Published: 29 January 2016

Surrey to host new UK centre for public policy research

A £3 million national research centre that will develop better ways to measure the effectiveness and impact of energy, water, environment and food policies is to open at the University of Surrey.

Work at the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN) will include developing new ways of evaluating the impact of policies in complex settings, with the aim of contributing to more effective policy making.

Nigel Gilbert, Professor of Sociology and Director of CECAN, said: “We are very pleased to have won this project, which is highly prestigious and is expected to have a substantial impact on how public policies are formulated, monitored and evaluated. The Centre brings together an outstanding team from universities in the UK, Europe and the United States, as well as business consultancies and institutes that provide evaluation services to government.”

CECAN is backed by £2.45 million of funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council, in collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Environment Agency and the Food Standards Agency.

Andy Gibbs, Head of Economic Performance and Environment at the ESRC, said: “We’re delighted with the opening of CECAN which, with the use of innovative evaluation methodologies, will show how public policies can be designed to keep up with dynamic issues that cross boundaries and sectors.

“Policy planning and evaluation are especially challenging when social and environmental problems are intertwined. For example, designing and evaluating a policy to increase agricultural output without using more land, water, and chemicals, and without causing loss of biodiversity needs close liaison with farmers, experts, businesses and citizens - and the policy needs to be both flexible and robust across these areas.

“Complex problems require new solutions with special kinds of methods and approaches to study them – this is exactly what this centre will provide.”

The Centre will open on 1 March 2016.

Learn more about Surrey’s Sociology programmes and the Department of Sociology.

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