Reflections on UK science-policy relationships after COVID-19

Thu 13 Jun 2024, 17:30 - 19:00

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Portrait of male commuter at a bus station putting on face mask.
Priory Road Lecture Theatre, Priory Road Complex, 12 Priory Road, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1TU
Free, booking required

Delivered by the most outstanding academics in the UK and beyond, the British Academy’s flagship Lecture programme showcases the very best scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, behavioural and social scientists have drawn on their theories, methods and evidence to provide advice to policymakers. The translation of this advice into policies is often indirect and not transparent, raising questions about the nature of the science-policy relationship. Science has many ways of informing policy, including formal government structures, ad hoc and informal groups and networks, individual relationships and press, broadcasting and social media.

This talk will reflect on the UK’s science-policy relationship during COVID-19 and discuss the lessons learnt, which will be important for the UK’s preparedness for future crises. Drawing on the experience of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE) and its behavioural sub-group (SPI-B), the lecture will ask: was the model for translating scientific advice to policymakers as effective as it could have been? Could the science and its implications for policy and practice have been communicated better to the public? Do scientists have a social responsibility to discuss policy implications of scientific evidence, and challenge politicians when their statements or behaviour go against prevailing evidence?

Susan Michie Headshot
Susan Michie Headshot

Speaker: Professor Susan Michie FBA, University College London

Susan Michie is Professor of Health Psychology, Director of the Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London (UCL) and Co-Director of Behavioural Research UK (BR-UK). Professor Michie’s research focuses on human behaviour change in relation to health and the environment: how to understand it theoretically and apply theory and evidence to intervention and policy development, evaluation and implementation. She has held many policy-oriented positions, currently chairing WHO’s Advisory Group for Behavioural Sciences. She was part of the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group in Emergencies, both in the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and in the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has worked as a consultant with the UK’s Department of Health over many years. These experiences led to the co-authored article, ‘Lessons from the UK’s handling of COVID-19 for the future of scientific advice to government: a contribution to the UK COVID-19 Public Inquiry’. Her research – by collaborating with disciplines such as information science, environmental science, computer science and medicine – covers population, organisational and individual level interventions. She has published more than 500 research articles and is one of the world’s most highly cited behavioural scientists.

Free, booking required

This event includes a reception for all attendees after the lecture.

This event will take place in person in partnership with the University of Bristol. If you have any questions about this event, please email [email protected].

Image: Portrait of a commuter at the bus station putting on face mask, coronavirus concept. Courtesy of Halfpoint Images/Moment/Getty Images.

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