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From sandpit to funding -a Novel Research Project on disruption to travel

The Engineering & Physical Research Council (EPSRC) has funded as part of a consortium led by Leeds University a novel Open University Business School project, ‘Disruption: the raw material for low carbon change’.

Funding from an overall EPSRC fund worth £1.3m, will allow Dr Helen Roby, Research Associate at the OU Business School, to explore travel practices in a range of places and social contexts such as the ways we travel and barriers to low carbon travel.

‘Disruption: the raw material for low carbon change’

• confronts the dominant view that travel behaviour is fixed, routine and habitual
• acknowledges that travel practices emerge as a result of complex system connections
• seeks to observe and change these rather than focussing solely on the role of the individual.

Helen will be exploring the organisational response to disruptive events that affect travel behaviour at:

• the individual level
• and unplanned geographical events.

The project, which could be used to challenge current thinking, will identify the extent to which organisations:

• adapt operations,
• suspend operations,
• or develop innovative solutions.

The proposal was developed through an EPSRC ‘sandpit’

These are residential workshops organised by the Research Council. Typically they run over five days and involve a multidisciplinary mix of participants: the director, a team of expert mentors and often a number of independent stakeholders. As a result ‘sandpits’ are able to drive lateral thinking and radical approaches.

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