UCL Public Policy


Up Close & Policy

Up Close & Policy offers researchers the chance to hear from academics and policy professionals on their shared experience of academic–policy engagement and lessons learned for successful engagement.

Up Close & Policy

Beyond ministers and their advisers, policy decisions are informed and made by a wide group of people. This series looks at who they are, what they do and how the research community works with the world of public policy to inform decision making.

The Up Close & Policy Series features UCL researchers in open conversation with policy professionals drawn from a wide range of organisations. Come along for your chance to ask the experts about the opportunities and pitfalls in engaging with the world of public policy, find out the insights they have gained, and hear what they consider are the key lessons for successful engagement. These events will be held in a seminar style with a large portion of the hour dedicated to Q&A, so please come prepared to ask questions.

UCL Public Policy is committed to increasing the diversity and inclusivity of its activities. We encourage people from under-represented groups (BAME, LGBTQ+, a mature student, or disabled) to attend.  


'Left-behind' Places, Community Engagement & Third Sector Partnerships

Wednesday 24 November, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm


Professor John Tomaney (Bartlett School of Planning, UCL)
Dr Lucy Natarajan (Bartlett School of Planning, UCL)
Dr Florence Sutcliff-Braithwaite (UCL History)
Laura Seebohm (Executive director of External Affairs, Changing Lives)

In this session of Up Close & Policy we explore how and why researchers can engage with communities and third sector partners to inform policy at a local level. The panel will discuss their experience in working together on developing a 'deep-place' study of Sacriston, a village in County Durham, which has suffered from decades of deindustrialisation and waves of public policies which have had limited impact.

We welcome the three lead academics on the Sacriston project; Professor John Tomaney (Bartlett School of Planning, UCL), Dr Lucy Natarajan (Bartlett School of Planning, UCL) and Dr Florence Sutcliff-Braithwaite (History, UCL), as well as Laura Seebohm, Executive director of External Affairs for Changing Lives, to share their experience in engaging with local communities at the interface of academic research and public policy.

Developing Sustainable & Healthy Cities and Guiding London’s Recovery Programme through Local Authority Engagement

Wednesday 8 December, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm


Dr Liza Griffin (Development Planning Unit, UCL)
Dr Gemma Moore (Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources, UCL)
Oliver Jones (Head of Green Spaces, Camden London Borough Council)

This seminar will explore how researchers can engage with local authorities to co-develop impactful policies for cities. The panel will discuss the benefits of policy co-development, pathways to engagement and give insight into the inner working of local authorities.

We welcome Dr Liza Griffin, Dr Gemma Moore and Oliver Jones to share their experience in working together at the interface of policy and research. Gemma and Oliver are currently collaborating on a policy project to improve the borough’s access and development of green spaces. Liza’s research focuses on ‘wicked’ problems, good governance and public policy, with themes ranging from population heal, risk management to community resilience. Gemma has extensive experience at the academic-policy interface, both from her professional career and through her current research interests. Gemma’s research interests focus on policy evaluation and policy design for sustainability transition within urban systems.

Tackling Loneliness and Social Isolation: Academic Research Networks and Government Engagement 

Wednesday 12 January, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm 


Dr Alexandra Pitman (UCL Psychiatry)
Professor Sonia Johnson (UCL Psychiatry) 
Professor Pamela Qualter (University of Manchester, Institute of Education)
Ravneet Virdi, Head of Tackling loneliness (DCMS)

In this session of Up Close & Policy we explore how researchers and policy professionals can collaborate to tackle the isolation and mental health crisis facing the UK. 

We welcome the team members of the Loneliness and Social Isolation in Mental Health Network; Prof Sonia Johnson  and Dr Alexandra Pitman. They will be joined by Professor Pamela Qualter, Professor of Education at Manchester University, and Ravneet Virdi, Head of Tackling loneliness at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), to share their experience at the frontier of academia and policy. 

Top-down, Bottom-up & Informing Policy in two Countries

Wednesday 26 January, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm 


Prof Monica Lakhanpaul, UCL Institute of Child Health
Dr Priti Parikh, UCL Faculty of the Built Environment (The Bartlett)
Mr. Hemant Chatturvedi, UCL Department of Population, Policy & Practice
Dr Sandile Mbatha, Senior Manager: Research and Policy Advocacy at eThekwini Municipality

In this session of Up Close & Policy we explore how researchers can engage with policy professionals in low and middle-income countries at multiple levels such as grass-roots, local, regional and national.

We welcome Prof Monica Lakhanpaul, Professor of Integrated Community Child Health (UCL Institute of Child Health, Department of Population, Policy & Practice) and Dr Priti Parikh (Associate Professor, The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction) to share on their experience in working with policymakers in an international context. They will discuss experiences of influencing policy through community engagement in India with Mr. Hemant Chaturvedi and regional/national level cross sectoral partnerships with government officials in South Africa with Dr. Sandile Mbatha.

Health Inequalities in the UK

Wednesday 27 April, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm 


Siobhan Morris, Head of Programmes for the Grand Challenges of Cultural Understanding and Justice & Equality, UCL
David Finch, Assistant Director, The Health Foundation.
Jordan Cummins, Health Director for the Confederation of British Industry
Faiza Amin, Policy Advisor, Start for Life Unit, Official for Health Improvement and Disparities, DHSC

In this session of Up Close & Policy, we explore how academic evidence is used by government and third sector policy practitioners working on tackling Health Inequalities in the UK.

We will follow up on the aftermath of publishing the "Structurally Unsound - Exploring Inequalities: Igniting research to better inform UK policy", co-authored by UCL’s Grand Challenge of Justice & Equality, UCL Public Policy, and the Resolution Foundation.

What can we learn from academic-policy engagement in health inequalities? What are the barriers faced by academics, third sector and government professionals in engaging with each other? What does that engagement look like? 

Up Close and Policy: Building Local Partnerships to Tackle Climate Change

Wednesday 25 May, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm 


Dr Lucy Hubble-Rose, Deputy Director of the UCL Climate Action Unit, UCL
Dr Isabela Butnar, Senior Research Associate, BSEER, the Bartlett, UCL
Grace Abel, Programme Manager - Climate Change, Local Government Association
Emily Bolton, Climate Change Officer, Cambridgeshire County Council

Across the UK, local authorities are declaring a climate emergency, seeking to lead action at a local level to reduce carbon emissions, increase biodiversity, transition to net zero and ultimately improve the quality of life of their residents and the local environment.

In this session of Up Close & Policy, we explore how local authorities can partner with researchers to develop innovative solutions to answer climate challenges at the local level. 

We will zoom in on the Net Zero Innovation Programme, a UCL - LGA (Local Government Association) initiative that brings together local policymakers and researchers to build the capacity and capability to deliver solutions tailored to the needs of local climate challenges. Why should councils and researchers team-up to address local climate challenges? What are the barriers faced by academics and local authorities when engaging with each other? What does that engagement look like? Join us to find out.

 > Register on Eventbrite here