Thinking Strategically Seminar Series
The workshop will be held in person and online.
Speakers include: Members of the Cross-Whitehall Languages Group; Heike Bartel (Nottingham) online; Andrea Hammel (Aberystwyth); Will Lamb (Edinburgh) online; Jonathan Patterson (Oxford); Fabienne Viala (Warwick).
13:00 Welcome: Wendy Ayres-Bennett (ILCS, London), Charles Burdett (ILCS, London), Member of the Cross-Whitehall Languages Group
13:15 Short presentations by speakers, followed by Q&A
15:10 Tea/coffee break
15:30 Group discussions
15:50 Final panel bringing together suggestions for concrete outcomes
16:30 Session end
The aim of this workshop is to explore how we can better promote and facilitate collaboration in relation to language-sensitive policy making and demonstrate the value of research on languages across a range of government areas. Fresh opportunities for collaboration between academics and policymakers on language policy are afforded by the creation of a new academic engagement subcommittee of the Cross-Whitehall Language Group, which has as a strategic goal the provision of an up-to-date, evidence-based case for change and cohering assessment and of key information to support HMG policy decisions.
The difficulties of collaboration to date are well known. On the one hand, there is a wealth of academic research and expertise on languages which could help inform and shape policymaking. A 2018 Institute for Government report on ‘How government can work with academia’ noted that “Most policy officials feel they do not have time to engage with academics. When they do, they often struggle to find relevant research.” Transfer of research findings on language(s) is working reasonably well in the case of the DfE, but less well, or not at all, in the case of other ministries and departments. On the other hand, academics are producing research without a clear idea of how, or indeed whether, it might be useful for government. The need to show ‘impact’ has increased the imperative on academics to engage with government and other stakeholders. Consequently, many researchers are producing research in the hope it will be useful without prior engagement with policymakers. One of the key issues is uncertainty about channels of communication, and there is a need for transparency on both sides. Another is the absence of reference to languages in the government’s areas of research interests (ARIs), although some of the high-level concepts mentioned such as ‘community cohesion’, ‘understanding soft power between others’ and ‘reducing inequalities’ clearly have language dimensions to them. More details about how the ARIs relate to languages could, on the one hand, help researchers to design – or better co-create – research projects in the light of government priorities and, on the other hand, enable policymakers to receive the research-informed evidence which would be invaluable to them.
The workshop will include presentations from members of the Cross-Whitehall Languages Group about the research needs of their different departments as well as by researchers in languages who are at different stages in their engagement with government. There will also be interventions about the work of the UK Parliament Knowledge Exchange Unit, UPEN (the Universities Policy Engagement Network), and other relevant bodies.
All are welcome to attend this free event which will be held online and in person. There are limited spaces to attend in person so do ensure you register promptly to be assured of a place. If you are then unable to attend in person please contact us to cancel your place so that it can be offered to another.
The zoom joining link will be sent out two days before the event to those who registered to attend online.
Please register by clicking Book Now at the top of the page.