"Walking a Tightrope:
Relevance, Responsiveness, Rigour and Responsibility
in Policy-Related Research on Religion or Belie...
Research, Engagement and Public Policy
“For policy to be effective, it needs to be grounded in the experiences
and worldvi...
Research, Engagement and Public Policy
National Audit Office (2003)
Getting the Evidence: Using Research in Policy-Making
...
The Study of Religion, Relevance and Policy-Related Research
Relevance, irrelevance and religion-related policy research:
...
More Policy-Related Research
and the Study of Religion
 Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2005-2006)
Review of the Evi...
Policy-Related Research and the Study of Religion:
Some Broad Considerations
 why Theology/Religious Studies
and not (onl...
Policy-Related Research and the Study of Religion:
Academic Experience and Some Specific Issues
 Working to others’ agend...
Policy-Related Research and the Study of Religion:
Academic Experience and Some Specific Issues
 Two-way translation
- ev...
Policy-Related Research and the Study of Religion:
Academic Experience and Some Specific Issues
 Dealing with the media
-...
Policy-Related Research and the Study of Religion:
Some Concluding Reflections
 good to do research that (can) make a dif...
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Relevance, responsiveness, rigour and responsibility in policy related research on religion or belief

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AHRC Workshop, 12 July 2013, University of Birmingham

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Relevance, responsiveness, rigour and responsibility in policy related research on religion or belief

  1. 1. "Walking a Tightrope: Relevance, Responsiveness, Rigour and Responsibility in Policy-Related Research on Religion or Belief" Arts and Humanities Research Council Workshop on Knowledge Exchange and Arts and Humanities: Challenges and Opportunities for Engaging with Public Policy at The University of Birmingham, Nuffield Building, Birmingham 12th July 2013 Paul Weller Professor of Inter-Religious Relations and Head of Research and Commercial Development, Faculty of Education, Health and Sciences University of Derby © Not for reproduction without permission of the author
  2. 2. Research, Engagement and Public Policy “For policy to be effective, it needs to be grounded in the experiences and worldview of those most likely to be affected.” P. Weller, A. Feldman and K. Purdam (2001), Religious Discrimination in England and Wales, Home Office Research Report 221. London: Research Development Statistics Directorate, the Home Office. Academic research brings to bear:  expertise rooted in long and deep development of knowledge capital  critical reflexivity that goes beyond the immediate task
  3. 3. Research, Engagement and Public Policy National Audit Office (2003) Getting the Evidence: Using Research in Policy-Making  gulf between UK academics and policy-makers  academics have a poor understanding of policy questions  the results of research are not easily accessible  the results of research lack short-term relevance  academics are poor communicators  dissemination is grossly undervalued in academia Higher Education Academy Centre for Religious and Philosophical Studies The Relationship Between (the Study and Research of) Theology/Religious Studies and Policy Development [not published]  relative neophytes in methodological issues/challenges of this kind of research
  4. 4. The Study of Religion, Relevance and Policy-Related Research Relevance, irrelevance and religion-related policy research: “From a pub in Prague, CSSR to Research and Public Policy Case Studies”  Home Office (1999-2001) Religious Discrimination in England and Wales Research Project http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20070507055347/http://communities.gov.uk/pub/945/Reli giousdiscriminationinEnglandandWales_id1504945.pdf  Equality and Human Rights Commission (2010-2011) Religious Discrimination in England in Wales: Review of the Evidence, 2000- 2010 http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/uploaded_files/research/research_report_73_religious_discrim ination.pdf  Arts and Humanities Research Council and Economic and Social Research Council [Religion and Society Programme] (2010-2013) Religion and Belief, Discrimination and Equality in England and Wales (2000- 2010): Theory, Policy and Practice http://www.derby.ac.uk/religion-and-society
  5. 5. More Policy-Related Research and the Study of Religion  Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (2005-2006) Review of the Evidence Base on Faith Communities http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120919132719/http://www.communities.gov.uk/document s/corporate/pdf/143816.pdf  Equality Challenge Unit (2010-11) Religion and Belief in Higher Education: Researching the Experiences of Staff and Students in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland http://www.ecu.ac.uk/publications/files/religion-and-belief-staff-and-students-in-he-report.pdf/
  6. 6. Policy-Related Research and the Study of Religion: Some Broad Considerations  why Theology/Religious Studies and not (only) Sociology (of Religion)?  “standing on the shoulders of others” and the enduring value of textual and philological research  historical studies and policy-related research: the missing dimension  positionality, objectivity and “engaged scholarship”: “to hide or not to hide”  taking risks and being responsible: “walking the tightrope”
  7. 7. Policy-Related Research and the Study of Religion: Academic Experience and Some Specific Issues  Working to others’ agendas, academic rigour and integrity - “who pays the piper calls the tune” and other stakeholders - “give us the evidence” (we want for what we are going to do?) - academic freedom, responsibility and pre-set Terms of Reference - research findings as commercial/government property - from contractual frameworks to the Official Secrets Act
  8. 8. Policy-Related Research and the Study of Religion: Academic Experience and Some Specific Issues  Two-way translation - evidence based policy-making, reporting and recommending - “give us the facts and figures!” (what counts as evidence) - complexity, clarity, simplicity and simplification - dissemination perspectives and impact perspectives - knowledge exchange and the research process
  9. 9. Policy-Related Research and the Study of Religion: Academic Experience and Some Specific Issues  Dealing with the media - working in the public eye - on becoming “fair game” and developing a “thick(er) skin” - researcher, commissioner and media messages - the fickleness and capriciousness of the media - “sound bites” and the importance of media training - research findings as (often misunderstood) public property
  10. 10. Policy-Related Research and the Study of Religion: Some Concluding Reflections  good to do research that (can) make a difference  important to be able to live with ethical ambiguities  need to be ready to make provisional judgements in public  learn how to relate a contractual “end” to an ethical “telos”  “engaged research” can be rewarding for oneself and others when: - methodologically self and context aware - accepts ethical responsibility for the process and effects of research - and is therefore “scholarly” in the full sense of the word
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