CSaP Newsletter — Number 32 (September 2013)
Message from the Executive Director
In this newsletter we look back over the past four years, and to the foundations of CSaP's early success. And we look forward to new initiatives as we bring the diversity and strength of our network to bear on some of today's most pressing Policy Challenges. If you share our passion for improving public policy through the better use of academic expertise, I hope you will find opportunities to work with CSaP in the coming year.
Dr Robert Doubleday
Feature: CSaP four years on - Dr David Cleevely, Founding Director
It's now just over four years since CSaP was launched. In that time, the Centre has built a network of more than 100 Policy Fellows; supported the professional development of more than 200 early-career researchers through workshops, internships and secondments; delivered close to 100 events addressing public policy issues; and participated in research programmes worth over £10m. CSaP itself has raised more than £1m in research funding.
Whilst our strategy has consistently been based on bringing people together, many individual initiatives have been tested and rejected along the way. Those initiatives that survive have done so because they work - and because they deliver value for money. This flexibility and willingness to experiment is one of the factors in CSaP's success.
Another key factor has been collaboration - as demonstrated by our work with a growing number of UK universities and learned societies, our 2013 Annual Conference, and our seminar series and essay collection Future directions for scientific advice in Whitehall.
We have learned a lot over the last four years about how scientific advice and policy making actually work together in the real world (and about when the interaction breaks down). We have also developed hypotheses - particularly about the way that networks operate - which may help to explain how those interactions could be improved. We have begun to lay the groundwork for a new research agenda about how scientific advice gets incorporated into policy, and how new technologies are changing our economic, governmental and social organisation (see A collaboratively-derived science-policy research agenda in PLOS ONE).
Over the next four years and beyond, we will build on what we have learned to develop CSaP as a world-leading centre, founded on research and collaboration, with a growing international network - and thus showing the way towards improving the impact of research on policy making worldwide.
(David Cleevely's essay on Networks, nodes and nonlinearity: how scientific advice gets into policy can be found in the Future directions... publication, which you can download here.)
CSaP seeks research associate for policy challenges
This autumn, we will kick off a one-year pilot for a new knowledge-exchange programme building on CSaP Policy Fellowships and ESRC Doctoral Training Centre internships. Funded by the ESRC, this initiative will enable government policy makers and industry leaders to collaborate with academic experts to address high-priority public policy issues identified by our Policy Fellows. Rebecca Fairbairn, ESRC's Head of Knowledge Exchange said: "We are pleased to be working with CSaP on this exciting new initiative which will provide direct experience for our PhD students of how research can be used in the policy system."
We are now seeking to appoint a Policy Challenges Coordinator to work with the CSaP team to deliver a series of meetings, workshops and outputs. Details of the Policy Challenges role can be found here.
The autumn is shaping up to be one of the busiest periods yet for the Policy Fellowships Programme, with a strong and varied cohort of new Fellows joining from local and national government and from the EC, a steady stream of return visits by existing Fellows, and the second roundtable meeting of the Policy Leaders Fellowship.
New Fellows will join from the London Borough of Newham, the Greater London Authority, the Welsh Government, HM Treasury, the Cabinet Office, Defra and the European Commission, to explore (among others) questions about innovation and the economy, green growth, European financial policy, the modelling of complex systems, biodiversity and ecosystems, and the internet and society. For more details see here. Invitations to meet Fellows during their visits will be sent out to members of our network in the coming weeks, but as ever we welcome expressions of interest from researchers who would like to be on the schedule.
CSaP policy interns learn new skills
Since January 2012, CSaP has welcomed four policy interns - from the Universities of East Anglia, Sheffield, Bristol and Newcastle. Funded by the BBSRC and NERC, policy interns spend three months away from their PhD research, working as part of the CSaP team on a range of activities - such as science & policy projects and workshops, progress reviews with our Policy Fellows, work-shadowing in a government department, and producing reports for our website. Interns gain first-hand experience of how scientific advice gets incorporated into policy, and develop the skills needed to help secure future employment. Sian Loveless, CSaP's first policy intern, said: "My time at CSaP offered a rather unique insight into the world of science and policy, in addition to the opportunity to develop practical work-based skills that were different to other placements - in particular, the value of effective communication of ideas. This is what the CSaP team specialises in." To read more about Sian's, and our other interns' experiences, see here.
Accelerating the impact of research
As part of an ESRC award to the University of Cambridge, CSaP is working with a number of partners to develop knowledge-exchange activities aimed at accelerating the impact of research. Funded by the Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) grant, these activities will enable social science researchers at all levels to engage with the public, private and third sectors. Building on our Policy Fellowships and secondments in government, CSaP will help deliver a series of workshops on best practice in knowledge exchange.
Digital Government - for the many or the few?
On 6 June, we welcomed Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle Central and Shadow Cabinet Office Minster, to deliver CSaP's second distinguished lecture of the year. Chi gave a fascinating insight into the issues surrounding digital democracy, and invited the audience to make use of the technologies available to engage with our MPs as often as possible. Read more here.
Practical advice for early-career researchers
On 3 June, CSaP partnered with the Cambridge NanoDTC and the Royal Society of Chemistry to host a career development day for PhD students interested in nanotechnology policy. The workshop had three main aims: to explain how public policy is informed by research and how policy affects what research is done; to explore how the work of early-career researchers can contribute to public policy; and to suggest ways in which interactions between science and policy could be improved. Read more here.
30 September: Winton Symposium on "Materials Discovery" - Cambridge Cavendish Laboratory
This one-day meeting organised by the Cavendish Laboratory will bring together leading scientists from around the world to explore some of the recent breakthroughs that reveal just how unexpected the physical world turns out to be. For more details, see here.
17 October: CSaP distinguished lecture - Sir Mark Walport
The next CSaP distinguished lecture will be delivered by Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Mark Walport at Peterhouse in Cambridge on 17 October. Sir Mark, who has served as the GCSA since April this year, will speak on the topic of Energy and climate change: challenges for science and policy. For more information and to register, see here.
9 November: Professional Development Policy Workshop for Chemical Scientists
In partnership with the Royal Society of Chemistry, CSaP is organising a workshop for early-career researchers in the chemical sciences, which will take place at the RSC in London on 8 November. Discussions at the workshop will bring researchers together with policy makers to explore longer-term questions around career paths and goals. For more details and to register, see here.
28 November: S T Lee Lecture - Professor Helga Nowotny
The next S T Lee Public Policy Lecture will be organised by CSaP on behalf of Cambridge University in November. S T Lee Lectures consider aspects of scientific, medical or technological research and developments that are likely to have significant implications for public policy over the next decade. Professor Helga Nowotny, President of the European Research Council, will speak on The odds for tomorrow: promise, policy and the public in the molecular age. For more details and to register, see here.
Other public policy events in Cambridge
Other public policy events in Cambridge are listed on the Cambridge Public Policy website.
News in Brief
Journal of Poverty and Social Justice accepts paper.
This open-access paper on 100 Questions: identifying research priorities for poverty prevention and reduction was authored by those who took part in a workshop hosted by CSaP and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in May (reported here). It is now available for download here.
CSaP welcomes EU-BON Research Associate.
Dr Elia Apostolopoulou arrives in Cambridge in early October to take up her new role at CSaP. In addition to carrying out research on the use of biodiversity data in European policy making, Elia will lead a work stream on engaging with policy makers in the European Commission and national governments. More information about the EU-BON project can be found here.
Science, policy making and public dialogue.
Following the CSaP/POST Horizon Scanning workshop held in March this year, the report for funders Sciencewise-ERC is now being worked up as a paper for submission to an academic journal. A lessons-learned exercise on the validity and effectiveness of our approach will follow. More details of the horizon scanning process can be found here.
Global Uncertainties Champion identifies new research requirements.
RCUK Global Uncertainties Champion Tristram Riley-Smith is piloting a triage process, selecting a small number of projects from over 1100 within the GU portfolio, to explore how he can support the delivery of greater impact through targeted interventions. Tristram is also working with stakeholders such as Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and the newly-created National Crime Agencies to identify new research requirements.
A debt of gratitude
CSaP would like to thank the David and Claudia Harding Foundation and the Isaac Newton Trust for their donations, which made the Centre's creation and continued work possible.