Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences


Transformative thinking for a disrupted world: launching the UCL Policy Lab

18 May 2022

Launching next week, the new UCL Policy Lab aims to transform thinking by creating a space for collaboration and innovation.

Photo of Chrisann Jarrett, a Policy Lab Advisory Council Member

Register to attend the UCL Policy Lab launch

The UCL Policy Lab aims to transform debates on key policy issues through radical innovation and deep collaboration, and is a space for new ideas, methods, and ways of doing.

As a joint initiative from the Departments of Political Science and Economics, the Lab brings together researchers from across UCL with community campaigners, politicians, public servants, philanthropists and business people in the knowledge that none of today’s problems respect the traditional boundaries of research or policy. 

Launching on Monday 30 May, the Lab comes at a time when Britain and the wider world face a growing list of social, economic and political challenges; with intense financial difficulties at home and abroad, war in Europe, deepening inequalities, unprecedented social upheaval and democratic tension, the Lab is a recognition of the growing appetite for transformative thinking in the face of a disrupted world. 

Professor Marc Stears, the Lab’s inaugural Director,  said: "The world faces immense challenges and so many people are asking: How can we rise to them? We know that politics as usual can’t. The UCL Policy Lab aims to help generate the truly transformative ideas that we need.”

Photo of Dr Michael Spence, President & Provost of UCL
UCL’s Provost & President, Dr Michael Spence, recently set out an ambitious agenda for the Lab, highlighting the vital convening role the Lab will play. 

Dr Spence said: “The Policy Lab is key to UCL’s policy mission, and will be a vital place where policymakers, researchers and communities can come together. The Lab will enable greater collaboration across UCL, but it will also be a portal for external engagement on policy issues.” 

Dr Spence added: “I think this interdisciplinarity is key to understanding some of the challenges the UCL Policy Lab will be seeking to tackle. For example, climate change and inequality do not respect academic disciplines. Today’s problems never will. It’s why the Lab will be vital as a convener and collaboration space, bringing together those ideas from across UCL.” 

Ms Chrisann Jarrett, a Policy Lab Advisory Council Member and CEO of We Belong, an inspiring migrant youth-led organisation working to improve real life opportunities for young people, spoke of the growing need to enable researchers to engage with communities and policy debates.

Ms Jarrett said: “We are dealing with complex social issues requiring us to explore different ways of working, it is also important that we engage with those who think differently from us if we truly want to reimagine society and its structures through an inclusive lens”.

Joining other Advisory Council members - including Dame Julia Unwin, Hetan Shah, Sonia Sodha, Henry Curr and Sir Trevor Chinn - Chrisann will be working with the Policy Lab team and UCL to help fulfil the Lab’s ambitious new agenda. 

Professor Jennifer Hudson, Deputy Dean of UCL Social & Historical Sciences and Steering Committee member for the Policy Lab, said: “The opportunity for researchers is huge. My research has been transformed by working with external organisations, particularly those with lived experience. 

“Too often, we don’t engage with the lived experience of citizens and the community. The lab offers us a unique opportunity to transform our work and make lasting change.” 

With the launch on 30 May, the Lab is reaching out to colleagues across UCL, as well as external partners, to invite them to make change. 

“Our launch event is an opportunity to come together, meet new colleagues and discuss the pressing issues the Lab will aim to tackle. We hope people from all different backgrounds will join us for this special occasion,” Professor Hudson added. 

To find out more about the Lab and its work you now sign up for its newsletter here. As well as register to attend their launch event on 30 May.