A New Centre on Science, Knowledge and Policy

Together with colleagues at the University of Edinburgh, I’ll be launching a new Centre on Science, Knowledge and Policy – SKAPE – next week. It’s really inspired by two things.

The first is a recognition of the need for more critical and theoretically grounded thinking on the relationship between knowledge and policy. A lot of academics are instinctively skeptical about notions of ‘knowledge-based policy’, or ‘knowledge exchange’, or the whole ‘impact’ agenda. And there’s an expanding area of scholarship that explores and challenges these mantras, drawing on theories and insights from the sociology of knowledge, theories of policy and organisational studies. But too often contributions remain siloed in their own disciplines. In particular, political science tends to interrogate policy while treating knowledge largely as a given; while science and technology studies tends to err on the other side, exploring knowledge while treating the policy process as a black box. We are committed to exploring both sides of this relationship, and thus bring together a group of social scientists spanning STS, sociology, political science and theories of organisations and accounting. You can read more about our research themes here.

Second, there’s a lot of really exciting work on these questions going on in Edinburgh – spread across STS, Social Policy, Politics and International Relations, Law, Business, and Population Health Sciences. A group of around 12 of us started meeting to discuss our work in late 2012, and soon discovered we shared a number of mutual interests and approaches. Some of us were already collaborating, through various research projects, teaching and PhD co-supervision. The next logical step was to shore up this cooperation through building a centre.

SKAPE will consolidate and extend this research collaboration. We hope it will also act as a hub for exchange and collaboration with a wider community of researchers working on these questions across Europe and the world. And it will provide a base for extending our role in mentoring and supporting doctoral and postdoc research and CPD.

SKAPE will be officially launched on 26th June, at an event in the University of Edinburgh Business School.

You can read more about the centre on our new SKAPE website.

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