ACCESS - Advancing Capacity for Climate  and Environment Social Science
ACCESS - Advancing Capacity for Climate  and Environment Social Science
Person looking at opened laptop with hands gesturing towards the screen




Environmental Social Science is essential to help address environmental issues such as climate change and environmental degradation, which are ultimately social issues. However, the value of Environmental Social Science is often underestimated, and it can be challenging for environmental social scientists within and outside of academia to explain to colleagues, funders and decision-makers how useful and important they are.

ACCESS is taking a co-productive approach to the creation of a definition, dimensions and operationalisation of what we mean by Environmental Social Science.

The following reports used information gathered from a survey and interviews (2023) conducted with environmental social scientists in academic and non-academic roles to help build a shared understanding of Environmental Social Science. Both reports were referred to in the webinar, Why do we need Environmental Social Sciences? with Birgitta Gatersleben.

Plastic question marks on a table with two lit up

What is Environmental Social Science?

This report focuses on what the participants considered the range of social sciences that can and should be included in the list, the different social groups that can and should be studied, and the different types of environments and environmental issues that can and should be examined. The interviews also highlighted the range of different goals of research in this area, from understanding complex people-environment interactions to testing the impact of specific behaviour change interventions.

Overall, the surveys and interviews confirmed the need to develop a clear definition and description of ESS that can be used to champion the field.

Infographic showing the factors that influence the intergration of social science into policy and practice

What factors influence Environmental Social Science inclusion in policy and practice?

In this report authors Birgitta Gatersleben, George W. Warren, Valentine Seymour, Harry Marshall, and Gerardo A. Torres Contreras determined there were five themes that could influence Environmental Social Science impact on policy and practice in both positive and/or negative ways from the interviews; (1) Perceived Value; (2) Accessibility; (3) Problem Framing, and (4) Networks. In addition, Timings and Relevance was a fifth thematic factor elicited by participants as hindering further integration of ESS into policy and practice.


Since our first ACCESS Annual Assembly in 2022, we have been evaluating our events.

Early in the planning for the Assembly, we decided we wanted to welcome in-person and online visitors. It was important for us to:

  • Invite people from various disciplines and champion the benefits of collaboration and co-production.
  • Be inclusive and offer equally enriching experiences and networking opportunities to those in the room and those sitting at their desktop.
  • Experiment and move away from the conference norm of short presentation slots and parallel sessions over lunch to something more relaxed that would allow people to think, ask questions and connect with others.
  • Incorporate our Guiding Principles (EDI, Environmental Sustainability and Knowledge Coproduction)

From planning to evaluation, the report focuses on venue hire, accommodation, event programme, audio & visual technology, networking opportunities and how to incorporate our Guiding Principles.

  • Guidance for Planning and Hosting a Successful Hybrid Event – Reflections from the ACCESS Annual Assembly 2022 report
  • ACCESS Assembly 2022 Event Evaluation report
  • ACCESS Assembly 2023 Event Evaluation report
In the lecture hall at the ACCESS Assembly in 2023
Workshop at the Leadership College
Workshop at the 2023 Summer School


Discover what lessons we learned from administering Round 1 of the Flex Fund. We hope these insights will be useful to other organisations administering funds.

  • Flex Fund Evaluation report
  • Reflections on setting up a Flex Fund report
Light bulbs hanging from the ceiling


The ACCESS Data Exchange is a signposting application that will provide a search tool, quick start guides and further information about a collection of UK environmental social science-related datasets which have been produced by a range of different organisations.

This includes datasets from official government statistics to climate-focused opinion surveys.

The aim of this tool is to aid environmental social scientists in accessing and using datasets to support research and decision-making in solving climate and environmental problems.

The data exchange is being created by the Data Working Group, data providers and users in government, universities and other public organisations. If you would like to learn more about the group and the project please contact us.

Watch our ACCESS Data Exchange session at ACCESS Assembly 2023 for the latest update.

Data Exchange working group


This is a bespoke request service for Environmental and Climate Research and Analysis.

We can

  • Offer advice and feedback on policy questions, proposals or ideas.
  • Help scope and frame research requirements.
  • Provide a bridging point between professionals and social scientists working across the environment and climate domain.

We have worked with a range of groups including Defra, BEIS/DESNZ, the Welsh Government, the Northern Ireland Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and Forest Research.

A two people handshake


We are developing a media monitoring tool which tracks a wide range of social media and traditional news media.

The team are currently

  • Looking at different ways people could interrogate the data
  • Finalising the initial list of news sources, social media platforms and account lists
  • Developing a user friendly front-end dashboard.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions for the media monitor please  contact us

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