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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S012001/1
Title: Advanced Strategic Platform for Inclusive Research Environments (ASPIRE)
Principal Investigator: Hunter, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Colston, Professor BJ De Angeli, Professor A Humbert, Professor A
McKay, Professor S Bayley, Dr JE
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Emerald Publishing Limited
Department: Vice Chancellors Office
Organisation: University of Lincoln
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 23 December 2018 Ends: 22 December 2020 Value (£): 509,901
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
07 Jun 2018 Inclusion Matters Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Science, engineering and technology research is vital to the UK's future. It underpins UK performance and growth as a modern economy, informs public policies (eg. for healthy well-being and environmental sustainability), and contributes greatly to its capacity for innovation. Our research base, however, is only as good as the people who make it. Many groups (eg. women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ and those with other protected characteristics) are under-represented, particularly in leadership roles. This highlights the fact that our research base is not drawing on researchers from the entire talent pool, resulting in both lost opportunity for individuals and major, quantifiable losses to the economy and society. Until we have fully inclusive and diverse research communities, it is unlikely that our research base will achieve its full potential.

We have been striving to establish fully inclusive research environments in science- and engineering-related disciplines for over 30 years. Despite substantial investment, however, there is little evidence of significant improvement. For example, in 2016, only 19% of all UK Professors in science-related disciplines were women. The reasons behind such under-representation are complex and often system-wide. The most significant factors arise through cultures and attitudes in the workplace. If we are to build a more inclusive research environment, therefore, a step-change is required in our approach. We need to focus on long-term behavioural and culture change, rather than on improving staff statistics (eg. the number of female professors in post) and performance metrics (eg. research activity).

To address this, ASPIRE will explore existing good and bad practices in equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) from across the UK (and further afield). Through a series of consultations on needs within the sector, technical development and testing phases, ASPIRE will develop an interactive, web-based tool (set of materials, guidance and shared learning) for a range of users such as universities, businesses, charities, professional bodies, funders and EDI specialists, such as the Equality Challenge Unit. By its very nature, ASPIRE will encourage collaboration and information-sharing and support engagement by a more diverse network of institutions, participants and stakeholders through its workshops and pilot studies as the project progresses.

ASPIRE will also develop a new EDI impact framework to measure genuine and meaningful changes in attitude and behaviour across the sector. This framework will extend simple metrics-based evaluations and include more comprehensive evaluations of culture change. By providing a means to measure success (impact) in changing the culture of institutes and organisations, ASPIRE will accelerate sector wide implementation of effective EDI practice.

ASPIRE will, for the first time, provide a toolkit which is nationally available, can appropriately measure the implementation of inclusion initiatives across institutions, link implementation with meaningful markers of culture change (impact) and provide recommendations for scaling across the sector.

ASPIRE is an ambitious, yet achievable, project with a multidisciplinary and collaborative team with the expertise and clear motivation to develop this new tool. ASPIRE brings together specialists from both the private and public sectors, and includes specialists in EDI, impact and knowledge mobilisation, behavioural psychology, web-based platform design and implementation, and global leaders in policy development, researcher development and national capacity building.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.lincoln.ac.uk