A History of Social Research in DEFRA and DECC: 2001- present
I am interested in anything and everything to do with the development of energy, environment and food policy.
Qualitative social and behavioural scientists have played increasingly significant and diverse roles in the UK government’s work on environment, energy and food in recent years. Advice from social and behavioural scientists has been utilised inter alia to support rural policy, public engagement initiatives, promoting pro-environmental behaviours, risk management and policy evaluation. Nowadays in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), and in the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), government social researchers are responsible for managing the translation of such research into policy. But the contribution that government social researchers could make to the construction of policy in the domains of environment, energy and food has not always been clear. When DEFRA and DECC were established (in 2001 and 2008 respectively), they employed zero government social researchers. They each now employ approximately twenty.
My research aims to understand the role of government social researchers working in the environment, energy and food policy areas. What roles do they play? How have their roles been shaped by – and indeed shaped – the changing epistemic, political and institutional contexts in which they operate? What lessons can be learnt about government departments' evidence utilisation?
I will answer these questions through a study of over 100 documents as well as interviews with university researchers, civil servants and other actors. I expect to draw conclusions which have implications for researchers, policy actors and knowledge exchange.My ambition is to open a constructive dialogue in order to explore possibilities for learning from this story – to account for the history of social research in DEFRA and DECC and to consider its future.
My MSc by Research Dissertation focused on the problems STS scholars might encounter when engaging with climate science and mitigation policies.
- Member of the Centre for Science, Knowledge and Policy: http://www.skape.ed.ac.uk/
- A student representative for the UK Association for Studies in Innovation, Science and Technology (2012-2013)
- Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Seminar, University of Newcastle, October 2015: Making Sense of Social Research in DEFRA, 2001-
- Policy Studies Institute, University of Westminister, June 2015: Rethinking Reflexivity in DEFRA?
- STIS PhD Day, University of Edinburgh, April 2015: Making Sense of Social Research in DECC
- BSHS PG Conference at UCL, January 2015: A History of Social Research in DEFRA, 2001-13
- Workshop on Science and technology in the service of the State: Understanding mission-oriented research systems in a changing world, University of Manchester, November 2014: Social Research in the Service of DEFRA
- UK AsSIST Inaugural Meeting, York University, June 2014: Co-producing a PhD: researching social research in DEFRA and DECC
- STIS PhD Day, University of Edinburgh, April 2014: Constructing Roles for Social Researchers in DEFRA
- SPRU DPhil Day, University of Sussex, April 2014: The Politics of Talk: Researching social research in DEFRA and DECC
I have also given presentations of my research to civil servants in DEFRA and DECC.
Funding and Awards:
- ESRC 1+3 Fully Funded Masters by Research and PhD Studentship Award. Sept 2011- December 2015, University of Edinburgh
- Emmanuel Miller Prize for my essay Is the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge compatible with Scientific Realism?. 2009, University of Cambridge
Experience and Qualifications:
- Guest Lecturer on Science and Society 1A course (September 2015): What Makes Science Special?
- Guest Lecturer on Science and Society 1B course (2013-2015): Scientific Evidence in Environmental Policy
- Senior Tutor for Science and Society 1B: Nature and Environment 2014-15 (Undergraduate Course)
- Tutor for Energy Policy and Politics 2014-2015 (Postgraduate Course)
- Local Organiser for an Imitation Game research project - see Cardiff Imitation Game
- ESRC internship with the Scottish Government's Environmental Analysis Unit, September 2013 - December 2013
- MSc by Research in Science and Technology Studies, University of Edinburgh, Sept 2011 - August 2012
- Internship with Camco Global's Advisory Team (now Verco), July 2011-Sept 2011 (part-time)
- Voluntary Research Internship with Involve, July 2011-Sept 2011 (part-time). See Briefing Note, The use of public engagement in tackling climate change, published January 2012
- Voluntary Policy Team Internship with Green Alliance's Green Living Team, Sept 2010-March 2011. See Report, Bringing it Home, published March 2011
- M.Sci., BA(Hons). In Natural Sciences (History and Philosophy of Science), St John's College, University of Cambridge, 2006-2010