Huge thanks to Professor Peter Davis who gave an engaging, humorous and thought provoking seminar at BEIS in Whitehall, on micro-simulation techniques for policy making.
You can now watch the seminar online.
Peter briefly summarised his career history, which spans 30 years in a medical school environment as a social scientist and the challenges that presented in terms of sociologists being viewed as 'lacking reality, not engaging with the real world.' He also highlighted the fact that even in a medical environment there was an acute need for evidence, in both medicine and policy spheres.
CECAN's team were thrilled to host their official launch event at St Martin in the Fields Hall, London on September 13th. The event was introduced by Professor Jane Elliott (ESRC), closely followed by a keynote speech from Sir Mark Walport (GCSA), given to an extensive audience of Government policy analysts, academics, social researchers and business people.
An expert panel then discussed the question; "Is policy fit for a complex world?"
We were pleased to welcome Dr David Halpern (Behavioural Insights Team), Dame Margaret Hodge (MP), Dr Ulrike Hotopp (Simetrica) and Michael Kell (NAO), all wonderfully chaired by Dr Roger Highfield of The Science Museum.
The primary discussions were based around CECAN's mission of improving policy making for a complex world. Jane Elliott highlighted the importance of drawing on the breadth and depth of insights, methods and tools that social scientists can bring to policy making and evaluation, suggesting these are still under-utilised by policymakers and operational practitioners.
As part of CEP’s role as a partner in CECAN (Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus), CEP is carrying out a meta-evaluation of a sample of the evaluation projects it has undertaken over the last 10 years. The review will seek to learn the lessons from past policy evaluations, and the value of different types of approaches and methods used for evaluating complexity. This extensive meta-evaluation of projects will support CECAN’s initial scoping stage and provide critical insights in understanding complexity and developing new ways to measure the effectiveness of policies across the ‘nexus’. CEP’s Dr Clare Twigger-Ross and Dr Bill Sheate are joint project leads.
Introducing the newest member of the CECAN team based at The University of York - Adam Hejnowicz has joined as a CECAN postdoctoral researcher. He has kindly written a short biography:
My interests span ecology, greography, economics and social science in the context of environmental issues, nature-society relations and the science-policy interface. I have recently completed my doctoral studies in Environment Economics and Environmental Management at the University of York where my research focused on the theories and applications of ecosystem services, approached particularly from a social-ecological and systems perspective, and mainly in relation to science-policy and management-relevant environmental interventions - specifically incentive-based management strategies such as payments for ecosystem services and agri-environment schemes.
Professor Nigel Gilbert, Dr Lynne Hamill and Nicolas Payette delivered an intensive one day workshop in Agent Based Modelling, to a group of economists from UK Government on 3rd August. Delegates were impressed with the content of the course, and the speakers' knowledge and clarity of explanations. All were extremely pleased with the structure of the course and felt the day had been useful to their ongoing work in Government.
"It was a great introduction and overview to ABM..."
"I very much liked the applied aspect of the training, seeing models explained, the code and meaning, playing around with them and asking questions..."
How do we use policy modelling in a complex world? Professor Bruce Edmonds explored this challenging question in CECAN's second seminar on 18th July, and the session is summed up here by CECAN's Knowledge Integrator, Dr Candice Howarth:
The very nature of complex systems means that they can be impossible to predict, particularly when they exist in the context of structural changes. As complex systems need to be managed in different ways, so do the models that are used in policy development to assess how to navigate the web of challenges that characterise these systems. A complex system is one that is difficult to model (and at times cannot be modelled) and hence processes that occur outside its defined scope, can overwhelm its results. Professor Edmonds explored how issues that arise from modelling often result from confusion about modelling purposes, how models are used and the conditions under which a model is used and useful for a specific purpose.