Newsletter July/August 2010
Message from the Executive Director
Over the summer, while politicians and academics have been away from their desks, CSaP has taken the opportunity take stock of how its first year has gone. Since the Centre launched in the summer of 2009, we have held ten workshops and seminars, three Distinguished Lectures, and no fewer than 24 consultation meetings, as well as welcoming our first four Policy Fellows. In all we have engaged in active conversation with nearly a thousand people. Of these, more than 350 have been non-academic: over 200 have come from government and industry; and the remainder have been students, who are becoming increasingly engaged with the Centre. The academic community, both in Cambridge and elsewhere, has shown strong support for CSaP.
Not a bad start, and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of you have taken part with your committed and thoughtful contributions. But we want to see these numbers rise quickly in 2010/11 as we ramp up the activity of our Policy Fellowship scheme (which we are rolling out across more departments and into other sectors) and as we kick off our autumn programme of workshops and seminars (more on which below). We are also looking to increase the traffic on our website. This new look newsletter is the start of an ongoing programme to make the website cleaner and more dynamic, and to give you, the CSaP network of researchers and policy makers, more control over your content. You should begin to see the changes before the end of the year, and we look forward to working with you all to make it as accessible and useful a resource as possible.
As well as growing the network and increasing the flow of communications across it, we want to see a greater range of government officials involved in our activities. With this in mind, I spent much of August walking the corridors of Whitehall, meeting Chief Scientific Advisers, Director Generals and Directors from a whole range of departments, including the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Transport, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department of Health. These meetings have been characterised by considerable enthusiasm for our mission and a welcome desire to be engaged in our various programmes and projects.
In this newsletter, we sum up our first industry consultation dinner and outline our autumn programme of workshops, seminars and more. I hope you find it as exciting as we do.
Dr Chris Tyler
Industry Consultation On 1 July, we held our first industry consultation. The dinner was attended by 20 representatives from industry, trade associations and government departments, and chaired by Lord Wilson of Dinton. The purpose of the meeting was to gain an industrial perspective on the CSaP engagement programme, and to extend the CSaP network by building a group of industrial partners.
After the introduction, a wide ranging discussion followed which touched on issues such as the role that industry plays in policy making and academia, how industry can engage with scientists and policy makers more effectively, the role that CSaP could play in creating a "virtuous circle" of engagement, and how long-term goals are set and met and how timescales differ between academia, industry and policy.
We concluded that "joining up the triangle" between academia, policy and industry is something that CSaP should contribute to. We are therefore taking three key steps. First, we are extending our Policy Fellows programme to include industrial partners (see below). Second, we will consider the differing timescales in our project to explore the key unanswered questions on the relationship between science and policy (also see below). And third, we will continue to build our network of industrial partners and hold another industry consultation dinner in 2011.
Upcoming Workshops and SeminarsWe have a number of events coming up before the end of the year.
DECC workshop on behaviour and energy efficiency
The first of our workshops has been organised at the request of the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). We are working with DECC and a number of leading experts from universities including Cambridge, Cardiff, UCL, East Anglia, Exeter, Lancaster and Sussex to generate new ideas for policies that will encourage people to change their behaviour to consume less energy. We have gathered a range of ideas about how to do this, which we will use a basis for discussion during the workshop. We'll let you know how it went in next month's newsletter.
Ecosystems services workshop
Following the success of CSaP's inaugural workshop in September 2009, which was run for Defra specialists on the issue of ecosystems services and valuation, we have been invited back to offer a follow-up workshop for other government departments and non-specialists. It will take place in October.
CSaP, in partnership with the UK Innovation Research Centre (itself a partnership between Cambridge and Imperial), is bringing together a group of leading experts on innovation policy, alongside civil servants responsible for large budgets and innovation policy, to discuss how the UK might deliver growth and a better society at a time of reduced resources. The workshop will take place in November.
Professional Development Policy Seminar
There is an argument that policy makers typically have a clearer idea about the research process than researchers have about the policy process (for the simple reason that most policy makers went to university where they were exposed to the research process, but most researchers have not worked in government). It could further be argued that this lack of knowledge about the policy process can manifest as a barrier to effective communication between researchers and policy makers.
In November, as a first step towards tackling this knowledge deficit in the academic community, CSaP is piloting a Professional Development Policy Seminar for early career researchers in the environment and energy sectors. If you qualify to take part, this is a great opportunity to meet scientists working in government and policy makers working on science briefs. You will learn about how research relates to public policy and how to maximise the impact of your research in a policy context. If you want to take part, please visit our website.