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A group of students and staff in a seminar room

The Environmental Histories and Futures of the North East (EHFNE) project brings together North East academic researchers in the social sciences and humanities and community organisations to create opportunities for dialogue and collaboration. The project aims to foster future research partnerships that centre local interests and community priorities through regular seminars and community steering group meetings.

On 7 December 2023 the project held its launch event. Despite the darkness of the evening and the grimness of the weather, we had a great turnout of people from both within and out with the university who were interested in learning more about the project.

Staff presenting to a group of people in a seminar room

People attending came together around their common interests; everyone wrote one word about their research interests on a post-it, allowing participants to then group them into common themes which they then allocated specific questions to. For instance, one team came together around the theme ‘Healthy Transitions’ to ask: What is owed to legacy communities regarding long term impacts of extraction and industrial labour practice markers? How have past experiences of occupational health and environmental extraction shaped labour practices? How can we apply such knowledge to our obligations to the environment in the context of the energy transition? Another group connected under the heading ‘Beyond Extraction’ and asked: How do we secure buy-in for a green transfer in a place where identity is linked to coal? Is a green transfer a just transition? How do people navigate identity between legacies of coal extraction and an imagined future?