Political economist Will Hutton and Iain Stewart, geologist and TV presenter, will be on the platform at the 14 May launch conference of the University's new Institute for Policy Research, themed Policy and Power: Re-thinking the Role of Policy Research.

Mr Hutton will speak on the role of research in policy. Professor Stewart will chair a Question Time–style panel on climate change, a major focus for the new Institute.

Formerly the editor-in-chief of The Observer and Chief Executive of the Work Foundation, Will Hutton has been involved in a wide range of public reports on social and economic policy. He chaired the Public Sector Fair Pay Review whose report recommendations the Government has agreed to implement. He is Principal of Hertford College, Oxford.

His book The State We’re In, helped set the scene for the Blair revolution and his latest work Them and Us: Changing Britain – Why we need a fair society, has influenced Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Iain Stewart is Professor of Geosciences Communication at the University of Plymouth. He has presented several BBC TV series, including Earth - The Climate Wars; How to Grow A Planet; and, most recently, the Horizon special The Truth About Meteors. He is a Member of the Scientific Board of UNESCO’s International Geological Programme (IGCP).

Other speakers will include three of the Bath academics involved in the development of the new Institute. Paul Gregg, Professor of Economic & Social Policy, will address problems of youth unemployment. Professor Anna Gilmore, Director of the Tobacco Control Research Group, will warn of the dangers to public health from the tobacco industry. Dr David Galbreath will examine the complex nature of the development and security challenges of the Sahel region of Saharan Africa.

Professor Graham Room, the Acting Director, will outline plans for the Institute’s future development.

Professor Room said: "The new Institute brings together many of the University's research strengths. It will provide a platform from which this research can exert a greater influence on public policies – locally, nationally and internationally. The launch conference begins a debate with the academic community and the public at large, around the policy challenges which the Institute will need to address. We are delighted to welcome Will Hutton and Iain Stewart to help us launch this new venture."