Social Science road show comes to Leicester

Posted by vm64 at May 16, 2011 11:43 AM |
The University of Leicester is to host a regional road show on Thursday 19th May that will raise key issues surrounding the significance of the social sciences in higher education, as part of a national Campaign for Social Science (CfSS) launched at the House of Lords earlier this year.

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 16 May 2011

Social scientists know what they do and why it is valuable, but it appears that some politicians, the funding councils, and the public at large, are less sure of what social science is and the contribution it makes. 

Does the term ‘social scientist’ conjure up an image in the public mind of a person doing something valuable for society? 

Do the general public have any idea of the spread of subjects that ‘social science’ covers? And do they appreciate what will be missing if social science melts away because of lack of adequate financial support from the government? 

“It seems that the answer to these questions is ‘No’,” suggests John Benyon, Professor of Political Studies at the University of Leicester, based in the Institute of Lifelong Learning, who is also Chair of the College of Learned Societies of the Academy of Social Sciences.

At a time of far-reaching changes in both the funding of higher education study and research and of sources of advice for public policy, the Campaign for Social Science sees it as imperative to ensure the public have a clearer understanding of the value of social science work. 

The CfSS was launched at the House of Lords on 20th January with speeches from David Willetts, Polly Toynbee and Trevor Phillips, amongst others. 

It will work closely with MPs.   Discussions have already begun with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Social Science and the Chair has agreed to consider presentations from the CfSS on a range of topics. 

The regional road shows are aimed at social science academic staff and PhD students in Higher Education and teachers and colleagues in the Further Education sector, as well as employers and business with social science links.

Professor Benyon said: “The social sciences in our universities make a huge contribution to British society. Graduates in social science subjects have many skills wanted by employers and social science research brings great economic, political and social benefits. Many international students come to Britain to study social science at our universities, and our research is held in high regard throughout the world. 

“Investment in the social sciences brings great dividends. Cutting back public funding for social science teaching and research in higher education is very silly and short sighted and if it is not reversed it will cost Britain dearly. That is why the Campaign for Social Sciences is so important.”

A successful campaign will mean that social science will be publicly valued and appreciated, as well as better understood both within policy making circles and the public at large. 

To deliver this, social scientists are invited to contribute to an appeal from the CfSS towards a target of £250,000 through the Campaign website: www.campaignforsocialscience.org.uk , where other information about events, sponsors and ideas can be found. 

Debates are being promoted on Facebook and Twitter (follow the links from www.campaignforsocialscience.org.uk) as well as on Social Science Space (www.socialsciencespace.com). 

The Campaign for Social Science Roadshow will take place at the University of Leicester on Thursday 19th May.   Places should be booked through Isobel Woodliffe, email ijw3@le.ac.uk, tel 0116 252 5914.

Notes to Editors: Some information follows.   Further details are available from Professor John Benyon, Professor of Political Studies, Institute of Lifelong Learning, University of Leicester, and Chair of the College of Learned Societies of the Academy of Social Sciences, email JohnBenyon@scarman.freeserve.co.uk, tel 0116 252 5914 (work) or 0116 2525914 (home).  

The Campaign for Social Science Board is headed by Professor Tony Crook AcSS, of Sheffield University, who has extensive experience of fundraising work through his work as Chair of the homelessness charity Shelter. Other members are: Professor Paul Wiles (ex Government Chief Social Scientist); Kate Barker AcSS (ex Monetary Policy Committee); Ceridwen Roberts AcSS (Academy Council); Robert Upton AcSS (Academy Council and Infrastructure Planning Commission); Professor Michael Harloe AcSS (Academy Council and former VC Salford University); Professor Ivor Gaber AcSS (Professor of Political Journalism); Judith Mudd (CEO British Sociological Association) and Helena Djurkovic (CEO of the Political Studies Association). 

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