ESRC Names 2020 Finalists for Celebrating Impact Prize

Britain’s Economic and Social Research Council has named nine professors and two teams of researchers as finalists in its Celebrating Impact Prize 2020. Now in its eighth year, the prize celebrates the success of ESRC-funded researchers in achieving and enabling outstanding economic or societal impact from excellent research. The ESRC is the UK’s largest funder of research on the social and economic questions.

The work being recognized ranges from strengthening evidence used in crafting public policy, designing prisons to improve outcomes for female offenders, and insuring poor farmers in Uganda. All finalists receive £10,000 to spend on further knowledge exchange, public engagement or other communications activities and will have a film made about their work and its impact.

ESRC Celebrating Impact logo

“This is an excellent opportunity,” said professor Jennifer Rubin, the ESRC’s executive chair, “for the UK’s world-leading economists and social scientists to be recognized for how their work improves lives for a wide range of people both in the UK and in other countries, from how children are taught to read, to innovative tools helping insure Ugandan farmers, or how victims of gender-based violence can experience justice.”

The finalists and their focus of study are: 

Professor Emla Fitzsimons and Dr Praveetha Patalay (University College London) |Adolescent mental health: improving young people’s lives using evidence from national cohort data

Professor Marianne Hester (University of Bristol) |Justice, inequality and gender-based violence

Professor Yvonne Jewkes (University of Bath) | Humanity, Hope, Rehabilitation: Changing thinking about women offenders through prison design

Professor Richard Layard (London School of Economic) | Public policies for employment, skills, wellbeing and mental health. Layard has also been a guest on Social Science Bites, where he addressed happiness economics.

Dr Anna Remington (UCL Institute of Education) | Enhancing the employment of autistic individuals

Professor Alice Sullivan (UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies) | Reading for pleasure boosts cognitive development: research findings that underpin educational practice and literacy campaigns

Professor Arjan Verschoor and Professor Ben D’Exelle (University of East Anglia) | Insuring previously uninsurable poor farmers in Uganda

Two team applications were also finalists:

Ending the Reading Wars | Professor Kathy Rastle, Royal Holloway University of London; Professor Kate Nation, University of Oxford; Professor Anne Castles, Macquarie University on Bringing the Science of Reading to Reading Instruction in Classrooms around the World

Improving Data | Professor Jane Falkingham, Professor Maria Evandrou, Professor Ann Berrington, Professor Jakub Bijak, Professor Corrado Giulietti, Professor Peter W F Smith, Professor Athina Vlachantoni, Professor Jackline Wahba, Teresa McGowan, Becki Dey, all ESRC Centre for Population Change, University of Southampton, onImproving data: Strengthening the evidence base for policy”

Entrants’ applications were reviewed by a panel of academics, engagement and knowledge exchange experts, and research users. The panel consisted of Grant Hill-Cawthorne, head of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology; Irene Hardill, professor of public policy, Northumbria University; professor Alison Park, director of Research, ESRC; Sufina Ahmad, director of the John Ellerman Foundation; and John Young, executive director of INASP

Shortlisted applicants were invited to an interview, along with non-academic supporters who helped describe the impact of the work. All finalists have been invited to a virtual awards ceremony on November 12 when the winners will be announced. To register for that virtual event, click here.

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Russell John Foote

I think that the most significant metric for evaluating the impact of the Social Sciences is the extent to which quantitative and qualitative social sciences are resolving problems in communities and the wider society in a manner that gives governments less work to do. This is critical because despite increases in government spending in developed and developing countries, social and economic issues continue to escalate such as crime poverty, unemployment, inflation, environmental issues.This will require much collaboration between university academics and community groups or other organizations to investigate issues affecting them, develop prime solving proposals, implement same and monitor progress… Read more »

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