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Research

We are committed to rethinking public policy in the age of disruption, focusing upon the various kinds of inequality which sustainable and imaginative policy-making needs to address.

The Bennett Institute for Public Policy is interdisciplinary - connecting political thinking, economics, humanities, health, technology, engineering and science. Our initial research themes fall into three categories designed around some of the major policy challenges of the 21st century:

• Place and public policy
• Prosperity and productivity
• Science and policy

Place and public policy

A focus upon place has become integral to public policy.  This programme considers a number of increasingly pressing questions. Are cities the only sites of economic growth for the foreseeable future? Are profound spatial inequalities unavoidable given the agglomeration effects associated with technological innovation? Does a place-based approach to economic growth mean that more funding and attention should be placed upon towns and rural areas? And, do we need to decentralise decision making to respond to place-based concerns?

This programme hosts several on-going projects.

The left-behind across Europe, led by Davide Luca, offers a data-driven analysis of some of the political consequences of the geographical inequalities that have been opening up across most advanced economies, and asks whether public policies aimed at fostering agglomeration economies in large cities have contributed to the rise of political disenchantment and the growth of populism.

In our Place-based Industrial Strategies project, we are working with policy-makers in the UK government and in some of the new Combined Authorities, including the Greater Manchester Authority, to explore different ways in which central, devolved and local governments can respond to the challenges posed by regional inequality and stalling productivity.

This programme also encompasses Between Two Unions, a major research project, funded by the ESRC, which seeks to understand the implications of Brexit for the territorial governance of the UK.

And our latest project, Townscapes, offers an in-depth examination of the economic fortunes and public service footprint of towns across the nations and regions of Britain.

Prosperity and productivity

This programme is headed by Professor Diane Coyle.

Public policy is intended to lead to better outcomes, but what does ‘better’ mean? One important dimension is economic growth and productivity, but prosperity is a broader concept. How can policies deliver in addition these other dimensions of progress and well-being, from public health to fair access to goods and services? What measures are needed to reflect today’s economy and society, from tracking the digital economy and impact of other new technologies, to understanding the distribution of opportunities? 

The programme includes the project Practical Wisdom in a Complex World led by Dr Penny Mealy, and the Digital State project by Dr Tanya Filer. 

Man overlooking the water

Science and policy

This programme is organised in partnership with the Centre for Science and Policy and Churchill College.

Which are the coming challenges that natural and social scientists should together be addressing? And, has the public really had enough of experts, or does it want them to approach and present their knowledge and understanding on different terms?

This programme explores the role of expertise in policy-making today, and innovative ways of promoting an understanding of policy questions among scientists.