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Conceptual and practical insights on the link between research and policy – A UNESCO perspective 1.

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1 Conceptual and practical insights on the link between research and policy – A UNESCO perspective 1

2 Knowledge and its relationship to action lies at the heart of the MOST Programme. Knowledge that grounds policies on scientific evidence. Knowledge that renders policy-making more transparent and accountable. 2

3 UNESCOs Management of Social Transformations Programme (MOST) was launched in 1994. First Phase (1994-2003). Current Phase 2 started in 2004. Programme is specifically working on building efficient bridges between research, policy and practice. 3

4 MOST Governance/IGC Member States (2009- 2011) Programme steered by Intergovernmental Council (35 Member States elected for a 4- years term of office) and Scientific Advisory Committee (6 renowned social scientists representing the six regions of the world). At the national level, it encourages the establishment of MOST National Committees. 4

5 Conceptual and Practical Approach. Research Policy Reflections: Promoting participatory, deliberative methodologies. Making use of ICTs. Fora of Ministers of Social Development: Regional and Sub-Regional Fora. Responding to global challenges. Generating a novel policy-space in which the research- policy linkages can play out fully. Policy Research Tool: The MOST Policy Research Tool provides online access to policy-relevant comparative information. It enables users to obtain customized replies to transdisciplinary questions by drawing on select content from original research documents. 5

6 Building Bridges. Foundation Event: High Level Forum: Internat. Forum on the Social Science Policy Nexus, Argentina-Uruguay February 2006 Bringing together policy makers, researchers, representatives of civil society from more than eighty countries. Four days of discussions organized in the cities of Buenos Aires, Rosario, Córdoba and Montevideo. Innovative space for exchange of opinions, and sharing of conceptual frameworks. 6

7 Building Bridges. IFSP Forum, forums of Ministers of Social Development in four regions, participation in the World Social Forums. Practical instruments. Spaces for dialogue and reflection. Answer questions like: how to arrange inspiring events? how to engage politicians and researchers in in-depth discussion and analysis? 7

8 Innovating the Research Policy Nexus. EBP, Participation and ICTs. EBP is about hard evidence. It knows there are other sources of knowledge competing for attention but evidence has to be robust. It also seeks to be beyond ideology. 8

9 The primary goal is to improve the reliability of advice concerning the efficiency and effectiveness of policy settings and possible alternatives. The quest for rigorous and reliable knowledge, and the desire to increase the utilization of rigorous knowledge within the policy process, are core features of the EBP approach. (Head 2009: 16). 9

10 Primary concern of EBP is with flows and exchanges between the producers and the users of knowledge. Increasing the chances of both supply and demand/take up in the relationship between research and policy seems to be the key to hitting the target in the social sphere. 10

11 There is an underlying administrative rationalism, which Stone (2002) calls the rational decision model. 1 Define goals. 2 Imagine alternative means for attaining them. 3 Evaluate the consequences of taking each course of action and 4 Choose the alternative most likely to attain the goal (Stone 2002: 233). 11

12 EBP subscribes to a great extent to the instrumental rationality that underpins the project of modernity. Technocracy and the belief in the fact finding capacity of the social sciences has failed. Dealing with modern day risk and uncertainty requires more than expertise. It requires a collective process of reflection and deliberation over the processes society has set in motion. 12

13 Findings of collective volume « Knowledge for Policy. Innovating Social Research-Policy Nexus ». 1. Flyvbjerg, Van Langenhove and Torgerson: The social sciences have had enormous difficulties emulating the natural sciences. The social sciences deal with the normative. Also inherent constitutive power (double hermeneutic, Giddens 1987). 13

14 2. Howarth and Griggs, Zittoun, Torgerson and Flyverg: The role of the social scientist will have to be re-imagined. Work together with publics and officials, as an informed mediator, to facilitate processes of policy change. 3. Zittoun, Ladi, Howarth and Griggs: Discourses are important. They construct problems, and solutions. Structure public debate. 14

15 4. Carden, Milani: Improving links between social science and policy involves studying political and economic context, decision making process and research-policy institutions. 5. Carden: Capacity building within organizations. Enhanced contact between research community and policy makers. 6. Van Langenhove, Torgerson, Flyvbjerg: Institutional innovation. Participatory processes. Deliberative spaces. Use of ICTs. 15

16 Online Policy Deliberation The new information technologies may, for the first time in the history of industrial societies under liberal regimes, make it possible to recreate the perfect information arena, the agora of Ancient Greece. (European Information Society Forum Report 1999). 16

17 The Internet makes possible involving large numbers of users in a deliberation. The Internet provides relatively inexpensive public access to retrievable data. By making it easier for individuals to find and follow what concerns them personally, we open the door to political engagement to virtually everyone. 17

18 The Internet facilitates lateral, peer-to-peer and many- to-many interactive exchange. People discuss issues over a period of hours, days, weeks or months in an asynchronous fashion. Time for reflective debate and the space to develop evidence and argumentation. Participation open to all. Online discussion in language closer to ordinary people. Participants encounter new sources of information and new ways of thinking about issues. (Coleman and Blumler 2009: 12-13). 18

19 MOST moving towards creating partnerships for establishing national spaces of Online Policy Deliberation in developing countries. e.g. German Federan Initiative on Online Policy Deliberation. 19

20 The Research Policy Nexus and ICT. MOST Policy Research Tool The Tool was launched in 2007 with a collection on Knowledge for Higher Education and Research Policy. 2009 5 morecollections were added. 20

21 Online access to policy-relevant comparative information. Customized replies to trans-disciplinary questions, drawing on select content from various documents. Knowledge base of the tool: Social science research reports; Reports of policy experiences 21

22 Goals: Tie knowledge to agency Share experience across borders. North-South. South-South. Distil successful practices Users: Government (all levels) Policy research teams NGOs/civil society 22

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