Former Oxford academic and think tank head, Professor Marc Stears, has been named as the first director of the newly-established Sydney Policy Lab.
A key initiative in the 2016–20 Strategic Plan, the Sydney Policy Lab, officially launched in August last year, is a University-wide multidisciplinary initiative that brings researchers together with politicians, government agencies, community groups, campaigners and industry to drive creative and collaborative solutions to the major policy challenges of our time.
As part of his role, Professor Stears will set the direction of the Lab, broker new partnerships between Sydney academics and people beyond the University, and build on existing projects that investigate critical national and international policy issues including cybersecurity, housing, domestic violence, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the impact of mining and youth unemployment.
Until recently, Professor Stears, a political theorist, was the Chief Executive at British think tank, the New Economics Foundation, which under his leadership focused on local economic regeneration, inequality and democratic participation in economic decision-making.
He was political advisor and chief speechwriter to the British Labour Party under the leadership of Ed Miliband, has previously held academic roles at the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and University of Bristol, and is the author or editor of seven books, including The Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies.
We are delighted that someone of Marc’s stature and experience will be joining the University of Sydney to lead this important initiative.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison welcomed Professor Stears, adding that his wealth of experience in straddling government, civil society and academia would be invaluable in creating a respected policy powerhouse that would be the first point of call for policy experts looking to solve complex societal issues.
“We are delighted that someone of Marc’s stature and experience will be joining the University of Sydney to lead this important initiative. It’s rare to find a combination of academic excellence, deep political and community engagement and a passionate commitment to building collaborative partnerships across universities, government, industry and civil society all in one person. I am really looking forward to working with Marc to make the Sydney Policy Lab one of the leading centres of its kind in the world.”
Professor Stears said he was thrilled to join the University and lead the Lab, which is well positioned to provide “truly global leadership at a crucial moment.”
“Across the world, universities are under unprecedented pressure to demonstrate the truly transformative power of their work,” Professor Stears said. “At the same time, policy-makers are facing publics ever-more doubtful of the ability of their government – or any government – to respond to the burgeoning social, economic and environmental challenges of our time.”
“The Policy Lab is well positioned to turn deep knowledge and detailed research into real change in a way that no other university in the world has done before. Through our partnerships, we will help tackle problems that have escaped resolution through the standard political process and I am confident we will be able to contribute immeasurably to the social good.”
“The task of forging collaborations between academics, policy-makers, businesses and broader communities has always been the core of my personal mission and I believe its time has now come.”
Over the next few months, Professor Stears and his team will be talking to faculties and schools across the University to hear directly from researchers and staff. This will help shape the focus and approach of the Sydney Policy Lab, and identify how to best support researchers in impact and engagement work.