Thursday, 26 March 2015

Engaging with Politicians & Policymakers

Academics and politicians don't, traditionally, mix. The academics often see the politicians as Machiavellian mischief makers; politicians see academics as detached boffins. There's mutual distrust.

Last week's Grants Factory tried to remedy that. The Parliamentary Outreach Service (POS) showed that, not only were politicians not antagonistic to academics, but they actually valued and benefited from their research. Prof Jagjit Chadha (Economics) also spoke about the potential benefit for academics, in engaging with the parliamentary system, of understanding how decisions are made, and of playing a part in helping those decisions to be better informed.

He felt that it could be an immensely rewarding experience, both from just being part of the “process”, but also from having a real route to impact for your work. He did, however, warn of a couple of pitfalls that he had observed. Firstly, you need to beware of “capture” by politicians and policy makers, who will try to influence your input and research. Secondly, you may be exposed to potentially hostile media interest. This is outside the experience of most academics, and he advised that you get good media management support.

MPs are, by their very nature, generalists. They're paid to have shallow opinions on a broad range of issues. To deepen these opinions somewhat, they rely for their information on three sources:

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

AHRC Announces Emergency 'Car Park Excavation' Scheme

AHRC: 'Plenty more where he came from'
The excitement surrounding the discovery of the remains of the last Plantagenet king, Richard III, under a car park in Leicester in August 2012, was reignited by his reburial at the weekend.

The AHRC has responded to the public excitement by issuing a NERC-style 'urgency' grant for anyone interested in digging up a local car park in the hope of finding a king.