Local science, local people

November 10, 2011

"Democratic experiments" (3 November) raises some interesting points. However, I think Jon Turney may be mistaken in thinking that "democratic" means that everyone cares about "the science bit". Perhaps they just want nice hair from L'Oreal?

If Turney wants "any takers" for further engagement with science, I suggest a different tack. Hardly anyone elected to govern at the national or local level in this country has done scientific research. Therefore, it makes a huge difference if scientists seek to collaborate with elected policymakers.

It has been a privilege to attend two all-party parliamentary groups and I can assure Times Higher Education readers that the peers and MPs involved with their chosen interests really do want to know about "the science bit". At the local authority level, Essex County Council has taken the bold step of creating a research network to engage local scientists in helping to address thorny issues such as climate change and resilience, youth crime and parenting, and population growth and housing.

The new localism agenda in England means that embryonic collaborations such as health and well-being boards will cry out for scientific advice close to home. Who will answer?

Woody Caan, Anglia Ruskin University

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