The natural environment theme is at the centre of the ecology of the North West coastal area and its environments. The objective is to see how new data-based insights can help motivate better understanding of the complex relationship between human practice and the environment to leverage sustainable economic growth and community living. This is articulated in the development of partners interested in the topic, such as Eden North. A key goal for this theme is to make visible that relationship to the public at large in and through the design and didactic role of research. The North West is an especially interesting context for leveraging these ambitions, being not only a heavily industrialised rural economy, but also a world class tourist destination, and hence the connection between different sorts of uses and their implications for the environment and sustainability is of vital, world-wide importance. By working closely with partners like Eden North and the impacted communities, this theme is scientifically cutting edge and high impact on the public imagination.
The built environment theme is the focal point of various new regional developments, including new residential areas and the infrastructures that support them. Such developments, aided and supported by regional councils, including Lancaster Council and the County Council(s), with the additional guidance of the North West NHS and the University, aim to develop new housing community models that place environmentally sustainable living alongside reconfigured infrastructures. The task is not to simply build smart homes and townships, as it is to open up what might be new ways of travel, energy and waste management. Central to this is information enabled by IoT and data science as well as new material possibilities in energy and transport. As with the natural environment, the concerns of this theme are embedded in public discourse and through that, in longer-term regulation not just in the North West but throughout the UK.
Both the natural and built environment themes feed into and underscore the healthy living theme. To be healthy in the vision of the FPC is not a question of medical intervention, it is a question of how understanding of places can shape our ways of living. The emergence of IoT tools and techniques allow new measures of human health and its relationship to place to emerge. Through working with its partners and local communities, the centre explores new ways of uncovering relevant data on the healthy life, both as a lived experience, and as a consequence of better custodial practices with the environment. Again, the unique setting of the North West, with poor personal health medians and diverse land use and industrial practices, makes this theme not only impactful, but of national significance.