The Department of Politics warmly welcomes the appointment of Professor James Wilsdon

Professor James Wilsdon, one of the UK’s most distinguished social science experts, has been announced as the Faculty of Social Sciences' new Director of Policy, Impact and Engagement. Professor Wilsdon will also be teaching and researching in the Department of Politics.

Professor James WilsdonProfessor Wilsdon will join the University of Sheffield on 1 January 2016 from the University of Sussex where he is currently Professor of Science and Democracy.

He is Chair of the Campaign for Social Sciences, a national campaign for policies that support social science enquiry in the UK, and earlier this year was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, the UK's national academy of academics, learned societies and practitioners in the social sciences.

Professor Wilsdon is also the Director of the Nexus Network, an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded initiative which aims to join up research, policy and practice across food, energy, water and the environment. He will continue in this role when he joins us in January, adding weight to several of the Faculty of Social Science's research themes: Sustainable Growth; Inclusive Society; Wellbeing and the Life Course, and Digital Society.

Professor Wilsdon said: “With thirteen departments and ten institutes, spanning everything from economics to East Asian studies, management to methodologies, childhood to urbanisation, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK’s most dynamic hubs for interdisciplinary social science.

“We know that the thorniest challenges confronting us in the coming decades will demand the skills, insights and imagination of well-trained social scientists. I’m excited to be moving to Sheffield, and look forward to working with colleagues to demonstrate the vital contribution that social science makes to our economy, society, democracy and sustainability.”

Professor Wilsdon graduated with a degree in Philosophy and Theology from the University of Oxford and went on to complete a PhD in Technology Policy at Middlesex University. He is the former Head of Science at the independent think-tank Demos, and the former Director of the Science Policy Centre at the Royal Society. He is also one of the editors of the Guardian's Political Science blog, on science, technology and innovation policy.

Professor Wilsdon has published influential papers and reports around public engagement with research and science and innovation policy, and has a long-standing track record of challenging both academia and Government.

He recently chaired the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) independent review of the role of metrics and indicators in the UK research system, the results of which will feed in to the design of the next national research assessment.

The review published its final report The Metric Tide in July 2015. It noted that metrics should support rather than replace peer review, and proposed a framework for responsible metrics and a series of targeted recommendations to university leaders, research funders, publishers and individual researchers.

Professor Gill Valentine, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Social Sciences, said:

“I am absolutely delighted to welcome Professor James Wilsdon to the Faculty. His insight and experience extending the reach of research to the public and policy spheres will be an invaluable asset and extension of the Faculty’s mission to produce world-class research, making a difference.

“His work throughout his career to integrate both social scientists and the public in the development of science and policy is outstanding. It is with great excitement that we look forward to Professor Wilsdon joining us in the New Year.

Professor Nicola Phillips, Head of the Department of Politics, said:

"Professor Wilsdon is a terrific addition to our Department and we are absolutely delighted that he will be joining us.

"He is a distinguished social scientist with rich research and teaching interests, which fit well with our existing strengths in public policy and political economy, and at the same time bring fresh areas of expertise to enhance our curriculum and the breadth of our research. We are most excited about his appointment to the Faculty and the Department, and look forward to welcoming him warmly in the new year."

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