Date: 14 June 2011
A Lancaster University Staff Prize was awarded to the Understanding and Acting in Loweswater research team in June 2011. This interdisciplinaryresearch team, co-ordinated by Claire Waterton in CSEC, has been working on athree year RELU project 'Understanding and Acting in Loweswater: a Community approach to catchment management' (2007-2010). Loweswater is the name of a lake and surrounding village in Cumbria thathas suffered, particularly in the last few years,from potentially toxic blooms of blue-green algae. Part of the research involved creating a 'participatory', local- and stakeholder-relevant 'new collective', or forum, for understanding and action around these blue-green algal blooms. This was to build on theory in Science and Technology Studies (S&TS)which poses critical questions about the role of science and 'natural facts' in public policy decision-making. In practice, this meant creating a forum in which problems could be re-framed, opened up for scrutiny, and connected to issues hitherto deemed irrelevant. It also meant creating new experimental partnerships and inviting in varied forms of expertise. Much of the 2007-2010 study was intensely practical and empirical, coming close to 'participatory action research' albeit with a strong S&TS theoretical underpinning.
The award given fell into the Staff Prize category of "Above and Beyond: Engaging with the media to bridge the gap between science, technology and society; making complicated research or topics accessible and exciting to the general public, young people and non-specialists; or addressing areas of public concern and adding to public debates". The researchers who received this prize were: Stephen Maberly (CEH), Lisa Norton (CEH), Judith Tsouvalis (Sociology), Claire Waterton ( Sociology)) Nigel Watson (Geography, Lancaster Environment Centre), Ian Winfield (CEH). The researchers donated the prize money to the Loweswater Care Project, the name of the forum that was built up through the research. See the first website below for more about the project, and the second website below about the continuing work of the Loweswater Care Project.
Broadcasts about the Loweswater Care Project
BBC Radio Cumbria, Wednesday 9th May 2011, Broadcast: Cumbrian farmers are making science history:
BBC Radio Cumbria broadcast: Progress in campaign to reduce Lake District pollution,
by Martin Lewis
TV broadcast 'Country File' on 25 September 2011: featuring the farmer, Ken Bell, who was employed 1 day per week as a 'Community Researcher' on the RELU project 2007-2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b015gps5#synopsis.
Associated staff: Claire Waterton
Associated departments and research centres: Centre for the Study of Environmental Change, Geography, Lancaster Environment Centre, Sociology
Keywords: Environment, Participation, Participatory research, Science and technology studies