Why Should the Taxpayer Fund Science and Research?

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Download the report or watch the lecture online.

Science Policy Podcasts

UCL Public Policy events

Academic-Policy Conversation engagement series

On 20th January 2015 UCL Public Policy launches its new 'Academic-Policy conversation' engagement series for early career researchers. The series will provide an understanding of academic and policy approaches to working together across different departments. 

Open to UCL staff/ECRs only. If you are interested in attending a lunchtime session, please contact Olivia Stevenson

The series speakers (further speakers and dates to be announced):

  • Angela Sasse (UCL Computer Science), Marek Rejman-Green (Home Office) and chaired by Jason Dittmer (UCL Geography), 20th January 2015
  • Afzal Siddiqui (UCL Statistical Science), James Davey (Department of Energy and Climate Change) and chaired by Andrew Smith (UCL Energy Institute), 28th January 2015
  • Brian Collins (UCL Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy) and Ian Taylor (Chairman, Lunar Missions Ltd and former Conservative Science Minister), 16th February 2015
  • Peter Sammonds (UCL Earth Sciences) and Michael Edbury (Go-Science), 4th March 2015. 
  • Alan Wilson (UCL CASA), Eleri Jones (Go-Science) and chaired by Graeme Reid (UCL OVPR), 18th March 2015. 

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Harnessing Digital Technology for Health Behaviour Change

UCL Centre for Behaviour Change Digital Conference

 23-24 February 2015

Registration now open



Venture research and other adventures: are we getting the most out of UK research?

6pm, 14 January 2015, Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre, Roberts Building, UCL

The panel discussion explored how creativity and innovation in research can best be supported, with perspectives from academics, venture researchers, and research funders.

Chaired by Professor Graeme Reid, Professor of Science and Research Policy, UCL


  • Don Braben, Honorary Professor, UCL Earth Sciences and Office of the Vice-Provost (Research)
  • Anne-Marie Coriat,  Director, Capacity, Skills and Infrastructure, Medical Research Council
  • Kevin Baughan, Director of Technology and Innovation, Innovate UK
  • Ian Foulkes, Executive Director, Strategy and Research Funding, Cancer Research UK
  • Nick Lane, Reader in Evolutionary Biochemistry, UCL Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment
  • Ken Seddon, Chair of Inorganic Chemistry, Queen's University Belfast

NASA lecture: Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan and Chief Technologist David Miller

2pm, 12 November, Cruciform Lecture Theatre 1, UCL

Dr Ellen Stofan (NASA Chief Scientist) and Dr David Miller (NASA Chief Technologist) discussing the future of human space exploration.

Chaired by Dr Lucie Green, UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory.

  • More details here, including video and blog of the event.

Ellen Stofan and John Butterworth

UCL also co-sponsored the CASE annual lecture at which Dr Stofan delivered the keynote speech.


The Culture of Scientific Research: 

A discussion event with the Nuffield Council of Bioethics

Friday 20 June 2014 

As part of their project on cultures of research, the Nuffield Council is holding a number of discussion events in collaboration with universities to foster constructive debate among all those involved in scientific research about the culture of research in the UK.

These events will debate how the different features of the UK research environment are affecting, both positively and negatively, the work and behaviour of scientists at all stages of their careers. We will be considering questions such as: 

  • What motivates scientists and what pressures are they under?
  • What effects are funding and publishing systems having on the production of high quality, ethical scientific research?
  • Are current methods for assessing the quality of science working?
  • Is competition in science a good thing?


  • Jonathan Montgomery, Professor of Health Care Law, UCL; Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics; and Chair of the Health Research Authority (Chair)
  • Geraint Rees, Professor of Cognitive Neurology, Institute of Neurology, UCL
  • Philip Campbell, Editor, Nature
  • Giovanna Tinetti, Professor of Astrophysics, UCL

Free and open to all. Register here.


  • 12.00-12.30 Sandwich lunch (Darwin Building, Rooms B05 and B15, UCL)
  • 12.30-2.00 Discussion event (Medical Sciences and Anatomy Building, Room 131 A V Hill LT, UCL)

Access to both venues via Malet Place, off Torrington Place, London WC1E 7JE

The discussions will be written up along with the other activities of the project and presented to policymakers towards the end of 2014. 


Time for Change? Climate Science Reconsidered: The report of the UCL Policy Commission on the Communication of Climate Science

6.30pm 24 June 2014

Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre, UCL

Climate scientists have crucial roles to play in the public discourse on climate science and in working with others to determine the most appropriate societal responses. There is a need for the climate science community to re-evaluate its role and enhance its capabilities to respond to the needs of the modern world. 

The report of the UCL Policy Commission on the Communication of Climate Science argues that a fundamental rethink of the values and practices of climate science is required in order for the climate science community to engage fully with the demands of societal discourse. It makes a number of recommendations to improve communication, training and leadership for the climate science community.

Registration from 6.15

Followed by a drinks reception in the Roberts Foyer


Why Should the Taxpayer Fund Science and Research?

20 May 2014

The inaugural lecture of Professor Graeme Reid, Chair of Science and Research Policy, UCL Office of the Vice-Provost (Research). 

Graeme Reid considered the issue of public funding for research, drawing from his previous role as Director of Research Funding in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. In an age of austerity, with continued pressure on public finances, how should decisions on research funding be made, and how are they influenced by growing expectations of the economic benefits arising from research and intensifying international competition?

Chaired by Dr Sarah Main, CASE


Dr Jack Stilgoe, UCL Science and Technology Studies

Malcolm Skingle, Director, Academic Liaison, Glaxo Smith Kline

Professor Evelyn Welch,  Vice-Principal (Arts & Sciences), King's College London


Big Data and Education: What's the Big Idea?

13 May 2014

Run as part of the TECY (Technology, Education, Culture and Youth) policy events series organised by the European Commission and Digital Europe, and organised by the UCL Big Data Institute in partnership with Reed Elsevier.

See materials from the conference, including presentations and cartoon depictions of the discussions, here


New Opportunities for Science Capital: A Talk by David Willetts

1 May, 2014

The Minister addressed the long-term future of capital funding for research. He considered what the priorities for capital funding should be, how funding decisions can best be made, and how to secure the sustainability of the research base in the UK. 

The event was chaired by Professor Graeme Reid, Chair in Science and Research Policy at UCL.


Greening the Recovery: Launch of the report of the UCL Green Economy Commission

Chaired by Gus O'Donnell, Visiting Professor, UCL Political Science and former Head of the Civil Service


Professor Paul Ekins, Chair of the UCL Green Economy Commission and Professor of Resources and Environmental Policy

Steven Fries, Chief Economist, Department of Energy and Climate Change

Martin Wolf, Financial Times


The Complexity of Decision-Making

6pm, 21 January 2014Keynote address: Noreena Hertz, author of Eyes Wide OpenProfessor Wendy Carlin (UCL Economics)Dr Claire Craig (Government Office for Science) Professor Susan Michie (UCL Centre for Behaviour Change) 

6pm, 21 January 2014

Keynote address: Noreena Hertz, author of Eyes Wide Open

Professor Wendy Carlin (UCL Economics)

Dr Claire Craig (Government Office for Science) 

Professor Susan Michie (UCL Centre for Behaviour Change) 

Measures Beyond Money: 

Long Finance conference autumn 2012


Steven Fries, Department of Energy and Climate Change
Balazs Magyar, Bank Sarasin
Professor Stephen Smith, UCL
Professor Paul Ekins, UCL Energy Institute
Fiona Woolf CBE, Alderman, City of London
Professor Michael Mainelli, Z/Yen Group

2pm, 14 November 2012


What can Governments do to improve national education systems?

Keynote speaker: Charles Clarke

6pm, 28 November 2012, Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre, UCL


The Science of Happiness

6pm, 29 May 2012

Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre, Roberts Building, UCL, Torrington Place, London WC1E 7JE


Dr Tali Sharot (UCL Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences)

Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve (UCL School of Public Policy)

Dr Stephen Hicks, Assistant Programme Director - Measuring National Well-being, ONS

Dr Gemma Harper, Chief Social Researcher, DEFRA

The event was chaired by Professor Brian Collins (UCL Centre for Engineering Policy) and Professor Peter John (UCL Political Science)


The Green Moment? The Crises of Capitalism and the Response of Progressive Politics

Michael Jacobs (Visiting Professor, UCL School of Public Policy)

Discussants:  Andrew Simm (new economics foundation) and Professor Wyn Grant(Professor of Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick)

The event was chaired by Professor Paul Ekins (UCL Energy Institute)


Jack Straw Lecture

On the theme of 'Britain and Europe'

Speakers: Professor Jack Straw MP; Sir Sir Stephen Wall (UCL Council)

 (UCL Council)

The event was chaired by Professor Robert Hazell (UCL Constitution Unit).

Read the lecture or a summary of the event, or the abridged commentary published in The Daily Telegraph.

More details


Going Low-Carbon: The governance of climate change technologies

UCL Public Policy and UCL Centre for Law and the Environment

The Centre for Law and the Environment and UCL Public Policy held an event exploring the governance of the technologies in moving to a low carbon economy. Chiara Armeni and Maria Lee from the Faculty of Laws spoke at the event, chaired by Yvonne Rydin (UCL Bartlett and Environment Institute), along with UCL colleagues Simon Lock (Science and Technology Studies) and Tadj Oreszczyn (Energy Institute).

Technological innovation is expected to play a significant role in moving to a low carbon economy. Alongside the technological and scientific challenges, this presents considerable challenges of governance. The speakers and audience explored the complex governance challenges associated with capturing the carbon savings potential of technological innovation, as well as the ways in which publics might engage with climate change technologies. Any technology is embedded in its social context, and the public in their diverse roles (as citizens, consumers, members of communities) play unavoidable and important roles in the adoption, proliferation and impact of climate change technologies.


EU Transparency and Lobbying

Keynote speaker: Diana Wallis MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament

November 2011

Organised in conjunction with the UCL European Institute and the European Parliament Information Office in the UK.

Questions of transparency in the EU - including those about the accountability of EU institutions, the influence of lobbyists, and the code of conduct within European institutionsare increasingly important as issues of democracy and accountability in the EU are fiercely debated and the Union faces some of its toughest challenges as a result of the global financial crisis. What can be done to increase transparency and thus confidence in the institutions of the European Union?

Speakers: Diana Wallis MEP; Michael Shackleton (Head of UK European Parliament Information Office).

The event was chaired by Professor David Coen (UCL Political Science).


Challenging Behaviours: Effective Care for People with Intellectual Disabilities

October 2011

How can policies for the effective and high-quality care of people with intellectual disabilities best be developed? Recent research from UCL suggests that an established and cost-neutral intervention can reduce challenging behaviours and deliver real improvements through specialist services.

Speakers: Dr Angela Hassiotis (UCL Mental Health Sciences Unit); Vivien Cooper (The Challenging Behaviour Foundation); Sue Carmichael, (former National Lead for Health and People with Complex Needs, Department of Health).

Chaired by Dr Ian Hall (Chair of the Faculty of the Psychiatry of Learning Disabilities, Royal College of Psychiatrists)

A policy briefing on the UCL research is available here.


Framing the Climate Change Debate

May 2011

How can the debate on climate change be framed in a way that will encourage rationale dialogue and effective response?

Speakers: Professor Mark Maslin (UCL Geography); Professor Nick Pidgeon (University of Cardiff); Professor Chris Rapley (UCL Earth Sciences); Matthew Lockwood (Institute of Development Studies); Professor Maria Lee (UCL Laws); Dr Slava Mikhaylov (UCL Political Science); Professor Yvonne Rydin (UCL Environment Institute). Chaired by Andrew Pendleton, IPPR.

UCL Public Policy and UCL Environment Institute in cooperation with the IPPR

Read a report of the event here.


The Future of Healthcare in Europe

May 2011

Keynote speakers: Professor Sir Michael Marmot (Chair of WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health) and Michael Hübel (Head of Health Determinants Unit,  European Commission) 

This high-level one-day conference was convened by the UCL European Institute and UCL Grand Challenges in cooperation with the Finnish Institute in London.

See further material from the conference here.


Is the Alternative Vote worth voting for?

April 2011

A UCL debate on the AV referendum with Billy Bragg, Katie Ghose, Jane Kennedy and Charlotte Vere.

See the video of the debate here.  Read the Constitution Unit's blog of the event here and see the Guardian politics blog hereRobert Hazell on why he believes the referendum will be lost here.


Evidence-Based Policy: From development to delivery

April 2011

Professor Kent Weaver, Georgetown University


UCL Lunch Hour Lecture: Philosophy and public policy

Professor Jonathan Wolff (UCL Philosophy), 23 November 2010

Can moral and political philosophy be used to help solve problems in public life? How? Some philosophers attempt to derive theories to be applied in practice. This, it will be argued, is not a practical or desirable approach. Rather the philosopher should be to try to understand the values underlying dilemmas of public policy and to explore options for reducing or resolving them. Public policy needs the application of philosophical skills, rather than philosophical theory.


UCL Lunch Hour Lecture: Doomed to Fail? The Challenges of Coalition government for Westminster and Whitehall

Professor Robert Hazell (UCL Constitution Unit), 4 November 2010

Disraeli said 'England does not love coalitions'. The 2010 election led to the formation of the first coalition government at Westminster for over 60 years. Is it doomed to fail? In this lecture Prof Robert Hazell will talk about how the new coalition government operates, and its plans for much wider political and constitutional reform. He was closely involved in helping Whitehall and Westminster prepare for a hung parliament, and now in dealing with the reality.

Page last modified on 01 feb 15 00:09