CSaP Annual Reception 2017: From artificial brains to academic silos

6 November 2017


Report by Katie Cole, Comms & Admin Co-ordinator

"It's been a huge privilege to be a CSaP Fellow for the past two years"

CSaP's 2017 annual reception saw Deborah Bronnert from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Professor Jaideep Prabhu from Cambridge Judge Business School, speak about the impact their CSaP connections had had on their work.
From holding an artificial brain in a Policy Leaders Fellowship meeting, to breaking down academic silos and encouraging interdisciplinary research, both speakers revealed that CSaP's work has had an impact in unexpected ways.

As a seasoned diplomat, with time in Russia and Zimbabwe included in her career, Deborah Bronnert was keen to talk about the impact that science and evidence had in diplomatic work. Although she occasionally felt that she might struggle to apply the subject of CSaP meetings to her own work in diplomacy, she had always managed to do so as the space given by the meetings gave her an opportunity to think afresh of a whole range of issues.

In just one example, Deborah explained how climate science had impacted Britain's response to the series of hurricanes in the Caribbean. Although science could not pinpoint the timing of a particular event, it did show that exceptionally devastating weather patterns were building up.

This allowed Britain to station resources in advance of the hurricanes and respond quickly once they had passed. The evidence also showed that the path of Hurricane Maria would mean that particular islands would not need to be evacuated, saving the lives of vulnerable people who did not need rapid evacuation, and who could be looked after in their normal environment.

"Ever since my first meeting I've been hooked"

Coming from an academic perspective, Professor Jaideep Prabhu explained the three key impacts that CSaP had had on his work. It had enriched his own thinking and research. As his area was innovation he had previously worked primarily with businesses. However he quickly realised how innovation is shaped by policy, including the impact regulation has on fledgling innovations.

Meeting Fellows also influenced his teaching. Along with arranging talks from policy makers to MPhil students, Jaideep also helps organise professional development events for senior civil servants from India. Arranging for them to meet counterparts during their time in the UK allowed both sides to discuss common themes and best practice in their work.

The Fellowship schedules also meant that he discovered other researchers in Cambridge who were working on similar ideas. This increase in interdisciplinary research helps break down academic silos, and together academics can solve big problems.

CSaP's reception was held at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London, and brought together members of CSaP's extensive network from government, academia and elsewhere. You can listen to the talks here:

Dame Deborah Bronnert

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)

Professor Jaideep Prabhu

Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS), University of Cambridge