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PUNCHING OUR WEIGHT: THE HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES IN PUBLIC POLICY MAKING Sir Alan Wilson University College London (paper presented by Professor.

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Presentation on theme: "PUNCHING OUR WEIGHT: THE HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES IN PUBLIC POLICY MAKING Sir Alan Wilson University College London (paper presented by Professor."— Presentation transcript:

1 PUNCHING OUR WEIGHT: THE HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES IN PUBLIC POLICY MAKING Sir Alan Wilson University College London (paper presented by Professor Shearer West, Director of Research, Arts and Humanities Research Council)

2 BACKGROUND report produced by the British Academy easier to make the case for the social sciences where there is a massive need: ‘public policy’ social science as ‘big’ science! but the case for the humanities, the subject of this conference, while more difficult, is just as important: our quality of life rests on it

3 THE PUBLISHED REPORT the report divided its conclusions three ways: – Production: what research in the Humanities and Social Sciences offers – The needs of users -- mainly civil servants and government ministers – Co-production as a model of working

4 PRODUCTION – TEACHING AND RESEARCH at the outset, there is an argument that public policy needs, in some deep sense to be cultured “One thing my development work has shown me is that public policy made without the influence of the humanities is likely to be cramped and crude. The cultivation of the imagination that comes with the study of literature, the cultivation of ethical sensibility that comes with the study of philosophy and religion – these are essential equipment for citizens and policymakers in a world increasingly united and driven by the profit motive.” (Martha Nussbaum)

5 PRODUCTION policy makers need to be aware of the understanding offered by history, literature, the arts, religious studies, law, languages and cultures, philosophy, architecture and design so the first role in public policy is to ensure that there are policy makers who are themselves cultured in this way and this is delivered through valuing the humanities throughout the education system – so this is the first element of production – policy makers as cultured individuals

6 PRODUCTION the second point is to note that public policy making rests on a cumulative inventory of knowledge but a body of knowledge that has to be maintained, added to and to be accessible - the cognitive, the creative and the communicative capacities this inventory is rooted in research and scholarship and research-based teaching

7 PRODUCTION together, the cultured population and the inventory of knowledge deliver: – clarity of thought – understanding – imagination – a knowledge of what is civilising – creative capacities – perhaps above all, civilised values we should not be taking a narrow view of utility

8 PRODUCTION we can then move beyond the general argument to look at some of the products of research that are obviously applicable – some examples from the UK History – History and Policy Group – history and urban regeneration – ‘heritage science’, maintaining and developing the skills base for the future

9 PRODUCTION Philosophy – the philosophy of risk – bio-ethics – trust and public life Languages – relationship of language policy and military strategy in occupied countries – policies and teaching materials in multi-language countries

10 PRODUCTION Law and the judiciary -access to justice and improving services to victims of discrimination Culture – the role of the arts in diasporic communities – the role of culture in community regeneration (e.g. research informing Liverpool City of Culture year)

11 PUBLIC POLICY USE – BY DEPARTMENT Education: Departments of Innovation Universities and Skills; Children, Schools and Families Department of Culture, Media and Sport Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Department of Communities and Local Government Foreign Office, Department for International Development Home Office, Ministry of Justice

12 Education 25% of students in Higher Education are in arts and humanities (500,000 students per annum are exposed to research-led teaching in humanities annually) importance of universities in encouraging and sustaining inward investment curricula, exam boards etc teacher supply – quantity and quality lifelong learning

13 Culture, Finance, Business, Economic an effective cultural environment is both civilising and an economic necessity – the latter enabling success in competing economies at various levels; inward investment follows the creative industries represent 7.9% of gross domestic product (GDP) A and H research underpins this through the cumulative knowledge argument – where did Shakespeare get his history from? Answer: Holinshed. Holinshed would have been funded by the AHRC of its day!!

14 Communities and Local Government understanding the population urban and regional regeneration housing cultural environments

15 Foreign Office, International Development languages, cultures: in-depth knowledge needed

16 Home, Justice street cultures criminal justice system migration

17 Cross-cutting; indirect impacts values of public life and their civilising effect workforce development social mobility quality of life inward investment migration driving creativity – everywhere, not just the creative industries

18 CO-PRODUCTION at its best, this means joint projects but it also means producers and users working together in a spirit of mutual understanding and cooperation, and this is the essence of the recommendations in our report

19 RECOMMENDATIONS: Government Governments should support the long-term as well as the short, should be open to peer review and evaluation, should publish both research and future priorities for research; they should invest in the research base so that they have the capacity for future work they should support more public policy work through properly valuing such work through funding mechanisms

20 RECOMMENDATIONS: Research councils and universities Research Councils should find ways of bringing their research communities to the users through mechanism that range from elements of PhD training to workshops and seminars; they should develop co-production models universities should review their engagement with public policy through promotion procedures, appropriate interdisciplinarity and capacity building

21 RECOMMENDATIONS: Learned societies learned societies should identify appropriate roles for themselves in supporting and developing the public policy research agenda in the UK, this has been successfully achieved by the Royal Society with respect to science policy and this may be a role model for other societies.

22 CONCLUDING COMMENTS public policy research is, typically, not yet fit for purpose the humanities and the social sciences are, potentially, major contributors it needs increased investment, but also changes in culture from both ‘sides’ the fact that the problem is now being clearly identified, and there are constructive proposals on the table, provides some grounds for optimism!


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