Eden Project

Published on: 3 October 2014

Research done in partnership between the University of Exeter and the Eden Project has seen Cornish businesses reduce their carbon emissions and helped get children active.

Following this successful work and in anticipation of more collaborative research projects the two organisations are signing a pledge to work more closely together – a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The MoU will seal the relationship by focusing the relationship on specific projects and align opportunities for collaboration with funding calls.

PhD student Philip Waters developed a new way to engage children in physical activity and the world around them using a teaching process called ‘Narrative Journey’. It works via a story facilitator, who gets children involved in creating in the story, instead of just telling one to them.

Phil explained: “Children are not passive when they play. They bring to stories their experiences and the experiences of other people’s stories, whether those are real or fabricated.”

The European Centre for Environment and Human Health researcher found children are rarely active for the enjoyment of physical activity, but because activity is part of a story developed during play. These findings could help organisations like Eden by enhancing their community engagement work, thus getting children more involved and interested. They could also be used by sports and physical education professionals to get children more involved in lessons.

Phil collaborated with his former employer Eden on the project.  Phil worked as Play Project Coordinator giving him extensive experience of working with children. 

The project gave a unique view of child’s play by using cameras worn by children as they played to gather data, allowing adults to see from a child’s perspective. This method is discussed in the paper Play frames, or framed play? The use of film cameras in visual ethnographic research with children.

You can find out more about Phil’s work in the video above.


The Clear About Carbon partnership project involving the University and Eden helped reduce the amount of carbon emitted by Cornish organisations.

Clear About Carbon research helped embed methods to keep carbon emissions low into the procurement policies and supply chains of, for example, the Cornwall College Group, who increased duplex printing by 62 per cent, and Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, who saved £150,000 in heating bills after implementing the project team’s recommendation to lower their building’s temperature.

You can read more about the project outputs in the Carbon Matters report.

The Eden Project. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Principal Investigator Professor Annie Pye, of the Centre for Leadership Studies, together with a team of Business School academics, led Exeter’s research. The project partnership also included Duchy College and Cornwall Council. Together they developed a series of tools – including a calculator to work out emissions associated with utilities and travel – to help organisations reduce their carbon footprint. Their work was recognised at the 2013 European Social Fund (ESF) Innovation, Transnationality and Mainstreaming Awards, where the project won the Best Mainstreaming Project trophy.

Mark Yeoman, Head of ESF Convergence Communication, said: “Clear About Carbon winning this national award is testament to both the effective use of ESF investment bringing innovation to tackling real issues, and to the partner organisations that are taking the ideas and lessons and using them to great effect.”

Three international partnerships grew from the project, bringing practitioners together from different countries to share their sustainable development practices and learn from each other. 

Eco-Institut Barcelona, which has supported Barcelona Council to adopt sustainable procurement practices, was one partner. ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, a European hub for sustainability practice – and the Association of Local Authorities in Skaraborg, which helps the Swedish county grow and develop sustainably, made up the trio.

Clear About Carbon also won the Innovation category at the 2012 Cornwall Works WISE Awards, as well as the 2011 ESF Sustainable Development Specialist Project Leader Award.


A number of future initiatives are already in the pipeline.

Plans include support for Eden’s Human Microbiome exhibit, which will explore the microbial communities which occupy the body. Exeter will provide scientific advice on the project and the partners will work together to encourage the public to discuss biodiversity and the links between humans, microbes and the environment.

There are also plans for a project development fund to aid collaborative efforts between Eden and the University, as well as a graduate employability scheme to improve job prospects for Exeter graduates.

Both Philip’s PhD and Clear About Carbon received funding from the ESF. Funding for the Human Microbiome project has been awarded by the Wellcome Trust.

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