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PolicyWISE gains momentum

A major new public policy initiative being developed by The Open University has been awarded £1m in funding from Dangoor Education which will support its launch in 2023 and development over four years. 

PolicyWISE will be the UK's first academic network to lead policy research and knowledge exchange across the four nations of the UK and Ireland which takes a deliberately comparative approach to public policy-making in post-devolution, post-Brexit UK. 

The initiative has been developing over the last year through dialogue with academics, civil servants and policymakers and the new funding allow the OU to go ahead with the recruitment of a Director for PolicyWISE and supporting roles: Senior Business Manager, External Affairs & Communications Manager and Support Officer. 

Louise Casella, Director of the OU in Wales, who has led the development of PolicyWISE, said: 

"We're delighted to receive significant funding from Dangoor Education which recognises the exciting potential of PolicyWISE and the OU's four nations experience to deliver comparative insights." 

Academic institutions have been brought on board as collaborative partners: Cardiff University, Trinity College Dublin, Queen University Belfast, The University of Edinburgh and University College London. Dr Kim Barker from the Faculty of Business & Law has been the OU's academic lead for the development phase. 

The Dangoor Education funding supports PolicyWISE through its first four years while further fundraising and contracts are pursued. As well as the Director, there will be two institutionally funded post-doctoral research positions linking the work of PolicyWISE to Societal Challenges and the OU's own research strategy. 

A series of workshops with policymakers, civil servants, and academics have already received excellent feedback about the need for the network and the importance of a 'safe' and neutral space to discuss policy challenges. Running up to 23 November, the seminar series – Wicked Problems – explores themes such as violence against women and girls; mental health; post-Covid educational inequalities; children and young people's health and net zero. 

Louise said: 

"Uniquely, as a university of four nations which also operates in the Republic of Ireland, we are strongly placed to act as the nexus of this initiative and bring together partners to deliver comparative insights. 

"The OU not only generates world-leading research to address the challenges we face as a society but ensures that such research is shared and put to work for society's benefit.  We want to draw on the strengths across our nations to help create better public policy that really makes a difference to the lives of people and to communities."

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