British academy

The Academy’s public policy programme of work is overseen by the Vice-President (Public Policy), Professor Iain McLean, drawing on advice from the Public Policy Committee (PPC). The Committee is chaired by Professor McLean and includes Fellows as well as external stakeholders amongst its members.

Current Public Policy Committee membership:


Professor Iain McLean FBA, Vice President Public Policy (Chair)

Professor Tim O'Riordan FBA

Professor Anthony Heath FBA

Professor Dame Fiona Reynolds HonFBA

Professor Sarah Curtis FBA

Professor Sarah Whatmore FBA

Professor Nick Crafts FBA

Dr Robert Chote, OBR 

Dr Gemma Harper, Defra

Deborah Lamb, Historic England

Dr Guy Lodge, IPPR 

Mr Ray Shostak, EIC

Dr Helen McCarthy, QMUL, British Academy BARSEA recipient





24 February 2015 Conference Summary: British Academy and ESRC on the Future of UK Housing

In October 2014 the British Academy hosted a joint BA/ESRC all-day conference setting out the challenges for the future of housing in the United Kingdom. Details about the event and a summary of proceedings can be found at the link above.

20 February 2015 British Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh respond to devolution proposals

The British Academy and The Royal Society of Edinburgh have jointly responded to the proposals of the United Kingdom Government on further devolution. The joint submission raises concerns about the “enduring” nature of the proposals given the limited time available for consultation with civic Scotland and independent experts. 

19 February 2015 Beyond 2015: Shaping the Future of Equality, Human Rights & Social Justice

On the 12th & 13th February the British Academy hosted a two-day conference aimed at reducing inequality by working more effectively across sectors and disciplines. The goal of this conference was to set out priorities for the decade beyond the 2015 General Election.

23 January 2015 Policy Forum: First World War Wrecks

Yesterday the British Academy/Honor Frost Foundation Steering Committee on Underwater Cultural Heritage held a private policy forum to discuss investigating and safeguarding First World War shipwrecks.  

7 November 2014 IFS Briefing: Child Development and Policy Interventions

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

3 November 2014 Panel Discussion: A Presumption Against Imprisonment?

At a British Academy event, Nick Hardwick CBE, HM Chief Inspection of Prisons examined ways to alleviate the “pressure” on the UK prison system. He took part in a panel discussion with Juliet Lyon CBE, Director of the Prison Reform Trust, and Professor Mike Hough, Birkbeck University of London, alongside Professor Alison Liebling, University of Cambridge and Professor Andrew Coyle CMG, Emeritus Professor at King’s College London who formed part of the Steering Group for the British Academy report, A Presumption Against Imprisonment. To watch the videos of the panel discussion, click here.

14 Oct 2014 Blogs: 2014 Party Conferences

Between September and October, the British Academy jointly held a breakfast roundtable discussion at the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat party conferences. In three separate blog pieces, Professor Kate Pickett summarises the discussion and debate at the Labour session, Professor David Parker FBA gives an overview of the Conservative Party Conference session and Professor Dame Helen Wallace FBA provides an account of the Liberal Democrat Conference session.

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 5 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.