ESRC Digital Good Network

Digital Good Research Fund

The network was launched in November 2022 with £4 million investment from the Economic and Social Research Council and £1 million from collaborating organisations.

From this we set up the Digital Good Research Fund for small-scale, pilot and scoping projects that respond to annual, thematic calls and contribute to the Digital Good Index. We fund multiple projects in the range of £20,000 (£16,000 at 80% fEC) to a maximum of £50,000 (£40,000 at 80% fEC).

2023 call: Foundations for the Digital Good

Our first Digital Good Research Fund call, Foundations for the Digital Good, closed on 7 March 2023.

It was an intentionally broad invitation for researchers to help lay the foundations for the network, by exploring how to define the digital good across different technologies, dimensions and perspectives. 

You can read all about the nine projects we are funding below:

Cooperative Digital

Cooperativa digital: Creating a community-run mobile app in Brazil

What does a mobile app look like when it’s controlled by its users?

Find out more…

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Digital health: the digital good in low-resource settings in Africa

How do the two intertwine when viewed through an inequalities and non-Western lens?

Find out more…

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Digital mattering: A philosophical anthropology of mobile messaging as everyday human goodness

Reframing the question of what is a ‘good’ digital society to consider how goodness may start from small building blocks of everyday, mundane communication between individuals and their friends/family.

Find out more…

Project Logo Credit: Dylan Yamada-Rice

Exploring children’s attitudes towards notions of the digital good through hybrid arts practice

This project will host hybrid art workshops for children to imagine and shape a possible digital future where technology use is ethical, responsible, and inclusive

Find out more…

Image made on MidJourney by an artist called Azul (Nicolás Jiménez) who is of Mapuche origin

INDIGENIA: Generative AI for Indigenous futures and ‘digital good living’

The INDIGENIA project will explore digital inclusion for Indigenous peoples by engaging Indigenous participants with the newest wave of generative AI programmes.

Find out more…

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Less damage done? Finding the good in defence tech

This project will consider which digital technologies are key and which absolutely need to be excluded for the sake of working towards a ‘digital better’ and develop a framework of investment principles.

Find out more…

Queer joy image. Credit: Dawn Woolley

Queer joy as a digital good

This project foregrounds queer joy as a practice of personal and collective resilience amidst a socio-political landscape of increasing queerphobia.

Find out more…

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Re-Imagining AI with Afrofuturist speculative design

This project explores how emerging AI technologies can be used to benefit everyone, especially marginalised communities, by addressing issues of inequality, exclusion, and justice.

Find out more…

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What does a ‘good’ digital welfare state look like?

This project brings together UK and Scandinavian experts to propose new frameworks for ‘good’ digital welfare.

Find out more…

2024 call: Evaluating the Digital Good

Our 2024 funding call, Evaluating the Digital Good, was launched on 19 January 2024 and builds on the foundations of our first call. By evaluation, we mean the systematic assessment of or judgement about whether digital developments and deployments contribute towards a good digital society.

Evaluating the Digital Good invites proposals which do one or more of the following:

  • explore whether and how the digital good can or should be evaluated
  • explore how to evaluate the digital good across different technologies, contexts and domains
  • consider the role of diverse communities, sectors and organisations in evaluating the digital good
  • test methodological innovations for evaluating the digital good.

We welcome applications which apply or demonstrate particular approaches to evaluating the digital good. These could deploy experimental, quantitative or statistical approaches, explore the outcomes, metrics or data that might contribute to evaluating the digital good, or critically interrogate the value of measurement in this context, or they could be qualitative in character. They could prioritise listening to and valuing different voices, responding to the specificities of the evaluation context or capturing collaborative, collective wisdom (Christou et al 2023).

To understand what we mean when we use the term ‘the digital good’ and how we are thinking about it, you may find it useful to watch our 2023 launch webinar entitled ‘What is the digital good?’. 

We have reviewed the disciplines, methodologies, teams and topic areas of existing Digital Good Network research, and have identified some gaps we would like to fill to enable us to meet our objectives.

As a result, we encourage applications which:

  • focus on sustainability 
  • use quantitative or computational methods 
  • include disciplines under-represented in current research teams: psychology, geography, economics, STEM disciplines
  • are led by, or include, Black British team members.

To read about the projects we funded last year and research being undertaken by the Digital Good Network’s core team, please visit our research page. But please note, we welcome novel proposals which include disciplines, methods, teams and topic areas that are currently under-represented amongst our existing portfolio of research, and that address issues we haven’t thought about!

To find out more about this year’s, please visit our 2024 Digital Good Research Fund page.

The deadline for submissions is Thursday 25 April 2024, 4pm (UK time).