The International Science Council (ISC), on behalf of the Belmont Forum and the NORFACE network, is seeking an expert science communication consultant to develop impact stories from twelve projects funded through the Transformations to Sustainability (T2S) programme.

Butterfly hatching

The Belmont Forum and NORFACE research programme Transformations to Sustainability (T2S) supports and advances international, transdisciplinary research on the social dimensions of sustainability challenges and solutions. The programme funds twelve international research projects that are studying the challenges of transformations to sustainability in widely different socio-environmental domains and contexts around the globe. They are running from 2018 to 2022 with a combined research budget of 11.5m EUR. The activities and outputs of the projects are showcased on a dedicated website: t2sresearch.org. The ISC supports knowledge exchange and communications activities for the programme.

As the projects approach the end of their lifespans, the ISC is seeking a consultant (or team of consultants to be constituted by the applicant) to document and communicate the major societal outcomes of the research projects for non-expert audiences, notably research funders, policy makers and civil society organizations. The goal of these impact stories is to show the value of social science and transdisciplinary[1] research approaches in understanding and promoting transformative[2] pathways to sustainability. They should demonstrate that a social framing and transdisciplinary research on sustainability are critical and can have a significant impact on our lives and on the world.

The stories should use a narrative style to capture and convey the societal transformations towards sustainability that the projects have been studying and influencing in specific places and contexts. These transformations may be occurring at different levels (e.g. in community practices, sectors of society or the economy, policy making, perceptions, attitudes or behaviours, or ways of doing research). The stories should not attempt to summarize all the achievements or results of a project, but should rather focus on powerful examples of change or findings that have significant potential to underpin transformation. The stories should feature the voices of stakeholders involved in the research projects. They should pay attention to geographical, regional and gender balance among the voices represented and ensure that voices and perspectives from the Global South are included.

The consultant will need to:

  1. Identify, in consultation with the ISC programme manager and project coordinators, project members and participants to interview,
  2. schedule and conduct interviews with project members and participants,
  3. propose a methodology to review the draft impact stories, 
  4. identify the transformations or changes the projects have studied and influenced, and the clearest examples of the impact of the projects on the ground,
  5. draft compelling impact stories on the basis of these interviews and other background information about the projects,
  6. identify suitable visual imagery that can be used alongside the impact stories,
  7. respond to comments from reviewers and update the texts on the basis of these reviews,
  8. work with the ISC Secretariat to finalize the impact stories into an appropriate publishable form.

The expected final deliverable for this project is a set of twelve impact stories (one per project) of around 1000–1500 words that showcase real-world outcomes of the project (the stories could include audio or video elements if available, but it is not anticipated that the consultant will develop new audio or video for the stories). Each story should include a perspective from at least one non-academic participant in the project, and should be accompanied by at least one high-quality image related to the story, which may be sourced directly from the projects themselves or from an online search.

The consultant(s) must have demonstrated experience in developing English-language stories of this type from social science research. The consultant(s) should have knowledge of the landscape of (transdisciplinary) social science research on environmental change and transformations to sustainability, as well as demonstrated experience in research/development communications. Experience of international, North–South scientific collaboration is desirable.

Here are some examples of dynamic stories which reflect the expected results from the work:

  1. https://stories.council.science/unlocking-science-empowering-marginalised-communities/
  2. https://stories.council.science/unlocking-science-new-drugs-malaria/

Key dates:

The timeframe for this project is approximately three months, with all stories to have been completed by 31 December 2022.

2 August – launch of request for expressions of interest
22 August – deadline for proposals
By 5 September – selection of consultant and agreement on terms
By 12 September – launch of project
31 December – deadline for completion of all impact stories

Budget

The indicative budget available for this project is of the order of 15,000–20,000 EUR (VAT included).

How to submit a proposal:

If you meet the criteria outlined above, please submit a proposal of maximum five pages to Sarah Moore (sarah.moore@council.science), including:

  • A brief statement of the consultant’s understanding of the scope of services and proposed process of development for this project
  • A brief description of the experience of the consultant that illustrates relevant qualifications and skills
  • Examples of similar projects developed for past or current clients, with examples of or links to published information
  • A budget breakdown

Proposals should be sent via email by 22 August 2022. Please include the subject line: ‘Call for expressions of interest: T2S impact stories’.

Questions about this request for proposals should be addressed to both Sarah Moore (sarah.moore@council.science) and Lizzie Sayer (lizzie.sayer@council.science).


[1] The ISC understands ‘transdisciplinary approaches’ to mean research undertaken in close cooperation with stakeholders concerned, from the framing of the research questions to the generation of knowledge.

[2] The ISC understands transformation to be a profound and complex socio-ecological process with both short- and long-term implications for the sustainability of natural and social systems.


Image by Håkon Grimstad on Unsplash.

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