Achieving policy impact is increasingly important in research agendas, and humanities disciplines can make a significant contribution to policy development. For example:
- Concepts developed in philosophy or theology can facilitate analysis of social issues (such as notions of justice or well-being, the influence of diaspora communities or the use of language), with implications for public policy.
- Historical research can highlight the changing nature of rules, behaviour and belief – illustrating that current policy is constructed from an understanding of the past that is fluid and open to multiple perspectives, influences and interpretations.
- Literature, art and other disciplines can provide compelling narratives, stories and case-studies to illustrate social and economic problems, increase understanding of the issues, and help build a case for change.
- Working with other disciplines to shape research questions. Humanities can be particularly powerful in collaboration with other disciplines, for instance from social or medical science, bringing new perspectives and understanding to research findings, and supporting a range of different outputs and outcomes that engage users.
What is policy?
Policy is usually defined as a set of rules or norms governing behaviour or practice in a particular area, established by an organisation with the authority to set these rules. Policy is set at international, national and local level, and by organisations and institutions for areas over which they have jurisdiction.
Who makes policy?
Examples of policy makers include international bodies such as the United Nations, European Commission and European Parliament; national bodies, such as the UK Parliament and the civil servants and departments that support them; and other national and local bodies such as professional bodies, cultural and heritage organisations, and regional and local councils.
What does it involve?
Public policy engagement covers a spectrum from sharing new insights generated by collaborative research, conferences and seminars or undertaking commissioned research, to participating in public policy debates or direct briefing or lobbying of policy makers.
More information is available in the Policy and Humanities Engagement brochure, available here (PDF):