Over the past decade Professor Matt Flinders has promoted and built impact capacity across the social sciences through his creation of new approaches, institutions, training initiatives and opportunities for engagement.

Impacts

  • Professor Flinders founded the Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics in 2013. Under his leadership the centre has gained international recognition as a centre of excellence in the art of 'engaged scholarship'.
  • Working with the Political Studies Association and a wide range of international broadcasters, he established the annual Total Exposure competition in 2015, which enables social and political scientists to 'pitch' ideas for new TV and radio documentaries.
  • Professor Flinders established the first undergraduate module to be formally accredited and co-taught by the House of Parliament – now rolled out to 20 UK universities.
  • He developed new professional training courses such as a three-part Crick Centre training course – co-designed and co-delivered with clerks from the Houses of Parliament – that has equipped more than 200 academics to engage effectively with parliament.  
  • He built capacity among the next generation of researchers by working with the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology to develop new parliamentary fellowship schemes.
  • Professor Flinders has promoted networking opportunities through Knowledge Exchange Fellowships and within research projects. For example, 40 PhD early career researchers worked as facilitators on his citizens' assemblies research, cultivating long-term relationships with users.

"You would be hard pushed to find someone more energetic and committed to building new and increasingly innovative bridges between academe and society than Matt Flinders." (Rt Hon. John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons)

"Sir Bernard Crick set out to promote a form of scholarship that could reach out beyond academe and, through this, help to support – even change – society. Matt Flinders has adopted this mantle and has sought to get beyond 'normal' academia, and this has been getting out there and in amongst different communities – about building capacity and innovating in order to inspire others." (Professor the Lord David Blunkett, Former Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Education)

About the research

Political disengagement and evidence of anti-political sentiment remains a major social challenge in the UK and around the world. Changing attitudes and patterns of behaviour are caused by the interplay between a number of technological, economic and cultural factors, says Professor Matt Flinders.

Over the past decade, he's been on a mission to help UK social scientists build the sort of relationships that ensure they can make a difference in society. That's meant not only creating a new platform for impact in the Crick Centre, but also helping social scientists think differently about what they do and why they do it.

"We need to cultivate cultural change within academia and make the case for this shift in a positive, inspiring and evidence-based way," Professor Flinders explains. "For me the impact agenda has always offered a positive challenge that forces me to think creatively, take risks, forge new relationships and stress-test my ideas in new arenas."

"The rise of nationalist populism, concerns about sections of society who feel 'left behind', the Brexit referendum all highlight the need not just for world-class social science to understand what is driving this period of flux, but also a science base with the capacity to take the findings of this research far beyond the seminar room and lecture theatre."