Whitmarsh, Birgitta Gatersleben, Saffron O’Neill, Sarah Hartley, Kate Burningham, Benjamin Sovacool, Stewart Barr and Jillian Anable.

Who are we?

The ACCESS team includes world-leading social science and interdisciplinary experts led by the Universities of Exeter and Surrey in a core team that includes

  • University of Bath
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Sussex
  • Natural Environment Social Research Network

(Natural Resources Wales, NatureScot, Natural England, Environment Agency and Forest Research)

The ACCESS core team is complemented by a wider network of expertise drawn from academic and stakeholder partners across UK devolved nations and internationally.

Partners include

  • Strathclyde University
  • Queens University Belfast
  • Cardiff University
  • Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
  • Manchester University
  • Plymouth Marine Laboratory
  • University of Sydney

Stakeholders across policy, business and civil society at local and national levels including

  • Welsh Government (WG)
  • Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE)
  • Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM)
  • National Trust (NT)
  • Academy for Social Sciences (AcSS)
  • Community Energy England (CEE)
  • Winchester Science Centre (WSC)
  • Devon and Surrey County Councils (DCC, SCC)

Leadership team

Professor Patrick Devine-Wright
University of Exeter

Professor Birgitta Gatersleben
University of Surrey

Sue Williams
Natural Resources Wales

Professor Lorraine Whitmarsh
University of Bath

Professor Benjamin Sovacool
University of Sussex

Professor Saffron O’Neill
University of Exeter

Professor Karen Bickerstaff
University of Exeter

Dr Alice Moseley
University of Exeter

Professor Sarah Hartley
University of Exeter

Professor Kate Burningham
University of Surrey

Professor Stewart Barr
University of Exeter

Professor Jillian Anable
University of Leeds

Dr Travis Coan
University of Exeter


Professor Neil Adger
University of Exeter

Professor Ian Bateman
University of Exeter

Professor Steffen Boehm
University of Exeter

Dr Catherine Caine
University of Exeter

Dr Fiona Charnley
University of Exeter

Ian Peter Christie
University of Surrey

Professor Nigel Gilbert
University of Surrey

Professor Amelia Hadfield
University of Surrey

Dr Chris Jones
University of Portsmouth

Dr Nick Kirsop-Taylor
University of Exeter

Professor Angela Druckman
University of Surrey

Professor Ruth Garside
University of Exeter

Professor Steve Hinchliffe
University of Exeter

Professor Tim Jackson
University of Surrey

Professor Matt Lobley
University of Exeter

Dr Rebecca Lovell
University of Exeter

Dr Melissa Marselle
University of Surrey

Dr Beth Brockett
Forest Research

Dr Jean-Francois Mercure
University of Exeter

Professor Clare Saunders
University of Exeter

Professor Ian Walker
University of Swansea

Professor Hywel Williams
University of Exeter

Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fellows

Dr Sarah Golding
University of Surrey

Dr Jo Hamilton
University of Exeter

Dr Steve Guilbert
University of Exeter

Dr Harry Marshall
Forest Research

Dr Michelle Spruce (completed Fellowship)
Liverpool John Moores University

Dr George Warren
University of Surrey

Dr Valentine Seymour (completed Fellowship)
University of Surrey

Dr Gerardo A. Torres Contreras (completed Fellowship)
University of Sussex

Project team

Sue Varley, Project Manager
University of Exeter

Kirstie Hatcher, Project Manager
University of Surrey

Trevor Hood, Administrator
University of Surrey

Sarah Thorn, Administrator
University of Exeter

Sarah Baker, Communications Officer
University of Exeter

Who are the ACCESS Policy and Practice Working Group?

In 2022 we set up the ACCESS Policy and Practice Working Group (PPWG). Our aim was to provide a regular forum in which social science knowledge on environmental problems could be shared between academics, officials from central and devolved governments, agencies and regulatory bodies, professional bodies and funding institutions. This is a fluid, evolving group which contains UK-wide organisations that provide useful insights and helpful challenges and provocation that guide decision-making.

If you are interested in finding out more about the PPWG please email

A circular infographic showing the organisations involved in the Policy and Practice Working Group

ACCESS Expert Database

Our network of expertise is growing.

ACCESS aims to make social science expertise more accessible. We are developing a publicly available, searchable database of social scientists and experts working in the fields of climate and environment.

It includes academics in universities as well as those working in the public sector, charities and businesses. Most of the experts have a social science background and use a mix of different methods and approaches to help  better understand people and society’s roles in addressing climate and environmental challenges.

ACCESS Ops & Leadership team at the ACCESS Assembly 2024

Our work

ACCESS consists of four areas of work which are underpinned by three Guiding Principles      Knowledge Co-Production      Equality, Diversity & Inclusion      Environmental Sustainability

1. Map, Assess and Learn

from the past experiences of social scientists to catalyse change in policy culture, institutions (e.g., civil service), businesses and civil society.

2. Empower

environmental social scientists at different learning and career stages by providing tailored training and capacity building.

3. Innovate

by creating new ideas and testing new approaches that enable social scientists to play influential, leading roles in addressing environmental challenges.

4. Champion and coordinate

environmental social scientists across the UK and internationally by providing an accessible knowledge/data hub and innovative public engagement tracker.

Work generated from these four areas can be found here

Knowledge Exchange

Explainers, insights, and reports with up-to-date analysis and commentary. Access to databases to help inform research, opinion and policies.


From novice to expert, we will be signposting/showcasing a range of training and development resources, including secondments, mentoring and networking events.


We will be responding to the current climate and biodiversity crises through our interdisciplinary task forces and bespoke rapid response service. Highlighting the impact we and other social scientists are having on environmental decision-making.

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