New Carnegie Report Calls On Partnership Working Between Academics And The Third Sector

April 26, 2016

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A new report published today by the Carnegie UK Trust suggests that public policy outcomes could be improved if academics and the third sector were to work more closely together.

The report, written by Carnegie Fellow Professor Mark Shucksmith OBE, challenges traditional views of universities as sole producers of knowledge and identifies opportunities for academics and charities to work together for the public’s benefit.

As well as drawing on existing research, the Trust has consulted with stakeholders from across the UK and held roundtable events in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Newcastle.

Professor Mark Shucksmith OBE and author of the report explains, “The notion that universities have a monopoly on knowledge production that must be transferred out to users is outdated. Both practitioners and academic institutions are knowledge creators.  Universities and the third sector have a shared interest in achieving impact and have different types of knowledge and expertise that they can bring to the table. There are many mutual benefits which should encourage cooperation.”

The InterAction report sets out two models for better interaction including a radical coproduction model which merges the boundaries between universities and the public. It also identifies 19 specific recommendations for universities, the third sector and funders to aid more effective collaboration. These include:

  • Employing specialist knowledge exchange workers to facilitate interaction between the worlds of social science, policy and practice;
  • Investing in innovative ways of finding spaces for academics and practitioners to exchange knowledge;
  • Resourcing the provision of gateways through which third sector organisations, businesses and other publics can make contact with researchers in universities.

Mark continued: “There are some barriers we must also consider. Academic institutions produce highly valued evidence but this is not always readily accessible. Measures of academic success are often too narrowly focused encouraging institutions to turn inwards and away from society. A number of universities are however already engaging in activity that involve deeper interaction and partnership working with communities and the third sector and we hope this report will act as a stepping stone for more collaborative working moving forward.”

Marytn Evans, CEO, Carnegie UK Trust said, “We need to mix the rigour and authority of academic research with the passion and drive of the voluntary sector. A modern partnership, built upon genuine mutual respect, would mean there is a chance to impact on the most intractable public policy challenges of the 21st century.”

Julia Unwin, CEO, Joseph Rowntree Foundation welcomed the report: “Robust academic evidence is a vital ingredient for effective social change but it also needs to be timely, relevant and applicable. In this report Professor Shucksmith sets out how universities can forge deeper partnership with civil society and ensure that their research has impact.”

The InterAction: How academics and the third sector can work together to influence policy and practice? report can be downloaded here.

Biography of Mark Shucksmith OBE

Mark Shucksmith is Director of the Newcastle Institute for Social Renewal and Professor of Planning at Newcastle University. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the European Society for Rural Sociology and of the Council of the International Rural Sociological Association. Mark was a Board Member of the Commission for Rural Communities (CRC) from 2005-13, was a member of the Government’s Affordable Rural Housing Commission (2005-06), Chair of the Scottish Government’s Committee of Inquiry into Crofting (2007-08), and adviser to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on rural issues. He was awarded the honour of OBE in 2009 for services to rural development and to crofting. He was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences in 2010. He is now a Trustee of ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England).

Mark was appointed Carnegie Fellow at the beginning of 2015 to lead on the InterAction project.