Comment Blog 17 January, 2023

Announcing our 2023 Reform Scholars

Simon Kaye
Director of Policy

Today we’ve announced our first ever cohort in the Reform Scholars Programme. Academics drawn from five of our partners – The Faculty of Social Sciences at Sheffield, Imperial’s The Forum, Policy@Manchester, York’s Faculty of Social Sciences, and the Centre for the Study of Governance and Society at King’s College London – will be bringing the policy implications of their original research to bear on the many challenges faced by government.

Our fantastic first cohort of eleven Scholars confirms a suspicion of mine – one I’ve held since my own days as an early career academic. There is some incredibly important research going on within universities that, all too often, doesn’t find its way to policy professionals, decision-makers, or politicians. A lot of this work is being done by research associates, lecturers, and senior lecturers, not the professors we almost exclusively hear from.

The diversity of the projects that our Reform Scholars are working on is remarkable – from the implications of the use of AI systems in public services to the impact of the proliferation of online provision in primary health care; from the best way to improve the nuance and diversity of expert advice to government, to the potential of regulatory ‘sandboxes’ to boost innovation in local places.

This pioneering programme also marks the beginning of a truly interdisciplinary network, where academics from across the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences will come together to explore policy ideas and bring new thinking to the attention of Westminster and Whitehall. Among our first group we already have scholars from departments of planning, management, law, sociology, education, political economy, engineering, and global health. And every year we will announce a new cohort, building an ever-growing network of policy-savvy academics who can help us find solutions to social policy problems.

This disciplinary, methodological, and cognitive diversity is a huge part of why we are launching the programme. By increasing the range of viewpoints and perspectives that are brought to the attention of our leaders, we believe we can improve the national policy debate. It’s one of the ways we’re living up to our promise to be a home for ‘bold ideas, big conversations’.

You can expect to hear a lot more from our Reform Scholars this year as their projects develop. I couldn’t be more excited to help bring their insights to you.

And if you are an academic yourself, part of a policy impact team at a university, or know an early-mid career academic who might be interested in this programme – we want to hear from you: