What do policymakers want from academics?

The University of Manchester has just published an interesting survey of senior UK civil servants, asking them about how they engage with academics and use their research. Colin Talbot and Carole Talbot find that civil servants report a generally high interest in academic research, particularly in field such as ‘public policy’. They note how odd this may seem since, unlike in the US, there is not as much of a dedicated public policy discipline or group with its own associations, conferences and University courses. They then note a small rise in dedicated Master of Public Policy (MPP) courses and wonder if they’ll rise further.

This produced two self-serving thoughts:

  1. The University of Stirling is launching a new MPP . However, our thinking is that it won’t directly attract many civil servants, who may be more likely to take smaller discrete modules or very short training programmes at or near work.
  2. The report talks about academic language often being more of a barrier than a bridge to discussions with their colleagues, and they seek to simplify academic research when distributing it. Here is a paper, soon to appear in Teaching Public Administration, which talks about that process of teaching and translation.

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