British academy


Modelling for Policy

Thursday 17 - Friday 18 May 2012
The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

Professor Tony Barnett, LSE Health and Social Care, London School of Economics
Dr Erika Mansnerus, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, LSE Health and Social Care

This conference addresses the pressing questions of how computational techniques help to predict and manage infectious disease risks. Modelling and simulation technques are used to reform vaccination strategies or to build predictive sources of pandemic outbreaks. The conference will discuss what kind of tools computational models are, with epidemiologists, modellers and public health researchers giving insight into how models are used in the governance of infectious disease risks.

The conference invites contributions from epidemiologists, climate researchers, social scientists, natural scientists, philosophers, policy makers, politicians and historians to create a dialogue between different fields. A special focus will be on how best to communicate the nature of model-based evidence across various expert communities.

Keynote address (delivered on Thursday 17 May, 5.00pm):
"From the world in the model to the model in the world" by Professor Mary Morgan FBA, British Academy-Wolfson Research Professor, London School of Economics

Scientific models offer small, abstract, accounts of the world, within which scientists explore their ideas about the world, and hope to learn something about the real world in the process. Scientists both enquire into the world of the model, and enquire with the model into the real world. While these are very different aims, the mode of enquiry can be understood as a form of experiment. Such an account immediately highlights the problem of making inferences from model experiments, particularly to the world that the model represents. This in turn focusses on the representing qualities of models that might make them useful objects for working with in the world, where comparisons with other forms of succinct representation suggest that both cognitive skills and imagination are needed for scientists to use models to remake the world through policy interventions.

Download conference progamme and abstracts (PDF file - 62 KB)

Conference speakers:
Dr Kari Auranen and Dr Tuija Leino, The Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland
Professor Virginia Berridge, London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Professor Robert Dingwall, Dingwall Enterprises/Nottingham Trent University
Professor Nigel Gibbens, DEFRA
Dr Gabriele Gramelsberger, Free University Berlin
Dr Helen Lambert, University of Bristol
Professor Melissa Leach, Institute for Development Studies, University of Sussex
Professor Angela McLean, University of Oxford
Professor Angus Nicoll, European Centre for Disease Control
Professor Sabine Roeser
, Technical University of Delft
Professor Charlotte Watts, London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

More about the Modelling for Policy conference, including copies of speakers' presentation slides, can be found on Dr Erika Mansnerus' website.