Bristol academics lead project to engage communities in decision-making
A RESEARCH programme that aims to develop new ways of engaging communities in decision making with businesses and policy makers will begin thanks to £2.4 million Government funding announced today.
The money, which is being provided by the Economic and Social Research Council [ESRC], will allow the Bristol University led project to get under way in April.
It aims to re-shape the way in which decision making is made by connecting communities in Bristol and South Wales with researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Cardiff to co-produce new forms of engagement across politics, policy and the arts.
The programme will seek to understand how neighbourhoods can become bridges to engagement with regulators, policy-makers and businesses, and identify new forms of consultation.
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The team will be experimenting with websites and social media to create online opportunities for communities to access expertise and develop new skills to engage in policy-making and politics.
Dr Morag McDermont, who is leading the research from the University of Bristol Law School, said: "A radical re-design of community engagement is needed to help neighbourhoods find new and more effective ways to be involved in the political and social issues that affect them.
"Our collaboration with communities and academics in south west England and south Wales will enable us to contrast the different ways that community engagement is enabled and controlled in two nations of the devolved UK. These insights will allow us, together, to create new experiments in community engagement."
Sue Cohen, CEO of Single Parent Action Network (SPAN) and member of the programme's management team, said: "This is a groundbreaking project bringing together grassroots groups and researchers to co-produce participation in decision making across politics, policy and the arts.
"Regulation can stifle creativity and voices, particularly in communities more isolated from the mainstream. Our ambition in this project is to release capacity and voice digitally, artistically and across diverse communities.
"Together, we will find spaces to share, learn and inspire, creating new ways forward for participating in policy development and decision-making."
The study, entitled Productive Margins: Regulating for Engagement, will last for five years.