The University of Birmingham will lead the new Centre for National Training and Research Excellence in Understanding Behaviour (CENTRE-UB).
CENTRE-UB has been awarded £7 million of funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This is part of a wider £17 million funding announcement focussing on the UK’s ability to address societal challenges, such as the climate crisis, new technologies, security and health and wellbeing issues, through the lens of human behaviour.
I am honoured to be leading the Centre for National Training and Research Excellence in Understanding Behaviour. Human behaviour can be the cause of, but also the solution, to many societal challenges and CENTRE-UB will provide a valuable resource for the study of behaviour nationwide.Professor Jessica Woodhams, University of Birmingham
The Centre will be led by Jessica Woodhams, Professor of Forensic Psychology at the University of Birmingham, and will work with local, national, and international partners from across the public and private sector.
Professor Woodhams said: “I am honoured to be leading the Centre for National Training and Research Excellence in Understanding Behaviour. Human behaviour can be the cause of, but also the solution, to many societal challenges and CENTRE-UB will provide a valuable resource for the study of behaviour nationwide. Key to CENTRE-UB is our close engagement and collaboration with non-academic partners in the public and private sectors to positively influence policy and provide improved education for researchers and government.”
As part of its activity the centre will:
- Produce PhD graduates able to address the needs of policymakers, business, and civil society.
- Develop a cohort of early career researchers able to pursue a career in applied behavioural research within and outside of academia.
- Deliver a flexible training and development programme for researchers in government and other sectors that accelerates the use of behavioural research findings and methods in local and national decision-making.
Professor Woodhams will be joined by Jet Veldhuijzen van Zanten, Professor in Biological Psychology, and Dr Victoria Goodyear, Associate Professor in Pedagogy in Sport, Physical Activity and Health, who will also be collaborating on the project.
Professor Veldhuijzen van Zanten, Deputy Director of CENTRE-UB, commented: “CENTRE-UB is a very exciting research and training programme, which will train the next generation of evidence-based behavioural researchers to embed collaborations with non-academic partners throughout their research and conduct innovative and impactful interdisciplinary research.”
Dr Goodyear commented: “CENTRE-UB will be a national hub for accessible, evidence-based, and impactful training focussed on understanding behaviour. I am delighted to be the Training Director for CENTRE-UB. I will be working with colleagues in government, CENTRE-UB partner organisations across the public and private sector, and academics from a range of different disciplines to co-design and deliver a new national CPD programme.”
CENTRE-UB is part of the wider National Capability in Behavioural Research programme, which will build world-leading capability in interdisciplinary behavioural research.
ESRC has also announced the funding of Behavioural Research UK (BR-UK), which will be led by the University of Edinburgh and UCL.
Chair Stian Westlake, ESRC Executive, said: “Successfully addressing society’s challenges requires a deep understanding of how and why people, organisations and groups behave the way they do. Ranging from how individuals live, work, and make critical life choices, to behaviours that enable or hamper innovation and productivity across communities, businesses, and the economy.
“Behavioural research was critical to the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and our ambition is to build on that legacy. ESRC’s new investments will boost the country’s capacity. Together they will generate insights and foster the research skills necessary to facilitate and inform evidence-based decision making by policymakers, industry, and civil society.”