Previous Clients and Projects

Collaboration with New Economics Foundation: training in the use of Democs, the participatory decision making tool

Collaboration with Edinburgh & Lothian Racial Equality Council to deliver capacity building training

Training for Facilitators event for black and minority ethnic sector

Collaboration with Dundee International Women’s Centre and with Meridian (Glasgow) to deliver capacity building training

Power, Participation & Leadership programme for community leadership in Community Planning

Contracted by Edinburgh Council to work with officers and Equalities Forums on engagement and participation

Traidcraft plc commissioned the Centre for Human Ecology to examine the environmental impact of sugar production and to consider how this relates to Traidcraft’s strategic objectives. Traidcraft is one of Europe’s leading fair trade companies.

The study was carried out by Osbert Lancaster, Dr Jennifer Batty and Dr Crispin Hayes, all Fellows of CHE. The study identified a range of ways in which sugar production, processing and transport impacts not only on the ecosystem and biodiversity, but also on the poor who are Traidcraft’s beneficiaries.

Osbert Lancaster, CHE Executive Director and project leader said, “we have identified new areas for Traidcraft to integrate environmental issues into its strategy so that trade related environmental improvements can transform the lives of poor people. Such an approach will build on Traidcraft’s long term, pioneering work of fighting poverty through trade”.

Mags Vaughan, Operations Director, Traidcraft plc, said, “The report was very much as I had hoped – the CHE team have identified a number of specific opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of sugar production. We particularly welcome the emphasis given to working closely with local people in sugar producing areas to tackle the environment-related poverty issues that they consider priorities.”

Scottish Parliament

Osbert Lancaster, with associate Kyla Brand, has been working with the Scottish Parliament to develop and implement policies and procedures for environmental and socially responsible purchasing.
The Scottish Parliament’s Head of Procurement wrote: “The Centre for Human Ecology worked closely with Scottish Parliament procurement staff and other stakeholders to produce a well researched and practical report on responsible purchasing. The report’s recommendations were accepted by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body and, with the continued support and expertise of CHE, we are now working to fully implement the recommendations to ensure that a responsible purchasing culture is integrated into the Parliament’s policies & procedures.”

EcoProjects was a web based service which matched students who needed a project as part of their university or college course, with environmental organisations who have research projects or investigations to offer.
EcoProjects was previously known as LEARN (Link Academic and Research Network) and was administered by the Centre for Human Ecology in Edinburgh.

Training for Transformation
The Training for Transformation approach to adult education and community development was developed in Africa in the mid 1970s, since when it has become established in over 40 countries throughout the world. It is based on a participatory approach of involving people in the whole process of identifying their real problems and needs, analysing the root causes of these problems, as well as planning, carrying out and evaluating community or group actions to improve the lives of the people.

The method places great emphasis on respecting the life experience of the individuals and community concerned in a way that enables them to identify and to reflect critically on their needs and priorities for social change and development and to act together to address their common problems and opportunities.

Training for Transformation combines discovery and learning at the personal, interpersonal and wider society dimensions of life. Training for Transformation is designed for teams and groups, individuals in local or national organisations or those who are interested in getting involved in their local community. The basic level workshops are highly participative and average 75 hours contact time.

Main elements of the training cover:

Personal Development self-awareness, confidence, values & beliefs, personal skills and gifts, roles in group;
Human Relationship skills group dynamics, dealing with conflict, community and trust building;
Local relevance local issues, history of the community, action-planning at community level;
Organisational development – leadership, visioning, planning;
Social analysis – what needs to change and how, listening surveys;
Global issues racism, gender dynamics, roots of poverty, economic literacy;
The principles and methods of Brazilian educator Paolo Freire ways of learning, motivation, action/reflection, values.


EMPOWER is the black and ethnic minority led EQUAL Scottish partnership (an EU transnational programme). The Scottish Unemployed Voluntary Action Fund Ethnic Minorities Grant Scheme is a major catalyst of capacity building in the black and minority ethnic sector in Scotland. CHE is working in partnership with both funders to develop Training for Transformation capacity building work.

EQUAL Theme B is a Minority Ethnic led Partnership and aims at promoting, developing and implementing new ways of combating racism and xenophobia in the labour market through different innovative approaches applied locally, nationally and Europe. It also aims at providing opportunities to promote economic and social potential for ethnic minorities. Partners include:

Meridian Black and Ethnic Minority Women’s Information and Resource Centre (Glasgow) Lead partner

Black Community Development Project (BCDP) Edinburgh.

Skillnet Edinburgh

Black Environment Network (BEN) Edinburgh

Centre for Human Ecology (CHE) Edinburgh

Innovative Social Project (ISOP) based in Graze, Austria

World Culture in Focus, The National Museum of World Culture and Advantage Gutenberg in Sweden

The Centre for Human Ecology’s specific contribution to the partnership:

Our contribution concerns the Capacity Building strand of the partnership, especially in relation to grassroots people whose involvement in their community may be a stepping-stone towards employment. Our aims within thepartnership are to:

identify EM role models in Scotland and work in partnership with the BBC Scotland to broadcast their stories; (5 to 10 narratives to be broadcast every year);

work closely with our partner RE:generate to make sure that Black and Ethnic Minority people are part of the Listening Matters process in communities;

identify and train people from EM background to become TfT facilitators

deliver further training events with EM grassroots groups that will have completed Training for Transformation and help them develop projects in their community.

carry out research on how successful white community development organisations involve black and minority ethnic people in their activities re empowerment, active citizenship etc.

disseminate the CEP approach to other Community Development organisations, Local Authorities, the Scottish Executive etc.;

act as an on-going resource to EQUAL, sharing CHE’s body of knowledge in relation to the roots of prejudice, issues of Scottish identity and belonging, grassroots activism and the wider field of sustainable development.

ScienceAid: linking communities and scientists

ScienceAid is a new project to enable community groups to access the scientific advice, information and explanations they need. By creating a database of scientists, who are willing to make their expertise freely available to community groups, we will link communities with the most appropriate academic assistance. ScienceAid is a pilot project, with 6 months’ initial funding from the Committee on the Public Understanding of Science.

ScienceAid is run by CHE in collaboration with Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES). CHE is responsible for encouraging scientists to offer their services, and for developing and managing the database. FoES is the first point of contact for community groups and, if necessary, helps them work out what sort of scientific information or advice they need. ScienceAid also provides advice and training to community groups so they can make best use of the scientists’ help, and also to scientists so they can best meet the communities’ needs.

ScienceAid is supporting communities to participate actively, effectively and with appropriate scientific awareness in situations such as:

liaison groups of potentially polluting industrial plants

negotiations over coastal fish farm developments

transmitter mast erections, including TETRA masts

planning inquiries regarding new industrial, waste and extractive developments

impacts of land management in rural areas

ecological impact of developments within national parks or other designated areas

reporting polluting incidents to regulating industries

campaigning for improvements to damp and/or cold housing

CHE’s Community Programme works in partnership with people who are passionately concerned about the challenges that they face as “active citizens”. As part of EMPOWER Scotland, we work with Black and Ethnic Minority grassroots organisations and individuals. Participants in our training programmes develop practical and sustainable leadership, including organisational responses to the deepest issues confronting their community – such as social break-down, discrimination, “apathy”, ill-health, and unemployment.

CEP is working with Edinburgh City Council Equalities Unit developing capacity of Edinburgh Citizens to engage with the Council through its Community Planning process. The work is currently in its pilot phase – watch this space for more, later.

The Community Empowerment Programme (CEP) works in partnership with people who are passionately concerned about the challenges that they face as ‘active citizens’. CEP is a participative inquiry process catalysed by training inputs. Participants in CEP programmes develop practical and sustainable leadership, organisational and entrepreneurial responses to the deepest needs of the community – such as social break-down, ‘apathy’, ill-health, and environmental degradation.
A process to punch our way out of ‘apathy’
Promoting active citizenship, developing leadership

CORE Scotland

CHE is a founding member of the COrporate REsponsibility Coalition Scotland. CORE Scotland has been formed to promote opportunities for greater corporate responsibility in Scotland. CORE Scotland is focusing on building support for changes in Scottish public policy and practice in the areas of procurement, investment and community rights.
CORE Scotland’s mission is to:

* promote ethical procurement by public authorities in Scotland, thus creating a market for ethical goods and services, and eliminating unethical companies from public contracts;

* promote the use of environmental and ethical investment criteria, to reduce funding of projects that put basic human rights and the environment at risk;

* promote mandatory reporting of social and environmental impacts in company’s annual reports;

* assert the rights of citizens and communities to hold companies responsible for the social and environmental impact and;

* support the activities of the CORE coalition as laid out in The Corporate Responsibility (CORE) Bill at Westminster

The founding members of CORE Scotland are: Amnesty International Scotland, Centre for Human Ecology, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Oxfam in Scotland, and Save the Children.


CHE has been awarded a research grant of £34,000 over two years by the prestigious Swiss based organisation, the Worldwide Fund for Nature. The grant will provide scholarships for a number of MSc students looking at whether or not community development has a spiritual basis.

WWF’s links with CHE evolved out of work that the international conservation body undertook with CHE Fellow Alastair McIntosh in stopping the “superquarry” that had been proposed for the National Scenic Area in South Harris.

CHE subsequently interested them in research that defines spirituality simply as “that which gives life.”

For WWF this follows in the footsteps of their famous declaration on Religion and Nature made by leaders of five major faiths at Assisi in 1986. They see CHE’s research as shedding light on approaches to community building that go beyond economic considerations.


The Centre for Human Ecology is an independent academic institute, network, registered cooperative, and registered charity based in Glasgow, Scotland, with an international membership of graduates and fellows. It exists to stimulate and support fundamental change towards ecological and social justice through education, action and research, drawing on a holistic, multidisciplinary understanding of environmental and social systems.