Newsletter November 2010
Message from the Executive Director
As we head towards the end of 2010 - and because this is the last newsletter of the year - I wanted to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to those people who have contributed to the growth and development of CSaP over the past few months. The Associates of the Centre - more than 300 of you - have made this year a remarkable one. With your enthusiastic involvement, we have been able to run five Centre Interest Groups, eight workshops, four Distinguished Lectures, two Associate Seminars and a Professional Development Policy Seminar, as well as host our first eight Policy Fellows. Many thanks to all of you who have made such a great contribution.
The successful launch of the Policy Fellows programme has been a significant highlight of the year. Policy professionals from Whitehall and industry have found their time in the University not just useful but "inspiring", and the many academics who have hosted the Fellows have also been extremely positive about the opportunity to speak to decision makers in their field of interest. We would like to add to this positive feedback our thanks for the extraordinary contribution of both the Policy Fellows and the University hosts. We look forward to taking this programme forward in 2011.
Of the many contributors to the success of the Centre's first full year, we have marked out eight, by inviting them to become Associate Fellows of the Centre. These individuals have made, and we hope will continue to make, a particular contribution to our objectives and development. Our three inaugural Fellows were Professor Ben Martin (former Director of Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Sussex), Professor David MacKay (Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Department of Physics, and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change), and Mr David Howarth (Reader in Law in the Department of Land Economy, who returned to the University after deciding not to stand for re-election as MP for the City of Cambridge).
In the past couple of months, five more Associate Fellows have been elected:
Thank you to all of our Associate Fellows.
In this issue:
Dr Chris Tyler
Professional Development Policy Seminar
A number of key posts in Government are held by people who spent most of their careers as academics. These advisers and policy makers are brought into the civil service because of the knowledge that they bring to policy issues, even if they do not have a practical knowledge of policy. Consequently, the transition from university academic to government civil servant can be quite a challenge.
This month we piloted a seminar designed to introduce early career researchers to the possibilities and realities of engaging with policy. We heard from a panel of scientists who have engaged with policy, and a panel of policy professionals who have engaged with science, both of which led to enlightening and enjoyable discussions. Read more here.
Politicians frequently refer to "evidence based policy" and rely on a range of different kinds of evidence to support their positions in debates. We inevitably hear more about instances where science and statistics are misused in Parliamentary debate, but in the round, what is the status of science in Parliament and how do politicians decide what evidence to use?
To discuss these issues and more, we invited Dr Evan Harris, the former MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, and Dr Julian Huppert, the MP for Cambridge to give our fourth Distinguished Lecture. Both are passionate and effective campaigners for science and the use of evidence in policy, and they gave a thoroughly entertaining and thoughtful, if slightly alarming, presentation. A write up of the lecture is here, along with video.
Science and Policy Studies
In October, we launched a programme to identify the key questions on the relationship between policy and science (including the social sciences and engineering). We have already had a terrific response in terms of expressions of interest, and this is a final reminder that we would like everyone's suggested research questions to be submitted by 10 December. If you haven't provided us with an expression of interest, but would like to take part, don't worry, you still can. Read more here.