Campaign event hears of plans for important report

4 April 2014

Sir Ivor Crewe

The publishers SAGE hosted an event for the Campaign at the Reform Club in London in April 2014 to mark the Campaign’s first three years. At the event the Campaign announced that it will write a major report on the value of the social sciences, to be released ahead of the 2015 General Election. The report will be supported by SAGE. More on the report

Ziyad Marar, Global Publishing Director of SAGE, introduced the evening by reminding the audience of the serious problems facing social science across the globe, especially in the USA, where there were threats to its funding.

SAGE’s Board, said Mr Marar, was interested in advocacy issues because Sara Miller McCune, SAGE’s Chair, believed passionately in the intrinsic value of social science and its contribution to society. From this passion, Sara and her husband had set up SAGE to be a voice for social science.

Professor James Wilsdon, the Chair of the Campaign, expressed gratitude to Dr Miller McCune and SAGE for their support of the event and other activities of the Campaign and Academy of Social Science. He congratulated SAGE for its strong leadership in defence of social science.

The Campaign might lack the history of some other campaigning bodies, he said, but it would make up for that with the force of its arguments and the quality of its evidence. By bringing together a strong group of universities, publishers and others, the new report would articulate the case for social science as powerfully as possible.

Social science needed to have a “chorus” of voices to speak up, he said. He hoped that the team of leading thinkers who had agreed to oversee the project would work with other interested parties such as the British Academy and the ESRC. The Campaign would keep in touch with its supporters with more news of the project and the ways in which it would draw upon the expertise available to it.

Professor Wilsdon also announced the appointment of the well-known journalist and policy commentator, David Walker, as Head of Policy for the Campaign and the Academy. More about David

Professor Sir Ivor Crewe, President of the Academy, which launched the Campaign, offered a vote of thanks, noting the opportunities and challenges for social science in the UK, which, he reminded the audience, was world-class by all measures.

He looked to the Academy and Campaign to sustain that status, to persuade the government to value it, and use the fruits of social science for the public benefit.

Social scientists could take time to examine and think, accumulating experience and expertise, unlike rotating officials in government, he said. “All the insuperable policy challenges facing the government and society need input from social science”, he said.

He saw three challenges for the Campaign and Academy. Firstly, to educate policymakers to manage their expectations of social science – it rarely provided a magic wand of instant solutions, but rather looked at developments over the long term. Secondly to maintain the supply of well-trained UK based social scientists, and, as part of this the problem of postgraduate funding needed to be addressed. Finally, the resource base for UK social science needed strong defence in the face of the comprehensive spending review after the General Election.

Tim Harford, presenter of the BBC 4 radio programme More or Less and Financial Times journalist, told the story of Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom and her work to demonstrate the value social science has in solving the problems facing society.

Below: photos from the event (© David Simmons) – Campaign Chair Professor James Wilsdon is top left:

SAGE event guests

SAGE event guests