In May 2019, LSSI hosted an ‘Engaging Policy’ event for researchers at the University of Leeds. The one-day event brought together researchers with representatives from across the policy community, including from four government departments, parliament, the Economic and Social Research Council, Academy of Social Sciences and more.
Laura Evans of ‘Nifty Fox Creative (https://www.niftyfoxcreative.com/) provided live scribing for the event, summarising the day’s presentations and discussions in the form of innovative, visual summaries…
The day started with a presentation from Professor Andy Gouldson (School of Earth and Environment) to introduce new ‘Policy Leeds’ initiative – a new mechanism to act as focal point for policy-facing research going on at the University of Leeds, and providing support with design, research and delivery as well as strengthening collaborative links. Professor Adam Crawford (LSSI Director) then introduced LSSI and provided information about LSSI’s new ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) [Link to internal IAA page], and in particular, the financial support available through the IAA to support policy engagement in the form of our Knowledge-Exchange Fellowships and Public and Policy Engagement Funds.
We then heard about two Knowledge Exchange Fellowships (KEFs): firstly, Professor Anthea Hucklesby (School of Law) who engaged with the Ministry of Justice for her KEF, and then Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira (School of Politics and International Studies) who has spent time engaging with parliament. This was followed by a talk from Dr Jo Ingold (Leeds University Business School) with Richard Bridge and Ben Hepworth (Department for Work and Pensions). Jo, Richard and Ben’s paths have crossed at various points during their careers thus far (Jo formerly worked at DWP and Richard and Ben have both studied at the University of Leeds). Jo, Richard and Ben shared the ways in which they have worked together to achieve better policy making and introduced us to their top tips for collaboration and co-production.
After lunch we were pleased to be joined by Dr Rowena Bermingham from the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST). Rowena provided an overview of the structure of Parliament, an introduction to POST, and also imparted wisdom about the best ways for researchers to start engaging effectively with parliament.
Dr Autumn Pugh (Government Office for Science and Technology) then provided an introduction to the afternoon sessions by giving us some background to the Areas of Research Interest (ARI) documents that most government department have been asked to create and keep updated in order to communicate their priority areas. Autumn spoke about how the ARIs can be used by useful to researchers and how they can be used as a platform for engagement. Researchers then split off into three discussion groups: Ministry of Justice group (led by Rachel Dubourg, Ministry of Justice), a Transport group (led by Jo Bacon and Siobhan Campbell, Department for Transport), and a Home Office group (led by Jennifer Parfrement-Hopkins, Home Office). The discussions were focused around each department’s ARI or research priorities and intended to identify areas of common ground with Leeds’ research strengths as well as exploring barriers to researchers engaging with the departments (and vice versa) and potential solutions to these.
The final session of the day saw speakers come together for a panel session designed to explore how we might best overcome the challenges of getting research to effectively influence policy. The panel was chaired by Professor Adam Crawford and included: Richard Bridge (Department for Work and Pensions), Sharon Witherspoon (Academy of Social Sciences), Jacqui Karn (Economic and Social Research Council), Jo Bacon (Department for Transport), Jennifer Parfrement-Hopkins (Home Office) and Rachel Dubourg (Ministry of Justice).
We will be sharing more in-depth notes from the three discussion sessions as well as summaries of the information and suggestions shared in all of the day’s sessions as soon as we can. Keep an eye on our events pages too for more policy focused events and opportunities coming up in the future. You can find further details about the support for policy-engagement available through our ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) on our IAA Pages.