Son preference in the UK

Pre-natal sex selection – the attempt to control the sex of offspring before birth – is a contentious issue. In 2012, concerns arose that prenatal sex-selective abortions were occurring in the UK, and since then the topic has been on the parliamentary and public health agenda.

A new ESRC-funded project, outlined in this research brief, is investigating generational shifts in family dynamics with regards to son preference and gender roles among families of Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani origin in the UK. The research involves Prof Maya Unnithan and Dr Ben Kasstan (University of Sussex) and Dr Sylvie Dubuc and Dr Bernice Kuang (University of Reading).

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Posted in Society and Education

Forecasting with fishers to save lives at sea

Accurate, accessible and timely marine weather forecasts are of crucial importance in planning and conducting fishing safely around the world, yet this essential information is not easily accessible to artisanal fishers from the South-West Coast of India, and as a result there are persistently weather-related accidents resulting in loss of earnings, equipment and sometimes life.

A new policy brief explores why incidents relating to adverse weather conditions are still so commonplace on the South-West Coast of India, and suggests ways these incidents could be reduced. The brief is based on research by an interdisciplinary team from the University of Sussex, who studied two fishing villages in the district – Anchuthengu and Poonthura – between February and September 2018.

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Posted in Society and Education

Accelerating the adoption of Electric Vehicles in Europe

A new policy brief by the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand (CIED) Director Professor Benjamin Sovacool and Aarhus University colleagues Gerardo Zarazua de Rubens and Lance Noel looks at the barriers to the spread of electric vehicles (EVs) and makes recommendations to policymakers, industry and car dealerships on how to speed up EV uptake.

The report, based on a study published in Nature Energy in May 2018, identifies car dealerships and sales personnel as major obstacles to the spread of EVs due to sales personnel misinforming customers or not mentioning EVs at all. The researchers document that a lack of knowledge on EV specifications and taxation schemes, as well as the lack of incentives to sell EVs are key factors influencing slow EV sales. Read more ›

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Posted in Energy and Environment

How does the political economy influence the evolution of science funding in sub-Saharan Africa?

Despite increasing understanding that Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) is important for achieving economic growth and reaching development goals, STI in sub-Saharan Africa still suffers from research policy, management and funding challenges. A new policy brief, based on research led by Professor Joanna Chataway (SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit), explores the economic and political context in which Science Granting Councils (SGCs) in sub-Saharan Africa function, the challenges they face and how these can be overcome.

The Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI) was set up to support SGCs in fifteen sub-Saharan countries. The research examined SGCs in five case study countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Senegal. The brief investigates the recurring key themes and issues which were evident across case studies such as the role of governments, human resources and the private sector. Read more ›

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Posted in Technology and Innovation

Tensions and Care in Moderation Work: Insights from the online platform ‘Care Opinion’

Dr Dimitra Petrakaki (Department of Business and Management) has released a policy brief exploring the moderation of patient feedback on the online platform ‘Care Opinion’. The brief presents results from in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted with twelve employees of Care Opinion in 2017.

Care Opinion offers patients the chance to share their experience of healthcare encounters with peers and to feedback to healthcare providers. Patients’ feedback takes the form of a story that is moderated prior to being published on the platform and subsequently becomes publically available. The moderation process involves patient stories being tagged with keywords and given a score to assess their level of criticality. Read more ›

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Posted in Society and Education

Boosting Productivity and Agricultural Wages in India

Dr. Sambit Bhattacharyya (Department of Economics) has released a policy brief exploring the impact of the world’s largest public works program – the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) – on agricultural wages across 19 Indian states.

The MGNREGS scheme grew from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), passed in 2005 by the Government of India’s Ministry of Law and Justice. The Act is a labour law and social security measure that aims to guarantee employment to those in rural areas. As part of the MGNREG scheme, households in rural regions are provided with at least 100 days of wage employment carrying out unskilled manual work.  Read more ›

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Posted in Society and Education

Improving the effectiveness of the UK’s medical innovation ecosystem

In light of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy’s ambitious goals, Dr Michael Hopkins (SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit) sets out to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the UK’s medical innovation ecosystem in a new policy brief.

Drawing on research findings published in his book Science, the State and the City (Owen, Hopkins. 2016), Dr Hopkins looks at the success of US biotech firms to understand where the UK’s life sciences industry is falling short.

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Posted in Technology and Innovation

Humanitarian Corridors: safe and legal pathways to Europe

Professor Michael Collyer and Dr Fabio Petito (School of Global Studies, University of Sussex) have released a policy briefing on the Humanitarian Corridors initiative – a new way of helping vulnerable refugees that is gaining momentum in Europe.

Launched in Italy in 2016, the project was a response to the growing number of people dying in the Mediterranean Sea while attempting to reach mainland Europe. It is run by religious organisations, in partnership with the government, but no state funding is required. In March 2017, the French government signed a similar agreement, proving that it is a replicable model that can be adapted to suit other countries. Read more ›

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Posted in Society and Education

English language for resettled refugees

Senior Lecturer in Education, Dr Linda Morrice, has been investigating the importance of providing resettled refugees* in the UK the opportunity to learn English.

English language learning for resettled refugees is currently delivered through English for Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) programmes. To date ESOL policy and provision has been focused on employability. However, there are many other benefits associated with the provision of English-language learning opportunities.

In this new Policy Brief, Linda shows that access to English language courses can help resettled refugees integrate with the settled population. It can also increase resettled refugee’s confidence when they engage with public services, improve the quality of contact experiences with other people, be empowering, lead to greater satisfaction in work or education and improve health and wellbeing. Read more ›

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An infrastructure evolution – The NIA: A transformative opportunity for UK infrastructure

By Dr Ralitsa Hiteva, Research Fellow at SPRU (University of Sussex)

A new policy brief discussing the transformative potential of the National Infrastructure Assessment (NIA) has been published by the SPRU Infrastructure team. The key message of the policy brief is that – to realise its transformative potential – the NIA needs to be based on a forward-looking, innovative and systemic approach. It advocates developing a systemic approach building on interdependence, and a systemic NIA methodology.

The brief responds to the UK government and industry agenda on creating a more strategic vision for UK infrastructure and introducing more coordination between different infrastructure institutions, projects and objectives. The National Infrastructure Commission was set up in January 2016 to analyse the UK’s long-term economic infrastructure needs, outline a strategic vision over a 30-year time horizon and set out recommendations for how identified needs should begin to be met, through the publication of a NIA once per Parliament. This policy brief summarises the key points from the ICIF response to the NIA consultation submitted on 5th August 2016. Read more ›

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Posted in Technology and Innovation