Changes in public understanding, learning and education in Earth Sciences


The Lapworth Museum is a great example of how research is being used to inspire the next generation of scientists, and change public understanding of Earth Sciences.

Funded by the National Lottery, a re-imagined Lapworth Museum opened in 2016 as aunique collaboration between researchers and museum professionals. The Museum has since become a focal point of public engagement activities in Earth Sciences across the region and beyond, facilitating research-led engagement with diverse audiences. The radical transformation of the museum and increase in reach has received considerable recognition.

Lapworth Museum was an Art Fund Museum of the Year finalist in 2017 and Arts Council England awarded the Museum National Portfolio Organisation status in 2018.

The Lapworth is also used to nationally enhance Earth Sciences and Geography education within the University. 

Video: Professor Richard Butler - Award for Academic Advancement

Founders’ Awards 2019: Professor Richard Butler – Award for Academic Advancement

Richard Butler, Professor of Palaeobiology, was presented with the Joseph Chamberlain award for Academic Advancement at the annual Founders' Awards held at the University of Birmingham.


About the Project

The University of Birmingham set out to change public understanding of Earth Sciences through a co-production by researchers and museum professionals. This led to a transformative redevelopment of the Lapworth Museum of Geology in 2016. 

The redevelopment has created a significant increase in visitor numbers and enhanced educational provision, including delivery of onsite educational sessions. 

The museum receives exceptional audience and visitor feedback, as demonstrated by surveys and focus groups, and positive professional evaluations and evaluative reviews in the media, most notably a shortlisting by Art Fund for Museum of the Year 2017, the largest museum prize in the world. 

The broad programme of public education led by Earth Sciences researchers has also included involvement in the ‘Teacher at Sea’ programme. This led to changes in syllabi at both GCSE (geophysical and seismic techniques used during the cruise) and A level (concepts of oceanic detachment faulting and oceanic core complex development developed by Birmingham researchers. 


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