British academy

Public Policy at the British Academy

The Public Policy programme of activities includes reports and events, which engage expertise within the humanities and social sciences to shed light on wider public policy issues. This programme was launched in October 2009.

For further details see About Public Policy at the BA.


 Panelists and their reporst at the launch of Foundations for the Future  


11 Sepember 2014 IFS Briefing: Child Development and Policy Interventions

On 5th November 2014, the British Academy will host an Institute for Fiscal Studies briefing on Child Development and Policy Interventions. Drawing on research findings, the briefing will focus on whether, and how, policy interventions affecting the early childhood environment influence child development in the early years.

5 September 2014 Panel Discussion: ‘A Presumption Against Imprisonment: Social Order and Social Values’

On 28th October 2014, The British Academy will host a panel discussion on Crime, Punishment and Imprisonment. Invited experts will examine the findings and policy recommendations of the British Academy report, A Presumption Against Imprisonment: Social Order and Social Values, and will offer their views on whether we are right to rely so heavily on imprisonment, especially given its financial and human cost, and how we may go about reducing our reliance on this mode of punishment. 

28 July 2014 Briefing: 'The Social Sciences and Humanities Aspects of Deep Disposal of Radioactive Waste'

 A British Academy briefing on the disposal of radioactive waste has shed light on the reasons why the disposal of radioactive waste is proving to be so contentious, divided, and prolonged, and has made a series of recommendations on how the process might be improved. These recommendations have influenced a White Paper by the Department for Energy and Climate Change on developing a framework for the long-term management of higher activity radioactive waste.

3 July 2014 Report: ‘A Presumption Against Imprisonment: Social Order and Social Values’

The British Academy has published a report on crime and punishment, and the need for the UK to reduce its reliance on imprisonment. The report explores the reasons behind the UK’s high prison population, the political and social motivations behind attempts to reduce it, as well as six recommendations of how policymakers might go about doing so.

21 May 2014 Blog: Rethinking Ageing Populations

Following the recent series of British Academy Debates on ageing, Chris Phillipson, Professor of Sociology and Social Gerontology at the University of Manchester, and one of the authors of the British Academy Public Policy report on health inequalities, If you could do one thing..., has provided his own contribution on the topic to our Policy Perspectives blog. The post considers how to re-think the long-term impact of demographic change and the meaning of ageing.

19 May 2014 Video: IFS Annual Lecture 2014 by Professor Raj Chetty

The British Academy was pleased to host the 2014 IFS Annual Lecture, which this year was delivered by Professor Raj Chetty, Bloomsberg Professor of Economics at Harvard. Chetty's research combines empirical evidence and economic theory to help design more effective government policies, and his work on tax, unemployment insurance, and education has been widely cited in media outlets and Congressional testimony. The Determinants of Social Mobility: New Evidence and Policy Lessons was recorded and is available to stream via the event page or from the British Academy’s youtube channel.

13 May 2014 Video: Understanding Financial Markets: Research, Practice and Policy

On 30 April 2014 the British Academy, the Cambridge-INET Institute and Cemmap co-hosted a lecture on ‘Understanding Financial Markets: Research, Practice and Policy’. The Academy was pleased to welcome Elroy Dimson (Judge Business School) and Maureen O’Hara (Cornell) as speakers. The full lecture was recorded and is available to stream from the event page or from the British Academy’s youtube channel.

8 April 2014 Publication: Enlightening the Constitutional Debate

Between January 2013 and March 2014, the British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh held a series of 11 focused events to look deeper into the issues affecting Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom following the Referendum on Scottish independence. This book contains a synthesis of the discussions which took place at these events, and also includes an introduction by Professor Iain McLean FBA FRSE, Vice President of Public Policy at the British Academy, and Professor Alan Alexander, General Secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

8 April 2014 Video: United Kingdom(s)? Scotland's Referendum & Britain's Future

On Wednesday 5th March 2014 the British Academy held a public event to discuss the historical, legal and constitutional issues around the referendum on Scottish independence. The seminar addressed the resilience and possible evolution of the constitutional union between Scotland and the other parts of the United Kingdom, taking account of historical development since the 1707 foundation and assessing contemporary trends, in particular the Scottish independence referendum scheduled for September 2014. The event included a host of expert speakers and will was hosted by the BBC's Sally Magnusson. The video is now available to stream through the event page or the Youtube channel.

8 April 2014 Publication: Sustainable Prosperity: New directions for social science research

The British Academy and ESRC have published a summary of a unique scoping workshop on sustainable prosperity co-hosted by the two organisations on 20 February 2014. This interactive event brought a diverse range of people and perspectives together to discuss novel ideas and fresh approaches to the issue of building an economy that fosters sustainable prosperity.

24 March 2014 Publication: The 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage: The case for UK ratification

The British Academy and the Honor Frost Foundation have published a Briefing Note which identifies five key reasons why the UK should ratify the 2001 UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage. The centenary of the First World War is ample reminder that the remains of many British ships and seafarers rest on the seabed beyond our Territorial Sea. The UK should take advantage of the positive mechanisms set out in the Convention to safeguard the last resting places of so many and ensure that the UK’s interests are fully respected.

25 February 2014 Report: The shifting face of workplace pensions

The British Academy today publishes a report on the ongoing shift from Defined Benefit to Defined Contribution pensions. The shifting face of workplace pensions: The retreat of employers and growth of defined contribution by Professor Anthony Neuberger explores the shift from DB to DC and analyses the many alternative structures and choices in the design of DC pensions around the world. The report also looks at the principal design areas and offers observations towards the current pensions debate in the UK.

16 January 2014 Report: "If you could do one thing..." Nine local actions to reduce health inequalities

The British Academy has published a collection of opinion pieces on health inequalities from leading social scientists. Each of the authors has written an article, drawing on the evidence base for their particular area of expertise, identifying one policy intervention that they think local authorities could introduce to improve the health of the local population and reduce health inequalities.