Major report will set out the value of social science to UK

2 April 2014

Professor James Wilsdon

Work has begun on an authoritative report which will set out the value of social science to the UK’s economy and society ahead of the next general election.

The Campaign for Social Science’s report, to be published by SAGE, a major sponsor of this initiative, will be presented to policymakers and MPs across the political parties in early 2015.

The Campaign’s Chair, Professor James Wilsdon, will announce the report at a reception at the Reform Club in London later today [2 April 2014]. The event, hosted by the publishers SAGE, celebrates the social sciences and the Campaign’s first three years. More on the event

“This will be a landmark report which spells out how important social science is to Britain’s future,” Professor Wilsdon will tell policymakers, funders and senior academics.

“We will gather up-to-date evidence on the health of social science and ensure that its contribution to society, the economy and public policy is intelligently communicated and widely understood.

“Just as the natural sciences and engineering will have a chorus of voices speaking up on their behalf in 2015, the Campaign wants to ensure that the case for the social sciences is being made more loudly, and with better quality evidence, than ever before.”

Ziyad Marar, Global Publishing Director SAGE, will say: “In the media, in policy making and government discussions, and in our daily lives, we can see social science at work. The value of such research has obvious and far reaching importance in explaining our social world. Since SAGE’s inception nearly 50 years ago, disseminating social science education and research has been one of our key founding principles, and our commitment to advocacy and support for these disciplines remains paramount.

“SAGE sees the Campaign’s initiative as a tremendous contribution to the debate on social science funding ahead of the next General Election and the subsequent Autumn Spending Review in 2015. We are delighted to sponsor and publish their landmark report to help ensure that the true significance of social science is widely understood.”

Professor Wilsdon will tell the audience: “The report’s tone will be confident and upbeat: UK social science is world class and has a fantastic impact story to tell. Innovative, high-growth sectors of our economy, and societal challenges like climate change, ageing, obesity and social mobility, demand a social science contribution, alongside the natural sciences and engineering.

“Social science itself is being transformed, through interdisciplinary ways of working and the rise of big data, randomised controlled trials and other quantitative methods.

“However, all of these achievements could be jeopardised, and future potential stifled, if budgets are cut or frozen for another five years.

“The report, to be published in late January 2015, will present a clear and compelling argument about the contribution of the social sciences, intelligible to everyone with an interest in the future of Britain’s economy and society. It will have immediate appeal to MPs and Whitehall policymakers, but also to leaders and opinion formers in business, media, local government, higher education, the NHS, consultancies, think tanks and NGOs.”

The Campaign is appointing a working group of 12 experts, chosen to be representative of key disciplines, practitioners and users of social science. The group, chaired by Professor Wilsdon, will also include two members of the Campaign Board. It will collaborate with the staff team to produce the report. See video of the working group.

At the event Professor Wilsdon will announce that David Walker, a leading writer and commentator on public policy and a former member of the Council of the Economic and Social Research Council, has recently been appointed as Head of Policy for the Campaign’s sponsoring organisation, the Academy of Social Sciences. In this role he will contribute significantly to researching and drafting the report.

Professor Wilsdon will thank Sara Miller McCune, the Publisher and Executive Chairman of SAGE, for her generosity in hosting the event and for SAGE’s continued commitment to the Campaign’s drive to champion the social sciences.

The main speaker at the event is Tim Harford, the economist, Financial Times journalist and broadcaster, and he will be followed by Professor Sir Ivor Crewe AcSS, the President of the Academy, and Professor Cary Cooper AcSS, its Chair.


1. SAGE is a leading international publisher of journals, books, and electronic media for academic, educational, and professional markets. Since 1965, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students spanning a wide range of subject areas including business, humanities, social sciences, and science, technology, and medicine. An independent company, SAGE has principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC.

2. James Wilsdon is Chair of the Campaign for Social Science and Professor of Science and Democracy, University of Sussex. Previously, he was founding Director of the Science Policy Centre at the Royal Society, where he led the Society’s evidence-gathering and advocacy through the 2010 election and spending review.

3. David Walker is a Contributing Editor of Guardian Public, a former Director of Public Reporting at the Audit Commission, and a former member of Council and Chair of the Methods Committee at the Economic and Social Research Council.