School of Social and Political Science

SPS academic involved in new £10 million hub for behavioural research


A School of Social and Political Science (SPS) team led by Professor Oliver Escobar is involved in a new UK hub for behavioural research, which aims to help tackle societal and economic challenges.  

The hub, Behavioural Research UK (BR-UK) is supported by a £10 million grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and will form the centrepiece of ESRC’s investment in behavioural research.

Understanding human behaviour and how it shapes organisations, communities and societies is fundamental to addressing current and future global challenges, and the five-year funding will support BR-UK to build a behavioural research community to address these challenges.

Professor Linda Bauld, Bruce and John Usher Chair of Public Health at The University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute and Chief Social Policy Advisor to the Scottish Government will co-lead the Hub along with Professor Susan Michie, Professor of Health Psychology and Director of the Centre for Behavioural Change at University College London. 

Leading academics across a range of disciplines from eight universities – Edinburgh, UCL, Cardiff, Manchester, Oxford, Queen’s University Belfast, Sheffield and St Andrews – will collaborate with partners from government, industry and charities to extend the UK’s existing capacity and capability in behavioural research.

SPS’ Professor Escobar and the SPS team will co-lead for the project’s Public Engagement and Stakeholder Involvement work programme, conducting research and capacity-building across the fields of environment, health, economy, community, and more. 

Professor Escobar said: "We’re very excited to collaborate with a wide range of partners in communities, policy and research to work on some of the most pressing challenges of our time." 

This award is part of a larger £17 million investment in behavioural research from the ESRC which will include development and training opportunities for academics and practitioners from a wide range of sectors.