Leeds University launches institute to boost academic-policy engagement

The university joins a growing number to create institutes to boost knowledge exchange with local and national government

University policy institutes have become one of the most visible forms of knowledge exchange in higher education – and the University of Leeds has become the latest to announce a dedicated facility.

The new policy institute, Policy Leeds, is to be led by Prof Andy Gouldson, an interdisciplinary social scientist who specialises in research on climate change.

The institute aims to stimulate academic-policy engagement, by engaging “policy actors”, like politicians, civil servants, think tanks and governmental organisations, with the work of Leeds researchers.

Institutes have become an increasingly common tool for boosting knowledge exchange; Nottingham, Bath, Glasgow and Manchester have opened similarly styled institutes for policy and engagement.

The institute has publicised three policy briefs, which cover areas of multi-disciplinary research with public policy applications. The briefs cover underground heat and energy storage, ‘climate resistant’ food systems and post-16 maths education.

With Policy Leeds, we want to build on this success and ensure policymakers can access the world-class research undertaken here in Leeds, which can help shape policies for the benefit of millions of people
– Prof Nick Plant, deputy vice-chancellor

Prof Gouldson said: “I know from my own experience that policymakers value the research, analysis and different perspective that academics can bring when faced with policy challenges.

“Policy Leeds will be charged with promoting the benefits of working with governments to our research community – and act as a brokerage for decision-makers who want to harness the University of Leeds’ expertise.”

The University of Leeds has contributed to the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies during the Covid-19 pandemic and undertaken 118 collaborative research projects since 2015 with Leeds City Council, covering issues from flood alleviation, child poverty policies and cultural industries.

Prof Nick Plant, deputy vice-chancellor for research and innovation, said: “Whether it’s advising Downing Street on the impact of coronavirus, or informing international action on climate change, researchers at the University of Leeds are already having a big impact and working with governments to solve the global challenges we face.

“With Policy Leeds, we want to build on this success and ensure policymakers can access the world-class research undertaken here in Leeds, which can help shape policies for the benefit of millions of people.”


Read more: UCL heads £10m project to improve academic-policy engagement

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