Formerly the Centre for the Study of Risk and Inequality, the Centre for Sustainability, Equality and Climate Action is a new research centre bringing together cross-faculty academic and directorate staff, graduate students and industry professionals to address pressing socio-ecological challenges from an interdisciplinary and engaged perspective.

Queen’s produces excellent research in sustainability, climate, low carbon energy through ecosystem analysis, public health and social science approaches and the Centre enables consistent communication across disciplinary boundaries and encourages collaboration across faculties and directorates. The Centre adopts broad definitions and understandings of the ‘sustainability’, ‘equality’ and ‘climate action’ to be inclusive of research from across the University.

Research Themes

  • Interdisciplinary approaches (including new methodologies) to understanding the interconnections between socio-economic (in)equality and the interlinked climate and ecological crisis and formulating appropriate responses in terms of policymaking, governance, political activism and action, economic thinking and practices, public health etc.;
  • Identifying best practice and innovation (across technological, social and policy fields) from across the globe and all bodies of knowledge and research appropriate for adapting to solving local or sectoral problems and/or applicable to addressing planetary scale climate, ecological and justice/equality problems;
  • Understanding the low carbon energy transition and the creation of climate resilient communities, regenerative and inclusive economies, healthy, prosperous and sustainable societies;
  • Engaged and transdisciplinary partnership-based research involving citizens, businesses, civil society organisations, government, political parties, movements and policymakers;
  • Enabling Centre members to collaborate on embedding interdisciplinary and engaged sustainability research within their teaching at QUB;
  • To work with QUB directorates, staff and initiatives across research, teaching, estates/procurement and public engagement to help QUB deliver on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Research Objectives

There are four key objectives of the Centre;

  1. To determine the main root causes of the climate and biodiversity crises and discover where the knowledge gaps to helping formulate effective, inclusive and democratic sustainability solutions exist.
  2. To find the obstacles from a systemic perspective to a transition towards a low carbon, regenerative and less unequal economy and society, identifying where these obstacles are most acute and finding out why.
  3. To establish the most effective interdisciplinary methods of working towards addressing different dimensions of the planetary crisis and ‘living sustainably’.
  4. To identify the role of the university, both as a local anchor institution within Belfast / Northern Ireland and as part of the global academic community at this time of crisis and transformative opportunity.

The three pillars of the Centre are at the forefront of funded challenge-led projects in the UK and world-wide. This is reflected in their being major themes for research funders. Many Research Councils have included the themes of the Centre in recent highlight notices with ESRC and NERC focusing on climate action and Innovate UK and STFC centring sustainability. The EU’s Horizon 2020 framework has identified all three themes within their opportunities. Sustainability, Equality and Climate Action will continue to grow as funded themes as they relate to the climate crisis, one of the major challenges faced this century. The Centre aims to provide opportunities for interdisciplinary and collaborative research highlighting these themes, offering members experience in such mutual learning and giving a strategic advantage in future funding bids.