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Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Multiple colours as viewed through a microscope

Social responsibility

Social responsibility is a key pillar in the The University of Manchester's operational model. It underpins our teaching and research and informs everything that we do. We work hard to make a positive difference to the social and economic well-being of the wider community through our teaching, research, and public events and activities.

Our social responsibility strategy pursues change in the following areas:

Research impact

Our research, which focuses on many different aspects of the environment and human impacts on the earth, is naturally socially responsible, but we always strive to optimise the social impact of what we do. This includes the ways in which we use our research findings to influence government policy, work with industry or change society.

Socially responsible graduates

Our students study hard for their degrees but they also play an important role in the local community. We actively encourage and celebrate the many different ways in which they contribute to wider society, for example through volunteering or fund raising. In our school, we run an annual small grant scheme for students that provides funds to facilitate the running of social responsibility activities. We're committed to the University's Ethical Grand Challenges and Stellify initiatives that encourage students to work in socially responsible ways.

Engaging our communities

Members of our school work with local communities in many different ways; we take part in public outreach activities on both large and small scales and participate in the annual Faculty event ScienceX held at the Trafford Centre and the University Community Festival. We often run events with the Manchester Museum and many staff have active relationships with local schools for which we have been awarded a number of Royal Society partnership awards to help with school student-led science projects. We are also highly active through a range of activities in encouraging under-represented groups to apply for study in our department.

Widening Participation activities are coordinated with the help of a committee led by Dr Katherine Joy and Outreach Lead Dr Katherine Harrison.

Responsible processes

In Earth and Environmental Sciences, we make a special effort to ensure that we operate in a way that is fair to all members of the school community, regardless of who they are. We have a dedicated committee for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, that oversees processes and practices, identifies possible concerns and makes recommendations to improve the way we work. Comments and suggestions are encouraged to the chair of this committee, Dr Cathy Walton, or the director of Social Responsibility, Dr Giles Johnson. We’re proud holders of an Athena SWAN Bronze Award, an accreditation that recognises the enormous contribution and commitment of all of our staff - academic and non-academic, male and female - to equality, diversity and inclusion.

Environmental sustainability

Naturally, our Department is strongly committed to environmental sustainability. Much of our research focuses on how human societies impact on the natural environment and on how those impacts can be mitigated. This drives us to continually identify and enact more sustainable ways of working. 

The Department participates in LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework) to improve the environmental performance of their laboratories throughout the year. LEAF seeks to produce comparable data on efficiency and sustainability, through the use of in-tool calculators, thus allowing quantifiable baselines, targets, and measures to be developed. Calculators are completed by team members before and after participating. These LEAF initiatives are co-ordinated for the Department by John Waters.

More widely, The University of Manchester was recently ranked first in leading the world on sustainable development in the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, benchmarked against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.