22 policy fellows start in central and devolved government

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Early and mid-career academic fellows will work in government departments on net zero, COVID-19 recovery, policy evaluation and foreign and security policy.

Policymakers need significant behavioural, economic, cultural, and social science input to address the major challenges facing the UK and make the most of future opportunities.

The Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) pilot policy fellowship programme, co-funded with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and government partners, responds to this need.

Enhancing relationships

The fellowships, each lasting 18 months, will enhance the relationship between academia and government by improving the flow of evidence, insights and talent.

Key high-priority policy areas have been identified for the fellowships, including:

  • net zero
  • health and social care
  • COVID-19 recovery
  • levelling up
  • foreign and national security policy

The aim of the policy fellowships is to help fulfill the potential of social, economic, arts and humanities research and expertise to inform and shape effective public policy and its implementation.

This investment is also part of a wider ESRC commitment to facilitate deeper and more enduring connections between researchers and policymakers.

Fellowship benefits

The policy fellowships will benefit government partners by:

  • supporting policymakers to access and use the best and most relevant research when developing new policies
  • drawing on the latest methods and evidence
  • working with specialists within the research community to establish networks of expertise

The fellowships will benefit the research community by:

  • providing an exciting opportunity to work in the heart of government and use research to inform major policy challenges of our times
  • upskilling researchers to enable more effective engagement and collaboration with policymakers
  • building relationships between academics, research organisations and policy organisations

Building new networks

As part of the scheme, the fellows will be managed as a cohort, connecting them, the relevant government departments and their universities to build new networks and peer support groups.

This will complement the exchange of knowledge, insights and evidence across government departments on priority policy areas.

These networks will also help to ensure that the policy fellowships have a lasting impact beyond the formal end of this pilot scheme.

The cohort of policy fellows join the existing ESRC and Administrative Data Research UK Number 10 data science fellowships, collaborating with:

  • 10 Downing Street’s data science team
  • the Office for National Statistics

Overview of fellowships topic areas

The fellows will define their specific projects with government organisations over the coming months.

The thematic areas they will cover include:

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Areas include:

  • behavioural science approaches to net zero: Dr Jacqueline Kirk, Nottingham Trent University
  • digital or data social science approaches to net zero: Dr Kavin Preethi Narasimhan, University of Surrey

Cabinet Office

Areas include:

  • evaluation methodology: Mr Jim Vine, University of Essex
  • national security: Dr Alex Tasker, University College London

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Areas include:

  • behavioural science approaches to net zero: Dr Joanna Hale, University College London
  • behaviours around waste: Dr Lili Jia, University of Cambridge

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Areas include:

  • behavioural approaches to climate change: Dr Rowena Hill, Nottingham Trent University

Department for Transport

Areas include:

  • transport and levelling up: Dr Jens Kandt, University College London
  • transport and COVID-19 recovery: Dr Caroline Bartle, University of the West of England
  • decarbonising transport: Dr Craig Morton, Loughborough University

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (co-funded with AHRC)

Areas include:

  • foreign policy and disinformation: Dr Sejal Parmar, Cardiff University
  • India and Indo Pacific region: Dr Barnaby Dye, University of York
  • non-proliferation: Dr Amelia Morgan, King’s College London

Home Office

Areas include:

  • cyber crime: Dr Katie Maras, University of Bath

Ministry of Justice

Areas include:

  • approaches to evidence and evaluation: Dr Anna Kotova, University of Birmingham
  • experimentation and evaluation: Dr Apurba Shee, University of Greenwich

Scottish Government

Areas include:

  • health inequalities: Dr Laura Tinner, University of Bristol
  • social care: Dr Jenna Breckenridge, University of Dundee
  • trade strategy: Dr Henry Lovat, University of Glasgow

Welsh Government

Areas include:

  • environment and rural affairs: Dr Sophie Wynne-Jones, Bangor University
  • skills, higher education and lifelong learning: Dr Elke Heins, The University of Edinburgh
  • sustainable futures: Dr Laura De Vito, University of the West of England

Supporting researchers and government

Professor Alison Park, Interim Executive Chair of ESRC, said:

The policy fellowships are an important example of how ESRC is supporting researchers and government to develop long-term relationships, helping to embed research, evidence and expertise within government decision making.

Given our commitment to strengthening relationships between researchers and policymakers, we are particularly encouraged by the high level of engagement with this scheme across the social science research community and central and devolved governments.

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