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Dr John Turnpenny, University of East Anglia

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Seminar
17 April 2012, 11am
at The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen
for scientists, students and other interested parties
Image of the 2012 seminar series logo

Dr John Turnpenny, Senior Research Associate, Tyndall Centre and CSERGE, University of East Anglia will deliver this seminar entitled "On tap, on top, or on the rack? The role of scientists in the wicked world of public policy-making".

We hear much about the need for policy to be based on ‘sound science’ or ‘good evidence’. Thousands of scientists spend millions of person-hours pushing the frontiers of knowledge, often funded by public money. So the ‘demand’ for, and the ‘supply of’ evidence is clearly well-matched. Or is it?

This talk is about the desire for evidence use in policy, the aims that different actors have for evidence and how evidence is used in practice. It is inspired by John’s personal journey from physicist to social scientist and his desire to understand how useful science really is.

The talk starts by discussing what we mean by policy, what we mean by evidence and using examples points out some of the, at times, ridiculous resulting contradictions. These illustrate the many different purposes of using evidence in responding to ‘wicked’ policy problems, and the sheer challenges of doing so.

The talk also challenges the commonly-held concept of evidence use as a linear rational process, and tries to unpick this complicated relationship. John will illustrate some of the issues raised with examples from his recent work on the UK House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee: the way this body has used evidence and the roles it plays.

Dr John Turnpenny is a Senior Research Associate with the Science, Society and Sustainability Research Group and Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. With a background in Meteorology, Environmental Science and Social Policy, he has carried out interdisciplinary research on areas including participatory integrated assessment and the nature of the science-policy interface.

His current research interests include the use made of policy analysis in public policymaking, the 'real world' research needs of policymakers, the various constraints conditioning selection of policy analysis tools, and the application of ‘post-normal science’ in practice.

This seminar will take place at The James Hutton Institute Aberdeen and will be broadcast live to the Dundee site.
 

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.