In 2012, a group of 12 social scientists at Edinburgh University began meeting to discuss their research on different aspects of the relationship between knowledge and policy. The initial core conversations were between those who contributed to the policy literature (in Politics & International Relations and in Social Policy) and those who wrote on science in society (from Science, Technology and Innovation Studies). We were keen to benefit from insights from across the social and political sciences and to challenge simplistic ideas about impact, evidence-based research or knowledge exchange. We shared a commitment to theoretically informed, sociological and ethnographic approaches to exploring processes of knowledge production, translation and use. We were also committed to ensuring these ideas did not remain academic abstractions, but could be practically applied to help those involved in policy-making and implementation reflect on and improve the ways they make use of research.
In early 2014, the Centre for Science, Knowledge and Policy (SKAPE) was established to consolidate and extend this agenda. At SKAPE, we conduct innovative and critical research on the relationship between knowledge and policy. We also provide a platform for teaching and training, and promote engagement with policy actors.
We are an outward-looking centre, keen to engage with researchers and practitioners from across sectors, and across the world. Please contact us (by email or through this website) if you’d like to know more about our work or to get involved with SKAPE activities.
The burgeoning interest in the role of science, knowledge and expertise in governance has created a need for critical reflection on how knowledge for policy is produced, applied and legitimised in policy-making, and how such processes in turn shape political discourse and practice.
To investigate these questions, SKAPE harnesses expertise from political science, sociology, social policy, science and technology studies, law and public management, as well as the wider arts and humanities and natural sciences.
To these ends, our objectives are to:
- Support and expand collaborative research at the University of Edinburgh and beyond about the relationship between science, knowledge and policy;
- Raise the profile of current research undertaken by colleagues at the University of Edinburgh on these issues theoretically, conceptually and empirically;
- Provide leadership and training in the emerging field of science, knowledge and policy studies at UK and international levels; and,
- Support and complement the work undertaken by other colleagues at the School of Social and Political Science, and the wider University, through research and advice on knowledge exchange.