What we do
The Academy’s Policy Unit is the first policy unit in the UK covering the entire mathematical sciences portfolio, and spanning education, innovation and implementation, and academia. This concept was welcomed as being needed by the Council of Mathematical Sciences (CMS) constituent bodies, and by the broader mathematics community.
Constituted in October 2023, the Policy Unit’s (for now) embryonic team will support the overall goals of the Academy by having a voice at the table where policy and funding decisions are made, and by amplifying that voice through appropriate channels.
The Policy Unit will concern itself with both:
- mathematical sciences for policy, i.e., ensuring mathematical sciences inputs to government policy across all areas, bringing rigorous evidence-based analysis to decision making, and
- policy for mathematical sciences, i.e., developing strong and data-driven policy papers, taking into account key stakeholders and considerations of EDI, to ensure the health and vitality of the whole mathematical sciences community.
The Policy Unit will seek to respond rapidly to political trends and events which affect the entire mathematical sciences, and to proactively lead discussions on policy topics around broader areas which require mathematical sciences input.
Any significant piece of work the Policy Unit considers undertaking will be weighed up against the following five tests, with sign-off from Prof. Cathy Hobbs (Policy workstream lead), Prof. Rachel Bearon (Communications and Advocacy workstream lead), and Nigel Campbell (Chair of the Executive Committee).
- Expertise. Does the Academy, or the mathematical science community, have unique or leading expertise that could contribute to public policy and/or decisions made in this area?
- Topicality and balance. Is this issue one on which decisions are being made now, or being framed, such that there is an opportunity to add expertise for immediate benefit to decision makers and hence to public policy (topicality)? And regardless of topicality, does it support an overall balance in the Academy’s portfolio of work (balance)?
- Importance. Given the opportunity costs, is this issue one which is sufficiently important (within the mathematical sciences community, or in general) that the mathematical science community engages?
- Substantiveness. Can the Academy and the mathematical science community make a contribution that is significant, material, or substantive to the relevant decisions that may be made in this area?
- Value-addition. Would a contribution from the Academy add value to existing or planned engagements and inputs (from the mathematical science community more broadly, other learned societies, or other third parties generally)? Would that value added be demonstrable with the community, and could it have impact quickly?
Within the Policy Unit, Thomas Law and Dr Vinesh Maguire-Rajpaul (Policy Analysts) are supported by Tina Bechtel (Personal Assistant & Project Coordinator); all three report to Dr Christie Marr (Executive Director).
The Policy Unit also reports regularly to and receives valuable input from members of the Academy’s Policy workstream, Advisory Board, and Academy’s Executive Committee, as well as a policy expert from the Council for Mathematical Sciences.