Launch of IPR shares research that has power to change

Political economist Will Hutton has called for the University's new Institute for Policy Research to "reclaim the Enlightenment tradition that drove the Industrial Revolution."

Mr Hutton spoke at the end of yesterday's conference to launch the new Institute, which has been established to bring together many of the University's research strengths and will foster inter-disciplinary research of international excellence and impact

The conference attracted more than 200 internal and external guests who heard from a series of speakers including geologist and TV presenter Professor Iain Stewart.

A further 100 viewers watched the conference online via a live stream and many joined in a Twitter debate, enabling them to put questions to the speakers and quadrupling the IPR’s Twitter following throughout the day.

Will Hutton addresses the conference in the East Building foyer

Mr Hutton, who was delayed due to traffic and gave an impromptu speech in the foyer of the East Building, said that the country needs more evidence-based policy.

He said: "The principle behind the IPR is fantastic, ambitious and it's the right time to do it. What drove the Industrial Revolution were Enlightenment values and you are reclaiming the Enlightenment tradition with this Institute.”

The event was formally opened by the University Chancellor, Lord Tugendhat. He said in his introduction that politicians rely on university-based academics for ideas and that the country needs the intellectual rigour of research to balance the work of more partisan think tanks.

The conference then heard from Bath academics whose research has the power to make a real difference to policy.

Professor Paul Gregg from the Department of Social & Policy Sciences presented the first session, discussing the long term cost of youth unemployment and the vacuum in service provision.

Professor Anna Gilmore from the Department for Health then discussed the subversive methods used by the tobacco industry to undermine public health.

Session three was presented by Professor David Galbreath from the Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies, who talked about intervention and security in the Sahel.

The afternoon session begun with a video presentation of research at the University addressed to the challenges of climate change. This was followed by a Question Time-style panel chaired by Professor Iain Stewart from the University of Plymouth and presenter of several BBC TV series including How to Grow a Planet.

The panel included Dr Gareth Veal from the School of Management; Dr Tim Mays from the Department of Chemical Engineering; Cherry Beath, BANES councillor with responsibility for sustainability; Professor Baz Verplanken Head of the Department for Psychology and Professor Alison Walker from the Department of Physics.

The panel debated the key issues of climate change and what can be done to address these, taking questions from the audience.

The debate was followed by a presentation from Acting Director for the IPR Professor Graham Room who outlined the ambitions of the Institute. He spoke of the priorities to establish a reputation for rigours and evidence-based research and to project the University's research into the policy world.

If you missed the launch you can watch the sessions by visiting the IPR website here.

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