Science advice at times of crisis: what roles for universities and academies?

Science advice at times of crisis: what roles for universities and academies?


At this webinar, held on 25th April 2022, 6 international networks came together to discuss the roles of university and academy networks in providing science advice, particularly at times of crisis. 130 joined the ‘live’ webinar, from 28 countries across the world.

The webinar, hosted by AE Cardiff, was organised as a linked webinar to the major conference ‘Science Advice under Pressure’, held two days later. The webinar brought together representatives from the 6 international networks, and was chaired by Professor Ole Petersen, who represented Academia Europaea and SAPEA. A key role was played by UPEN (Universities Policy Engagement Network), of which Cardiff University is a member.

The panellists covered a diverse range of topics, including: the role and power of data; the importance of EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion);  the move to digital platforms like Zoom; the value of stakeholder and community engagement; effective science communication;  political preparedness and the need to upskill staff to deal with science advice; and the policymakers’ perspective.

The webinar ended with a set of conclusions. The role of academics is changing, which requires us to redesign support structures and enhance skills. ‘Networks of networks’ can be important for mutual learning, and international collaboration is helpful. The role of stakeholder communication is crucial, and partnership platforms can play a role in this. At the same time, policymaking is a very human process. We should be pragmatic and realistic about the role academics can play within policy-making processes.

Our expert panel

  • Dr Oludurotimi Adetunji, Associate Dean of the College for Undergraduate Research and Inclusive Science, Brown University
  • Professor Matthew Flinders, Professor of Politics and Founding Director of the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics, University of Sheffield and Chair, Universities Policy Engagement Network (UPEN)
  • Dr Cornel Hart, Senior Lecturer, Community Development Programme, University of the Western Cape, and Board Member of South African Higher Education Community Engagement Forum (SAHECEF)
  • Dr David Phipps, Assistant Vice-President, Research Strategy & Impact (Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation) at York University and Director, Research Impact Canada
  • Chris Webber, Head, Open Innovation Team, UK Government


Watch the webinar


Download the slides


Briefing paper

A briefing paper summarising the key themes and ideas discussed at our webinar will be available soon.


About the webinar

This was a joint event between Universities Policy Engagement Network (UPEN), Academia Europaea, Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS), Research Impact Canada, South African Higher Education Community Engagement Forum (SAHECEF), and Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA).



26th April 2022. For further information please contact AECardiffHub@cardiff.ac.uk



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