Science, democracy and policy-making

While the political world that Bernard Crick analysed was mired in uncertainty, the challenges for politics in the twenty-first century are greater and more profound than they have ever been.

As Zygmunt Bauman memorably put it, we live in a ‘liquid’ late-modern world characterized by various risks across a number of policy areas, fluid innovations in science and technology, unpredictable dynamics of climate change, mass migration and societal/cultural instability, and the growth of ‘security’ and ‘resilience’ as key concepts for academics and policymakers. Understanding these processes and challenges, and the implications they have for improving the functioning of our political systems, will be crucial to promoting a better understanding of politics in late-modernity.

How do politicians, the public, and academics understand the changing role of science and new technologies? How should governments (at all levels) access scientific advice, evidence and expertise? What role should the public play in evidence-informed decision-making? And how can scientific advice and evidence shape responses in crises and emergencies?

This research strand is led by Professor James Wilsdon, Professor of Research Policy in the Department of Politics, and Director of Impact and Engagement in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield, and is in partnership with the International Network for Government Science Advice, which was founded in 2014 to share best practices and build capacity in the research, policy and practice of evidence-informed decision-making.




Ongoing projects

Completed projects

  • In 2015 Dr Matt Wood led a collaborative project with the Information Studies, Town and Regional Planning, Law and Education Schools at the University of Sheffield, which explored how Sheffield City Council manages social media engagement with citizens, using a case study of the 2014 Sheffield Half-Marathon.

We live in a ‘liquid’ late-modern world characterized by various ‘risks’ across a number of policy areas, fluid innovations in science and technology