What research questions will be investigated this year?
There are currently 9 questions that could be investigated, that have been identified as critical by Cambridgeshire County Council officers and members. Approximately 4 of those questions will be taken forward for the whole project. This will be decided depending on researcher's interests, committee support, and identified data issues. Researchers have until the 15th March 2019 to indicate their preferences in the application form, and by the 21st March, the research questions that will be investigated as well as the teams assigned to them will be announced.
- What actions must Cambridgeshire county council take today to meet the government pledge of 80% carbon emission reduction by 2050?
- How to design the future of local government today?
- How to break down the barriers to the uptake of new technologies (like artificial intelligence) in the public sector?
- How do we assess the social impact of our commercial projects?
- What is the most appropriate evaluation method for the Healthy Fenland Fund?
- How can we ensure the best chance in life for our care leavers?
- How do we measure the benefits of the environmental assets owned by Cambridgeshire county council?
- How should Cambridgeshire county council play into the emergence of the “plural” (community focused) sector?
- What is the impact of mobility on pupil outcomes and how to improve those?
Who can participate?
Any researcher based in Cambridge until December 2019 can apply to the programme. That includes any PhD, Postdoc or researcher at the University of Cambridge, Anglia Ruskin University, or at other institutions.
When and where does the programme take place?
It runs from March until September 2019. Researchers can apply to be part of a team until the 15th March 2019, by completing this form:
Successful candidates will be contacted by the 21st March 2019, and inductions will be carried out on the 27th and 28th March 2019. Researchers will meet the officer and member leads for their respective research questions in early April and will have regular meetings with them subsequently. All meetings will normally be held at Shire Hall, the main site of Cambridgeshire County Council.
Reports will need to be handed in by the 15th September 2019, and will be presented at Committee meetings in the last quarter of 2019. We ask researchers to be available until December 2019 as they might need to attend other meetings to discuss their findings.
How much time does it take?
During the research period, participants are expected to contribute an average of 2-4 hours of personal work per week to their project. It is likely that this time commitment will be distributed unevenly across the span of the project, depending on project demands, researchers' other commitments, and delegation within the teams.
The teams will have several meetings with the County Council officer and member leads for their respective research questions and will also meet monthly with all other teams to share progress experiences. Those meetings will be arranged to suit all parties commitments and will usually take place early in the morning or in the late afternoon, during the week.
Is any relevant knowledge or experience necessary?
No, specific expertise on the issues investigated is not required, only a willingness to learn and use your research skills to address the policy question. Teams are usually chosen to have a broad range of backgrounds, with usually at least one team member with some knowledge and experience in the relevant field.
Is applying as part of a team necessary?
No, individual applications are normal, but if you wish to work with specific other researchers, please indicate it on the application form.
What can be learnt from the programme?
The Policy Challenges are a unique opportunity to apply analytical and other transferable skills to a practical policy setting, while gaining a better understanding of the policy environment and contributing to the local community.
What support is available?
Researchers will have access to senior policymakers and to pertinent Council data sources, and will be supported by members of the Council's Transformation Team.