GALLANT: Empowering Glasgow Communities for Climate Resilience and Biodiversity Conservation

Ria Dunkley (GB), Florence Halstead (GB), Sarah Gambell (GB), Becky Duncan (GB)

GALLANT (Glasgow as a Living Lab Accelerating Novel Transformation) is an ambitious five-year project funded through NERC's 'Changing the Environment' programme, led by the University of Glasgow. With a vision of Glasgow as a living laboratory, GALLANT aims to design, implement, and test a scalable, translatable systems approach that addresses multiple environmental and well-being challenges in urban settings. The project, comprising five novel environmental Work Packages (WPs) alongside three cross cutting Workstreams (WSs), is designed to drive systemic transformation in post-industrial urban landscapes. Underpinning GALLANT's ethos was integrating nature into urban environments to deliver climate resilience, carbon mitigation, social, health, and well-being benefits while fostering innovation and economic development through a social and ecological lens. 

As the Community Collaboration Research team for GALLANT, our role centres on facilitating a highly praised five-year community science research programme developed in collaboration with stakeholders across Glasgow. Our approach prioritises inclusivity, ensuring diverse community voices shape and participate actively in the research process. We engage with community groups, public sector organisations, local councils, and community organisations, fostering partnerships to drive social innovation and community building. Throughout the project, we conduct research activities divided into five phases, focusing on engaging communities as active participants and, where welcomed, as co-researchers. By valuing and incorporating diverse perspectives, local knowledge, and community input, our research methodology, which is a blend of creative and scientific practices, prioritises inclusivity and community-driven decision-making, resulting in impactful and relevant research outcomes. In January 2024, we initiated mini gatherings in 3 established hub areas to collaborate with participants to identify key themes and questions to shape our research projects. We commenced five projects to address local environmental challenges and foster community empowerment. We uphold the principles of open science, ensure the accessibility and interoperability of data, and contribute to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), fostering environmental sustainability and societal well-being. We used innovative approaches to engage communities, blending creative and scientific practices to communicate research findings effectively. We value community input and believe that community involvement is crucial to the success of this project.

We give special thanks to the community collaborators, without whom this project would have been impossible.

We would also like to thank the community groups, organisations, and venues that supported us in our local research and the delivery of participatory workshops and the GALLANT Community Collaboration Steering Group for their guidance.

Thanks to the wider GALLANT team, notably Principal Investigator Professor Jaime Toney for supporting our research approach.

Thank you to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) for funding the GALLANT programme.

Dr Ria Dunkley (GB) is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow’s School of Education, specialising in Geography, Environment, and Sustainability. Her research is all about finding ways to help people engage with their environment and climate crises, and she’s particularly interested in how communities can make a difference by taking sustainable actions. Dr Dunkley lead the Community Collaboration Research in GALLANT.

Dr Florence Halstead (GB) With experience spanning numerous research projects working directly with children, youth, families, communities and schools, Florence works across a broad spectrum of topics, most prominently Children’s Rights, Social Justice, Sustainability and Climate Change. Primarily working at the interface between these, she takes a reflexive approach to her research and is able to respond to changing and challenging situations both efficiently and effectively. Dr Halstead is a Postdoctoral researcher within the Community Collaboration Research workstream in GALLANT.

Dr Sarah Gambell (GB) is a post-doctoral researcher with the GALLANT project and has a previous background in antiquities trafficking and management of cultural heritage assets in conflict. After completing her PhD investigating the long-term digital sustainability of digitised cultural heritage, she shifted her focus to data visualisations related to spatial mapping techniques. Dr Gambell is a Postdoctoral researcher within the Community Collaboration Research workstream in GALLANT.

Becky Duncan (GB) is a participatory facilitator & photographer, specialising in social documentary photography. Becky founded Open Aye CIC in 2010 to provide photography and participatory projects for Scotland’s third sector. Becky led the photo voice walks that were part of the first phase of the GALLANT Community Collaboration Research.

GALLANT project empowers Glasgow communities through citizen science, fostering collaboration and addressing social, environmental and economic challenges. GALLANT drives positive change through engagement activities, qualitative research and policy advocacy. The project work, including inclusive finance policy change and community wellbeing initiatives, has a tangible impact, promoting equity and sustainability.