Specialist – Social Science

Natural England
20 September 2021

We are seeking a Specialist in social science to sit within Natural England’s Social Science Team, within Specialist Science and Evidence. We have an interdisciplinary team and welcome applications from candidates with different disciplinary backgrounds and specialisms within the social sciences. The team includes a number of social science specialists, senior specialists and a principal specialist. Our mission, to build partnerships for nature’s recovery, reflects the need for us to work with and through a wide range of people. In order to do this effectively, we need to understand people: to work with diverse ways of knowing, experiencing and thinking about the natural environment; understand behaviour and what drives it; understand how we engage with nature (or why we don't); as well as how best to work together towards achieving our vision. Understanding people – and the social, political, cultural, institutional, economic and technological contexts in which we live and operate – is therefore critical to delivering thriving nature for people and planet. Natural England’s (NE’s) Action plan for 21/22 can be viewed here: Natural England action plan 2021 to 2022 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). It contains information about the organisation’s priorities for the year and includes a description of NE’s four strategic programmes and its two supporting programmes.

The work we do relating to this is broad and largely takes three forms: 1) We respond to a wide range of commissions and support the delivery of evidence projects that respond to Natural England’s priorities and work programmes; 2) We build partnerships and work together with external organisations to drive forward our aims; 3) We scope and develop social science projects addressing key organisational needs.

The post holder will lead on a number of social science commissions and evidence projects in response to Natural England priorities and work programmes.

The nature of the work may change over time, responding to organisational priorities. We are therefore seeking a permanent social science specialist who can be flexible and adaptable, with the ability to provide social science leadership and insights across any of Natural England’s programmes as the need arises.

Work areas will vary but may include some of the following:

  • Contributing to the development and delivery of NE’s four programmes: Greener Farming and Fisheries; Sustainable Development; Connecting People to Nature; and, Resilient Landscapes and Seas, including helping to scope opportunities where social science can support programme delivery.
  • Contributing to the implementation of the Science, Evidence and Evaluation Strategy
  • Involvement in external networks to promote the use and impact of social science within the natural environment sector

The exact work areas to be supported will depend on the successful candidate’s knowledge and expertise.

The role of the specialist includes:

  • Supporting social science team colleagues in data collection / analysis / reporting for specific projects; as required, to increase our capacity to deliver social research in-house.
  • Supporting social science team colleagues in providing advice and guidance on social science methods and techniques; supporting others to use and understand these to maximise the robustness of research delivered across NE; and, helping colleagues to apply research recommendations. Including support for social science training offer (assisting with organising, advertising, managing and delivering the social science training programme).
  • Supporting delivery of workshops, webinars and presentations to raise awareness of social science research findings, theory and practice.
  • Managing the internal requests process, including; triaging requests; supporting non-social-science colleagues to develop their ideas; recording; and, processing via liaising with team.
  • Managing team communications, including: developing and maintaining a team comms plan; coordinating project-specific comms; leading on drafting regular intranet articles; updating internal webpages.
  • Administrative and organisational support to team, including: team meeting secretariat function; managing the publications process; managing the team reference library; data archiving; project management assistance.
  • Supporting the Social Science Team to continue to deliver and improve on our evidence standards and develop the vision for social science both within NE and the wider sector.
  • Contributing to evidence syntheses (including rapid evidence reviews) and policy/summary briefings.
  • Maintaining their specialism, including contributing to relevant networks (for example, the cross-government Natural Environment Social Research Network) and building links with statisticians and social researchers in the Government Social Research (GSR) community.
  • Working in and helping to build interdisciplinary teams, including with our Evaluation Team.
  • One of the roles will include supporting the People and Nature Survey team People and Nature Survey (arcgis.com) in:
  • Managing and developing the supporting evidence base, including undertaking literature reviews with support from colleagues.
  • Supporting the survey’s Stakeholder and Research User groups, including engagement, maintenance, event preparation and delivery, and furthering the open science agenda.
  • Contributing to outputs from the survey, with support from colleagues (e.g. through reviewing and research).
  • Supporting the Project Manager with project administration and organisation including budget management and procurement.
  • Supporting the publication process including delivery to timescale and pre-announcements of Official Statistics.
  • Supporting the Communications and Stakeholder Lead on all communication activities for the People and Nature Survey including press releases, social media campaigns and internal communications for all data releases related to the survey.
  • Supporting the production, delivery and maintenance of communications and engagement plans (internal and external).
  • Working in collaboration with the project team and Communications and Stakeholder Lead to develop innovative ways to communicate the People and Nature Survey data.
  • Supporting the evaluation of external communications and tracking external communications over time.
  • Supporting the development of partnerships with Defra, NE’s Connecting People & Nature Programme and key stakeholders (which include Government Departments, NGOs and academia).

One of the roles will include supporting the survey function of the social science team in:

  • Delivery of day-to-day NE survey control function: collating information about all surveys planned / delivered across NE; supporting non-social science colleagues to deliver best practice surveys, as part of Natural England’s best practice engagement culture (advising on question formulation, sampling, analysis plans).
  • Supporting the social science team in delivering training on undertaking surveys and associated skills.
  • Support of staff survey delivery and analysis.

We are seeking someone who is confident and capable of working at a strategic level and with the ability to quickly understand and respond to current needs and challenges.

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