The Bristol City Fellowships Programme: Call for applications

Thank you for all the applications. This call is now closed. More news to follow soon.


What is it?

Applications are open for City Fellows projects. The primary aim of City Fellow programme is to craft a series of projects that can ensure that communities at the margins are considered to be critical knowledge producers in decision making around city futures.

Bristol City Fellowships is an innovative new programme of fellowship opportunities for academics and practitioners working alongside communities at the margins, which aims to build inclusive cultures of collaboration in the city. It is a joint programme between the University of Bristol, Bristol City Office and the Social Justice Project.

The City Fellows programme will craft a number of projects collectively with the diverse communities of Bristol, to develop principles and practices of collaborative working. We use the concept of ‘craft’ to refer to the desire to do things well, to work long and hard on perfecting something beautiful and useful. The City Fellows programme will demonstrate that the expertise and practice developed when practitioner and community knowledge works alongside academic research can play a key role in shaping city governance. It will enable us to contribute to changing cultures of collaboration in the city, alongside the Bristol City Office and aligned with the One City Approach, working towards a radical rethinking of the inclusion of marginalised voices in decision making. The programme will develop a new, inclusive approach to city governance and policy making, a ‘Bristol City Approach to collaboration’ that other cities could learn from. City Fellows will work as a team to design and influence structures of city scale decision-making to tackle systemic inequalities.

Funding for City Fellows

Funding is available to enable each City Fellow to work on the programme for one day per week for 18-24 months to develop and implement a project that connects with one of the themes of Bristol’s One City Plan (Health and Wellbeing, Economy, Homes and Communities, Environment, Learning and Skills and Connectivity) or identifies a cross cutting theme that should be considered (e.g. gender equality, disability and inclusion).

Applicants should have a direct link into communities at the margins of decision-making in the city of Bristol; this could be through employment in an organisation that works with/in Bristol’s diverse communities, or through other connections (e.g. through gifted time, or working in a consultancy role).

This call is looking for 4 more city fellows:

  • 3 x city practitioner/activists who will be hosted by and work with the University of Bristol.
  • 1 x early career academic (normally within 8 years of completing a PhD) at the University of Bristol who will work with key city institutions/actors.

As the first two Bristol City Fellows, Morag McDermont and Helen Manchester will co-ordinate and support the first cohort of fellows. They will support the cohort in collectively developing impacts, outputs and outcomes that are embedded in the city and disseminated nationally and internationally.


Why apply?

The City Fellows programme encourages applications from those interested in collaborative working, shifting cultures of decision making in the city and finding ways of thinking and doing beyond current practices. The programme will provide:

  • A collaborative working environment with other civil society practitioner/activists, organisations in the public and private sector and academics
  • An opportunity to bring to the fore expertise and knowledge embedded in the communities that they (will) work within
  • Space and time for collaborative thinking, doing and reflection, between researchers and communities at the margins, involving experimentation and taking risks
  • Funding of £10,000 p.a. to enable the Fellow to spend at least one day per week on the programme, for a period of 18-24 months. This funding will either be to the employing organisation to allow the person to be released from other duties 1 day per week, or will be paid directly to the Fellow. In the case of the ECR this will enable teaching buy out, equivalent to one day per week for 18-24
  • For city to university fellows, access to University of Bristol resources – desk space, IT resources, library access and access to other academic
  • For University to City Fellows access to City Office and Social Justice project hot desking space
  • The potential for modest support on the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data
  • Support from Helen and Morag and links with academic and professional services staff at UoB who can support the Fellow’s project

What kinds of applications will be considered?

Applicants will be required to develop and implement a collaborative, city-scale project that involves working alongside a community/ies at the margins to tackle systemic inequalities in the city. You may have an idea for an innovative project or you may want to work on an existing problem (eg access to employment) but are looking to develop an innovative approach which can be shaped through discussion and collaboration with the other Fellows.

The proposed projects should:

  • Enable city-scale collaboration between key organisations, including (but not limited to) the universities, communities organisations, charities, Bristol City Office and Council, other organisations and local businesses
  • Work explicitly on ensuring that communities at the margins are considered to be critical knowledge producers in decision making around city futures
  • Enable and lead to the creation of an in-depth case study, exploring the processes, practices and methods needed to enable city scale collaboration around key city concerns
  • Connect with one of the themes of Bristol’s One City Plan (Health and Wellbeing, Economy, Homes and Communities, Environment, Learning and Skills and Connectivity) or identify a cross cutting theme that should be considered (e.g. gender equality, disability and inclusion).

City Fellows must be committed to working as a cohort to regularly engage in collaborative thinking, doing and reflection and experimentation which encourages unconventional, risky research and practice.

City Fellows will be expected to find innovative ways of disseminating the outcomes of the projects including learning and practices/methodologies developed, supported by the other City Fellows, the City Office and others working in the University of Bristol. One key mechanism for dissemination in the City will be through the Bristol Forum.

How to apply

Each application should propose a project that engages with one or more of the themes in the One City Plan using an approach that is not ‘business-as-usual’. Applications do not have to present a fully worked-out project. However, it is important for applicants to demonstrate:

  1. A proven commitment to working collaboratively with others in the city
  2. Existing working relations with community/ies at the margins in the City and evidence of practices that engage these communities as key knowledge producers;
  3. The potential scope of city-scale collaboration: who else will you be looking to develop collaboration with during the course of the fellowship in order to enable cross sectoral working on the issue identified?
  4. The skills and resources that you bring to the programme, e.g. fields of expertise developed so far; networks with community groups, organisations, charities; potential for other sources of funding (or other resources) to support the project
  5. Awareness of the other skills and resources that would be required to enable the project to be undertaken
  6. An understanding of how the project could contribute to developing principles and practices of collaborative working in the City

Applications should clearly address points 1-6 above, and can be submitted:

  • as a written document of no more than 1000 words, or
  • a ten minute audio or video file, or
  • a combination of the two e.g. 5 minute video plus 500 word

To ensure fairness between applications and to enable the panel to assess applications equally, any applications that exceed these limits may be rejected.

The decision panel will include Morag and Helen, representatives from the City Office, The Social Justice Project and the University of Bristol.

There will be opportunities to meet and discuss potential projects with Helen and Morag at several clinics, running during October 2019. More details can be found here.

Please send all completed applications to:

Closing date: Friday 1st  November 2019, 12 noon

Awards announced: December 2020. We envisage the fellowships will run between January 2020 and December 2022

This programme has been made possible with the support of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Account.

Eligibility criteria

  1. Practitioners/activists from community organisations or other civil society organisations in the City of Bristol, or a motivated individual/activist (this could include community or employee owned businesses). NB it will not be possible to support individuals currently in statutory paid roles financially (we may be able to provide some support for teachers). However, you are welcome to apply if you have agreement from your employee to support your release to work with us on this
  2. Early Career Academics, with an interest in collaborative and interdisciplinary research, on any Pathway at the University of Bristol from across disciplines are welcome to apply. An ECR here is understood as being within 8 years of PhD completion (or more than this if you have had periods away from academia- if this is the case please explain in your application). You will need the permission of your line

For both categories, you must demonstrate that you have an established city network that you can draw on/engage.

Useful Guides

These are useful guides for collaborative projects:

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