Culture clash – bridging the divide between science and policy

20 November 2012, 6pm

20 November 2012, 18:00 - 19.30 followed by a drinks reception
Hosted by the Institute for Government

Chair: Jill Rutter, Institute for Government

There are a large number of scientists employed in government and a large number of experts advising from outside. But Whitehall’s top positions remain occupied by people with arts or social science degrees and economics dominates policy thinking. How can the two cultures be brought together productively? How can science advice be more effective in government? Do scientists understand the many factors that influence policy making? And what are policy makers to do when “scientists” disagree?

A write up of the seminar and video coverage can be found here.

Confirmed speakers
  • Mark Henderson, author of the Geek Manifesto, and Director of Communications at the Wellcome Trust
  • Chi Onwurah, Shadow minister for innovation and science, MP for Newcastle Central
  • Katrina Williams, Director General for Strategy, Evidence and Customers, Defra
  • Professor Rod Smith, Chief Scientific Adviser, Department for Transport

Institute for Government
2 Carlton Gardens


This seminar is now fully subscribed.


Other seminars in this series

This is the first in a series of four seminars looking at ways in which government can make more effective use of scientists and scientific advice to improve policy making. This shared initiative of five partners – The Institute for Government (IfG); The Alliance for Useful Evidence; The University of Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP); SPRU and the ESRC STEPS Centre at Sussex University; and Sciencewise-ERC – will stimulate fresh thinking and practical recommendations on future directions for scientific advice in Whitehall, and will lead to the publication of a report and a final conference in London in April 2013.

For more information on other seminars in this series, and to register to attend , please follow the links below.

Seminar 2: Broadening the evidence base: science and social science in social policy
8 January 2013 (12:00 - 14:00 including lunch). Hosted by the Alliance of Useful Evidence at Nesta.

Seminar 3: Experts, publics and open policy
15 January 2013 (17:00 - 19:00 including networking). Organised by Sciencewise-ERC, and hosted by Lord Krebs at the House of Lords.

Seminar 4: Credibility across cultures: the international politics of scientific advice
6 & 7 February 2013 (starting with dinner on 6 February). Hosted by the STEPS Centre and SPRU at the University of Sussex.

Mr Mark Henderson

The Wellcome Trust

Chi Onwurah MP

Office of Chi Onwurah MP, Shadow Cabinet Office Minister

Professor Roderick Smith

Imperial College London

Katrina Williams

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)

Jill Rutter

UK in a Changing Europe

  • In news articles

    Culture clash - bridging the divide between science and policy

    The ‘Future Directions for Science Advice in Whitehall’ seminar series got off to a great start at the Institute for Government on 20 November, when panellists addressed a number of issues such as how to balance different types of evidence and value judgements, the seniority of CSAs within government departments, and the role of the media and House of Lords.