Practice in action


Participatory insights for the social, economic and environmental change we need.

Working across academia, civil society, business and government providing research insight to support systemic change.


In the run-up to COP26, we are excited to share A City Speaks – a series of inspiring and previously untold stories of 7 Bristol residents’ incredible environmental action in the city and surrounding areas.

A City Speaks – trailer


What we’re working on right now…


What do Bristolians really think about climate change? Do people want to see bold changes in their neighbourhoods? And who should take the lead on decarbonising our City? Researchers are interested to…

Mock COP

Young people have an essential role to play in our climate future. We have designed a Mock COP based on the Model United Nations, for local schools, funded by the Cabot Institute. All the resources ar…

City Speaks

Do you know of any untold stories about things ordinary people from Bristol and the surrounding area are doing to protect nature, save energy, reduce waste, persuade political authorities, grow your o…



Change is difficult – systemic shifts even harder. We believe that participation, communication and public-spirited action is critical to respond to the challenges that society faces.


 Our research approach is collaborative and participatory. We co-design our methodologies and work in collaboration with grassroots and community based organisations. Our aim is for knowledge to serve community needs.


The pressing challenges of our day are complex, and require system-informed solutions. How do we address climate change, housing, rural-urban relationships, inequality, and care for an ageing population?


We have a track record of working with trainee researchers and providing real-world research experience, with a collaborative approach and high levels of responsibility shared from the outset.

Meet the team

Jack and Emilia have been working together since 2014. We share a commitment to civic participation and research as a collaborative process, across the research team and with communities.

Dr Emilia Melville

Emilia has a background in community energy, and facilitating stakeholder workshops exploring how we can shift to zero carbon energy systems. She is the coordinator of the Bristol Energy Network.

Dr Jack Nicholls

Jack is passionate about democratic deliberation, public participation in decision-making, and employing social science research methods for civic action. He is a research associate at the University of Bristol


Read about our previous work and projects.

City Speaks – All films

What are ordinary Bristol residents doing about Climate Change? Watch all 7 films in full here.

Bristol’s one city climate strategy

What does Bristol’s One City Climate Strategy mean for residents? We’ve looked at some of the evidence base reports on the impacts of climate change for Bristol, and what some of the poten…

Democracy in City Leap

We have completed a first exploratory study into options for designing in democratic accountability and community involvement in Bristol’s City Leap programme. City Leap is Bristol’s major energy …


Feedback from our researchers

 “Also thought how Jack, Emilia and Hen made us feel very included &  like co-researchers made us feel very respected and seen. Especially the fact they emphasized our names would be on the report, we all felt really appreciated. Respected them a lot for their inclusive leadership in the project.”

“I genuinely really enjoyed this research project – I felt like I was doing challenging, rewarding work that I was interested in. I was really inspired by the motivation of the other researchers and thought they did an excellent job, especially in thinking critically and learning new technical skills to allow for better analysis. I liked being able to use more informal communication via Whatsapp. Thank you for the opportunity!”

“I think we adapted really well to online working and checking in with one another– it kept me sane throughout some weird times!”