Policy@Sussex is a bridge between policy relevant social science research across several departments of the University of Sussex and the policy makers, influencers and shapers who act on evidence. A strong interdisciplinary approach and rigorous academic research offers innovative insights on current policy challenges.
A new research study helps to explain the inadequate performance of NHS Test and Trace described by Dido Harding at a House of Commons Science & Technology committee evidence session in September, through direct comparison with how similar services are organised in other countries.
Comparing the UK’s Covid testing response to five other nations suggests that a key flaw in the NHS Test and Trace service is the failure to provide medical oversight over access to testing, and not frivolous overuse by members of the public.
The UK is the only country of those studied to both provide tests without first going through healthcare experts and to heavily rely on self-sample collection rather than have experts take swabs for patients, explains a study led by Prof Michael Hopkins in the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School. Read more ›
There is a renewed interest in agricultural intensification and the transformation of the livelihoods of subsistence farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. The government of Rwanda, for example, is promoting intensification as a central strategy to increase incomes and improve food security for smallholder farmers.
Connected Care aims to address three main challenges that
care homes face with regards to people living with dementia
Care homes are increasingly challenged by a
rising number of people living with dementia and a simultaneous demand to
improve quality of care amidst limited funding and staff shortages.
Although innovation is associated with better
quality of care, there is limited research looking into the ways in which
digital technology, including the Internet of Things and sensors, could help
care homes deliver better care for people with dementia.
Scholarly research has highlighted that top-down
implementations of technology fail to deliver their potential benefits when
there is limited user buy-in. In the context of care homes, care workers,
residents and their families are often under-represented in technological
By Maria Savona Professor of Innovation and Evolutionary Economics
At exceptional times of public health emergency such as the
present Covid-19 pandemic, Taiwan seems to have contained the spread of
contagion better than other countries. The country has managed to digitally
track individuals with symptoms and their contacts to contain the spread, with
a mix of community based app, releasing data on symptoms and positions, and a
fast reaction by the digital minister who has coordinated the government’s
response. This seems to be an interesting synergy of decentralised and centralised
governance of data for a relevant public purpose.
Lecturer in Accounting (University of Sussex Business School).
On 15 October 2017, an American actress, Alyssa Milano, tweeted: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet”.
Everyone knows what happened next. The Twitter message went viral and triggered one of the largest contemporary movements against abuse of power, assault and harassment. This social movement is continuous and ongoing, digital and global, uniting and encouraging thousands of women and men to speak out and act against sexual harassment and assault.
The problem of sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace is complex and needs to be tackled from many different directions.
Dr Goncharenko commenced a research project in November 2018 that aimed to understand how the #MeToo movement transformed the public perception of accountability for abuse of power in the workplace and caused the development of new social and regulatory mechanisms to hold organisations and individuals to account.
Lecturer in Energy Policy (SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit) University of Sussex.
With the development of renewable energy sources, decentralised energy production is becoming more prevalent and its rapid expansion is disrupting politics in the energy sector.
Generated off-grid and produced close to where it will be used – rather than at a large plant elsewhere and sent through the national grid – decentralised energy can include micro-renewables, heating and cooling as well as geothermal, biomass or solar energy. Schemes can serve a single building, a whole community or be built out across an entire city.
As renewable energy communities capture market share, they are disrupting ownership of a sector that has traditionally been controlled by a relatively small number of profit-maximizing firms with increasing political conflict between new entrants and incumbent regime actors.
Dr Marie Claire Brisbois, as part of The Powershifts Project is examining the impact of renewable energy communities – a specific form of decentralised energy – on politics and markets. The first stage of the research used three case studies to understand whether and how political power is shifting and the implications of this change.
The key findings are:
Renewable energy communities are beginning to collectively shift political power
Renewable energy communities are building technical and political capacity, forming strategic political coalitions, and are increasingly enmeshed with local authorities
Where policy and regulatory frameworks are supportive of renewable energy communities, their expansion is leading to controlled growth of distributed electricity generation ownership. Where policy frameworks are unsupportive, this growth is present but ad hoc and often subversive
The expansion of renewable energy communities has implications for the overall fairness, stability and security of power systems.
Dr Brisbois is currently soliciting survey responses for Phase 2 of the Powershifts Project from policymakers and regulators who work on issues related to decentralised energy.
Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 gives a significant magnitude of
discretion to local enforcement agents to decide what counts as anti-social
behaviour and how to implement their powers. The 2014 Act was designed to be
flexible and to enable local agents to tackle a range of local issues. However,
this flexibility can result in the inconsistent implementation of the law and
allow local enforcement agents to use these measures as a means of indirectly
criminalising certain kinds of behaviour whilst targeting specific social
groups. To prevent this, it is important to ensure that these measures are used
appropriately and target only behaviour that really has a negative effect on
other people’s quality of life.
Digital transformations are creating great
opportunities but also challenges for modern labour markets. Supporting and
steering transformations while reducing disruption is a pertinent policy
challenge. While discussions must address the technological anxiety and
declining working conditions associated with advances in AI and automation,
they should also consider how digital transformations could reduce unemployment
and underemployment, and increase prosperity and inclusion at the European
The RAC’s Be Phone Smart campaign reported that drivers using phones caused 2263 crashes between 2013 and 2017. However, most such campaigns focus on hand-held mobile phone use rather than hands-free. Research carried out by Dr Graham J. Hole (University of Sussex) with Dr Gemma F. Briggs and Dr Jim A. J. Turner (Open University) reveals overwhelming evidence that – contrary to popular assumption – driving while having a phone conversation using hands-free technology is no safer than using a hand-held phone.
Over 80% of studies into phone use have now shown significant performance degradation, with hands-free phone use causing the same dangerously high levels of distraction as hand-held phone use. Drawing from their own research, as well as numerous studies by other academics and public bodies, this policy brief debunks some common misconceptions around the safety of hands-free phone use, and examines some potential solutions for tackling the problem.
In 2014, the African Union adopted the Science, Technology
and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA-2024). The first 10-year part of
the Union’s longer-term Agenda 2063, 2019 marks the strategy’s halfway point,
and an opportune time to take stock and evaluate its performance so far.
However, the STISA-2024’s original timeline did not incorporate a mid-term
Dr Chux Daniels (SPRU) has been working with the African Observatory for Science, Technology and Innovation (AOSTI) and other key stakeholders to develop a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework, which will be used to gather and analyse key data from STISA-2024’s first five years of implementation. In this policy brief, Dr Daniels outlines the strategy’s priority areas and objectives, why an M&E framework is necessary, and presents key considerations and recommendations for its development.