Our collections are valuable resources for addressing many of society’s key issues. The CCC supports research across the collections in many areas, including a particular focus on our three main societal challenges- Environment, Health and Identity. We also strongly support the development of participatory research projects. If you are interested in developing a research project in any of these areas, or with a collections element, please contact our coordinator who will be happy to help identify opportunities.

Environment & Sustainability

As the global climate crisis develops, there is much we can learn from collections about our ever-changing world, and how to live in it sustainably. The CCC will support research addressing the ongoing loss of biodiversity and the consequences of unsustainable living. The collections will be used to address questions including:

  • How has the natural and built environment shaped, and been shaped by, human activity and creativity?
  • How do past records of the natural and anthropogenic world help us understand and mitigate against current global environmental challenges?
  • How can records of past extinctions help us build a more sustainable future for the ecosystems upon which we depend?

Studying moths at the Museum of Zoology © Julieta Sarmiento-Ponce/University of Cambridge

Through our 2022 Participatory Research funding call, we were able to support the following projects in this theme:

  1. Flower Power:  a participatory research project at Cambridge University Botanic Garden to engage students and the public with the effects of climate change on the annual life cycle of flowering plants (Cambridge University Botanic Gardens)
  2. Supporting tomorrow’s ecologists to work with today’s collections: Building capacity and support for citizen-science projects in schools (Zoology Museum)

Health & Wellbeing

The CCC will support research addressing declining physical, mental and emotional health. We will use the collections to answer questions such as:

  • How can health and wellbeing be improved through engagement with collections, and associated physical and digital spaces? 
  • How might involving communities – of all ages and identities – contribute to public wellbeing and health? 
  • Can people’s sense of their place in this world, their pleasures and responsibilities, be enhanced through collections?

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

Society & Identity

Who we are, and the challenges we face as a result of our identity are some of the biggest dilemmas we can address. They also directly influence how our collections were built and developed, and what future collections may look like. The CCC will support research looking at political extremism, racism and inequality. We will use the collections to address questions including:

  • How do the materials, objects and places of the past define community and individual identities, and inform future pathways to more inclusive senses of belonging? 
  • How can the complex and entangled histories of collections – where, when, how and why they are in Cambridge – help address persistent societal inequalities? 
  • Which collections were not historically preserved or valued, what are the collections of the future and who will have agency in their formulation and interpretation?
A sculpture and piano at the Kettle's Yard Gallery

Kettle’s Yard

Active projects in this theme include:

  1. African Collections Futures

Through our 2022 Participatory Research funding call, we were able to support the following projects in this theme:

  1. Building community partnerships to confront the legacies of empire (UCM)
  2. Evaluation of pilot co-run Youth Collective (UCM)
  3. Making connections through collections (Fitzwilliam Museum)- This project has received further subsequent funding and is continuing to build on the initial findings of the pilot project
  4. Nenets Indigenous Heritage Knowledge Exchange Project (Polar Museum)

Collections Connections Communities Strategic Research Initiative

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Collections Connections Communities

Welcome to the Collections Connections Communities Strategic Research Initiative