Lancaster University is leading a £4.9 million initiative to train a new generation of environmental scientists equipped to tackle the challenges of a planet under pressure.

As the world economy expands, the environment is facing increasing demands to provide for a growing population hungry for goods, services and food.

Envision, which is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), is a new Doctoral Training partnership lead by a powerful group of UK researchers, equipped to provide a new generation of environmental scientists with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to take on the challenges of a changing world.

Leading UK university departments and research institutes make up the Envision consortium which comprises of researchers at the Universities of Lancaster (LU), Nottingham (UoN) and Bangor (BU), the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), the British Geological Survey (BGS) and Rothamsted Research (RRes). The initiative also involves 44 industry and NGO partners, including large multinationals, a large number of  SMEs and international research centres.

Project leader Professor John Quinton of the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University said: “The challenges of environmental science are changing and in-depth subject knowledge alone is not enough. We need to train a new breed of environmental scientist who, in addition to being an excellent scientist, has leadership skills, is able to work across disciplines and can work with business.

“Our purpose is to develop a cohort of graduate students to carry out world-class research that delivers knowledge, innovation and new practices which make a difference to our understanding of the environment and the sustainability of the planet, but who are also capable of leadership in science, policy and business.

“Our doctoral graduates will think in novel ways: they will embrace the culture and challenges of working across different disciplines; understand the importance of their science in advancing knowledge of how the earth system functions; and they will take account of the impact of their research on the economy, on policy and on innovation.”

Science and Universities minister David Willetts said:

“This significant investment highlights the Government’s commitment to supporting postgraduate training and research in the environmental sciences. We're dedicated to providing the next generation of environmental researchers with the necessary skills and training to succeed in academia and industry."

Students will benefit from:

  • Broad research themes
  • Access to leading world experts
  • Close ties with business
  • Relevant work experience
  • Leadership training

Envision will recruit 60 students – 12 PhD students per year for the next five years - starting from October 2014.