Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, CSaP has stepped up its activity to help policy makers during this time of complexity and uncertainty. We’ve hosted weekly workshops to discuss the impact of the pandemic; introduced a rapid response service to answer our Policy Fellows’ most pressing questions; and produced a podcast series on Science, Policy and Pandemics in partnership with the Cambridge Immunology Network and Cambridge Infectious Diseases.
Science, Policy and Pandemics
In March, CSaP launched a podcast series which sought to answer questions about our understanding of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the epidemiology, the basis on which governments are making decisions, how much confidence we can have in the knowledge models are producing, and how to manage the uncertainties involved in the crisis. This series was produced in partnership with the Cambridge Immunology Network and Cambridge Infectious Diseases.
Over the course of seventeen episodes, the series brought together policy makers and experts from both the sciences and social sciences in conversations which sought to educate the public and provide up-to-date information through a rapidly evolving crisis. Throughout the series, we addressed topics ranging from infectious disease modelling and diagnostic testing, to how children, the economy, and our food systems have been affected by the pandemic. We also explored the relationships between politicians and their scientific advisers, and the principles and practice of decision making in government.
Building on the success of this series, in the coming academic year CSaP plans to continue producing a science and policy podcast, with a shift to a longer-term focus. The second series of the podcast will focus on how to achieve a green recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cambridge on Call
During the Covid-19 pandemic, CSaP has been working with researchers at Cambridge to support our Policy Fellows as they respond to the crisis. We developed a rapid response service, Cambridge on Call, addressing questions put forward by Policy Fellows, by connecting them to leading experts covering a wide range of disciplinary perspectives. While some of the Policy Fellows’ questions related to the short term, there were also many who were interested in discussing with academics the medium- and long-term policy responses to the current crisis.
15 Policy Fellows took part in this pilot programme. The newly appointed British ambassador to China, Caroline Wilson, had a series of meetings discussing topics from zoonotic diseases to technology. Long-standing Policy Fellow Stephen Aldridge, from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, connected with Dr Flavio Toxvaerd to discuss an economic perspective on infection control. Ed Humpherson, Director General for Regulation at the UK Statistics Authority, discussed building a data quality index with Dr Marion Boisseau-Sierra at Cambridge Judge Business School. A series of webinars was organised for HM Treasury with our partners in the Faculty of Economics, and we convened a roundtable for the Cabinet Office on public sector reform in the context of Covid-19 and its aftermath.