CSaP partnered with the British Academy for a series of three seminars on Cohesive Societies in autumn 2019. Experts from Durham University, the University of Bristol and the University of Oxford discussed their work on social cohesion and wellbeing, multiculturalism, and the multi-faceted measurement of social cohesion.
Practical examples were shared by Policy Fellows who joined the discussions. These included an outline of the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales’s approach to long-term wellbeing – connecting people with local planning initiatives, investment in community spaces and improved digital access.
The significance of community action during the Covid-19 pandemic was also discussed in a CSaP online panel discussion in June as part of our 2020 Annual Conference. Professor Dominic Abrams (British Academy and University of Kent), Policy Fellow Jane Kennedy (London Borough of Newham) and Professor Peter Taylor-Gooby (University of Kent) highlighted the upswing in volunteering during the Covid-19 crisis and discussed the relationship between government and civil society at this time.
CSaP’s Policy Leaders Fellowship, which provides a forum for Permanent Secretaries and Directors General in the UK Civil Service and their peers in other administrations (chaired by former Cabinet Secretary Lord Richard Wilson since its launch in 2013), meets once a term to discuss a topic in depth with an interdisciplinary cast of academics. In June 2020 the Fellows considered how a deeper understanding of inequality, productivity and place in the UK could help ‘levelling up’ to reduce regional inequalities.
Academic experts in politics Andrew Gamble (University of Sheffield) and Michael Kenny (University of Cambridge) talked about changing expectations of the state in the context of the Covid pandemic and the implications for devolution and regional policy. Anna Vignoles (University of Cambridge) highlighted the importance of a human-capital-based approach and place-based investment in skills. Richard Jones (University of Manchester) emphasised the possibilities of using spatially sophisticated R&D investments to redress regional inequalities.
Leaders Fellows who took part in the discussion included Permanent Secretaries of the Cabinet Office, Welsh Government, and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government; Chief Executives of the West Midlands Combined Authority, Food Standards Agency, and Royal Academy of Engineering; and the Director General for Policy at the Department for Work and Pensions.