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Sustainability of Communities and the Environment

We work at a local and global level to pinpoint the changes needed to protect our planet.

Economic and technological progress has come at a cost. The global disruption of the balance of nature is threatening the survival of many species, including our own. One of today’s big challenges is how to use our knowledge to find new ways of living together with nature.

Social, political, technological, cultural and philosophical – the issues we need to overcome are diverse.

Changing local and global communities requires insight into what to focus on and how. It also relies on the courage to address and abolish inequalities, damaging practices and unsustainable ways of working.

But we also need a vision of what is possible.

The motivation to change things must be rooted in the hope that we, as a species and as a planet, have all to live for. From arts to science, from business to health and everything in between, the community of students and staff at is nurturing that hope, without which nothing can be achieved.

How we help

We’re solving complex challenges that rely on a combination of expertise. To find sustainable ways of living and working, we bring together all disciplines across the university and beyond.

  • Policy – we work with businesses, governments, NGOs and community organisations, to design new ways of organising human affairs to create fairer societies.
  • Science – we are increasing basic scientific understanding of ecology and health to support new, better-informed approaches to public health and biodiversity.
  • Education research and arts practice – we help people tap into their imagination and think about better futures for the planet. We also explore the stories we tell ourselves and others about how we got to where we are and use creativity to change this narrative.
making an impact

Making an Impact

Helping the next generation protect the planet

Small lifestyle and behavioural changes can have profound implications for tackling climate issues. researchers worked with the London Borough of Barnet to develop ways of including young children in imagining sustainable futures and building up environmental awareness.

Minibeasts of Barnet focused on how 'small things can make a big difference’, encouraging children, with their families and carers, to take personal responsibility for the spaces they share with even the smallest of creatures. The project was shaped by activities that encouraged children to experiment and explore.

By working with teachers and tapping into the work already underway, the team took a collaborative approach and worked with local school communities. The activities, books and resources used in each school were adapted to what emerged throughout the project. A children’s book Minibeasts of Barnet, based on this project, was published in July 2024.

For further information, see the

Watch Professor Jayne Osgood talk about the Mini beasts video thumbnail

Can four-year-olds teach us how to be connected to nature?

Four-year-olds have the capacity to be open to surprises and to explore through the senses. They do not set themselves up as experts about a given thing. 

Mini Beasts of Barnet has been an arts-based project. It's very much about working with children through creative methods, to think about and engage with very small creatures and how they experience living in Barnet. 

So it's about bringing the connection of being an inhabitant of a local London borough. We've been on nature trails, we've collaged. It’s also about movement so we've been moving as spiders or ants on hot sand and trying to think with our senses.

It's very much an intergenerational project as well. The idea is that children become the teachers through doing, and adults as a result have shifts in their behaviours and attitudes towards their responsibilities to the local environment and the global environment. 

There's a philosophy that underpins it, and the philosophy is that humans, mini beasts, children, we all have an equal stake in planet Earth. So it's about building a sense of collective responsibility for planet Earth, the environment, as it's experienced within the borough of Barnet.

Watch Professor Jayne Osgood talk about the Mini beasts

knowledge action
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We create new knowledge and put it into action. We benefit society, the economy, the environment, health and wellbeing, and culture and communities.

Strategy 2031

Discover the vision driving us forward into the next decade