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


2 the Punching our weight report was 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! – a CERN for the social sciences! the case for the humanities, while more difficult, is just as important: our quality of life rests on it

3 the report divided its conclusions three ways: – production – mainly through academia – use – mainly through civil servants and ministers – co-production

4 PRODUCTION – 1:THE SOCIAL SCIENCES will illustrate the argument from my own field cities need well-informed plans and evidence-based policies much central government policy is implemented at an urban scale there is a lot of science that is potentially the basis of being well-informed, much of it systematically applied in the private sector but not extensively in the public sector it offers an interesting kind of evidence base: by building computer models that represent an existing situation, a What if? forecasting capability can be developed in suitable circumstances – a kind of flight simulator so aim to describe what some of this can offer

5 inner city regeneration poor towns – e.g. seaside towns responding to climate change unemployment, long-term sickness – benefits issues poor quality housing stock; homelessness failing schools variations in levels of health provision: costs in the health service crime, prisons multiple deprivation – long-term unemployment, NEETs – failed in, or failed by, the education system Some of the agenda: wicked problems

6 Outer London NUTS2 area student flows to university (all schools) Legend 20 students 50 students 100 students 200+ students

7 Inner London NUTS2 area student flows to university (all schools) Legend 20 students 50 students 100 students 200+ students

8 Inner and Outer London NUTS2 areas student flows to university (Prospering Suburbs) Legend 20 students 50 students 100 students 200+ students

9 Inner and Outer London NUTS2 areas student flows to university (Blue Collar Communities) Legend 20 students 50 students 100 students 200+ students

10 Interdependence many of the questions are linked for example, – housing problems, which are often seen as problems of housing supply – are actually usually income problems, – and income problems are often education/skill problems

11 THE SCIENCE what is needed has various names: – a decision support system – an analysis system – a planning system but must be underpinned by an effective information system a GIS can be an effective organiser for this – but this implies taking a wider view of GIS a CityIS or a GovIS? this would provide the analytical capability that would underpin policy development and design

12 An example: London retail centres

13 this kind of system is systematically employed by major retailers; its value in this context is proven it can also be used the other way round: to measure the accessibility of residents of particular areas to, say, supermarkets

14 the same principles could be applied in many urban policy situations: – education – health – crime, police and CJS – social housing – employment services – transport but can then be broadened to embrace other sectors through other models

15 no good CityIS or GovIS anywhere? some good model applications, especially in transport but, mostly not applied, and the different areas are not joined-up most Government approaches in silos: – Government Departments – professions in the Civil Service local government better than this in a number of instances but typically: – alternatives not systematically explored – no effective cost-benefit analysis WHERE ARE WE NOW?

16 Regional and urban growth (BIS, HMT) PSA target to equalise GDP per capita across regions Migration (Home Office) – very poor data on international migration – differential impacts on each of 160 local authorities – could the Government do sample surveys ahead of a 2011 Census? USE – 1: BY DEPARTMENT

17 Education (DCSF, DIUS) how to combine secondary schools into federations to embrace failing schools analysis to explore the Governments choice agenda? what does the Governments HE widening access agenda mean for schools, choices of A-levels etc?

18 Health (DoH) the sector is data rich but disorganised the geography of GP delivery? the polyclinics controversy? the hierarchy of tertiary (university hospitals), secondary (general hospitals) and primary (GP surgeries performance indicators two ways round: the delivery unit and the residential area – e.g. dental services

19 Housing (CLG) food and environment (DEFRA): food prices, petrol prices, supermarket deserts,… benefits, pensions, care of the elderly (DWP, DoH): staggering costs to the Government; some good reports (Turner, Sutherland); microsimulation? criminal justice system (HO, DoJ, DCSF, DIUS): CJS information after NOMIS? transport (DoT), energy (DEE), culture (DCMS)

20 Joining up income-employment-education-skills: poor income generates poor diet, poor health, poor performance in education, inadequate housing, need for social welfare support, and, at the extreme, drugs-related crime: so??? the planning system: connects transport and land use with economic strategies and service provision. Does it????? who will design, produce and use a good City IS, or a GovIS and deliver science for cities????

21 PRODUCTION – 2: THE HUMANITIES 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)

22 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 public policy making rests on a cumulative inventory of knowledge – the same list of disciplines – 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

23 we can then move beyond the general argument to look at some of the products of research that are obviously applicable history – History and Policy Group – history and urban regeneration – heritage science – e.g. landscape and the environment – the transition from colonial rule to independence South Asian literature

24 philosophy – the philosophy of risk – bio-ethics languages – relationship of language policy and military strategy in occupied countries – policies and teaching materials in multi-language countries

25 law and the judiciary theatre: from classics through literature to history culture – the evolution of diversity – the role of the arts in diasporic communities

26 USE – 2: BY DEPARTMENT Education – 25% of students in HE are in A and H – X% of teaching in schools – importance of universities in encouraging and sustaining inward investment – curricula, exam boards etc – teacher supply – quantity and quality – lifelong learning

27 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 Y% of 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!!

28 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 some examples follow, summarising and grouping together where appropriate

29 Governments should – support the long-term as well as the short – be open to peer review and evaluation – publish both research and future priorities for research – 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

30 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

31 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 above all, this agenda should be tackled on a bigger scale!

32 CONCLUDING COMMENTS public policy research is, typically, inadequate and not 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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