UPEN: Plans and Objectives for Academic Year 2019-20
UPEN has formally existed for barely a year, and yet done a huge amount. And for that Gavin Costigan, the founding and outgoing Chair, deserves huge plaudits.
It wasn’t that the case for coordinating ourselves better on issues of common interest wasn’t clear, more that we needed someone with the of imagination and (plenty of) patience to do something about it. So can I thank Gavin, his brilliant team at Southampton (in particular Thea Kouraki), on behalf of the rest of UPEN for turning the theoretical case into reality. Which sounds like impact to me.
I am delighted – and a little daunted – to be taking over as Chair and to have the opportunity to build on what Gavin has achieved in the first year. As appears to be fashionable at the moment, I got the job via a leadership election (though perhaps unlike in some other elections that spring to mind I’d have happily cast my vote for the other candidate).
There are three things I’d like to do over the next year to consolidate what Gavin has begun.
The first is to develop a stronger two-way relationship with policymakers. We’ve established ourselves as an effective partner, making it easier for Government and others to ask questions of Universities. But what might policymakers do differently to be able to get the best out of us? What are the most effective ways of engaging academics, how can we be more involved in shaping questions rather than just answering them? What are the practical ways that will make it easier for policymakers to draw on a more diverse (geographically, demographically, career stage) field of researchers?
The second is to raise our profile with a wider set of partners, for example University leadership, NGOs and think tanks, and academics working on the study of policymaking. We should be seen as an expert partner who can offer valuable strategic advice on what works to secure policy impact.
And finally, I think we need to develop internal ways of working that reflect the fact that the network has grown and will grow further. As Gavin writes, the challenge of success is that it becomes unwieldy for us all to do everything as single collective. So we need to be able to delegate authority to sub-sets of the membership, for example in meetings where an invitations to every member institution is impractical and unwieldy. And it means distributing leadership, so that our activities and work programme reflect the diversity as well as the commonality of the membership.
I am really looking forward to the next year, and to working with you all to build on what Gavin started.
Stephen Meek is the Director of the Institute of Policy and Engagement at the University of Nottingham and Chair of UPEN for the 2019-2020 academic year.
Posted 12/06/2019 15:23Back