From the Other Side: Social scientists inside government

From the Other Side - Social scientists inside government
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Date(s) - 28/11/2011
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

British Library Conference Centre

A British Library and Strategic Society Centre joint debate exploring the opportunities and pitfalls of governments using social scientists to make sense of the world.

Date and time: 17.30-19.00, Monday November 28th, 2011

Location: British Library Conference Centre

To regulate, provide services and make policy, governments must try to understand society in all its complexity, and make sense of the world through all available means.

In practice, this often sees social scientists deployed inside regulators, public services and government departments to undertake research, analyse findings, and advise on policy design and decision-making.

This raises important questions for researchers trained in the social sciences around how to best be of use to decision-makers while remaining practising academic researchers.

It also raises questions for government regulators and departments around how best to use and integrate the work of social scientists, particularly alongside the use of evidence from the physical sciences.

This event explored:

  • What are the opportunities and pitfalls of practising social science within regulators, public services and government departments?
  • How can social scientists in government reconcile scientific methods with becoming agents in the way their organisation views the world and responds to events?
  • How do decision-makers in policymaking organisations respond to the influence of social scientists?

Speakers at this event comprised:

  • Pete Bailey, Social Science Manager, Environment Agency
  • Professor Betsy Stanko, Deputy Head, Strategy and Performance, Metropolitan Police Service
  • Dr Axel Heitmueller, Director of Strategy, Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust and former Deputy Director, Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit

The event was chaired by Professor Bridget Hutter, LSE and Trustee, Strategic Society Centre.


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