DMU academics meet with deputy mayor to see how collaboration can help address pressing issues in Leicester

A seminar held at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has started the ball rolling for a plan to equip academics with the tools needed to help shape and inform public policy in Leicester and further afield.

The Policy Engagement Symposium, held on campus this month, saw researchers from DMU meet with Leicester City Council Deputy Mayor Coun Adam Clarke to look at how collaboration between DMU experts and Leicester City Council could help address pressing policy issues.

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Leicester City Coun Deputy Mayor Coun Adam Clarke

Dr Ahmad Al-Hiari, a lecturer in Leadership and Management at DMU, said: “This gathering represented our first stride toward realizing the potential of coordinating our collective expertise to influence change.”

The meet with Coun Clarke looked at ways in which DMU and the city council might be able to work together to tackle issues surrounding equality, sustainability and housing.

Outcomes from the seminar included agreements that:

  • DMU researchers could add value to decision-making at the city council, opening avenues for future collaborations
  • Academics could evaluate city issues and recommend tailored solutions around vital areas such as housing and welfare.
  • Innovative approaches from academics could help make Leicester smarter through the integration of technology, developing youth skills, supporting business growth and advising on budgeting for priority sectors such as social services
  • joint projects between DMU and the City Council can simultaneously uplift communities while also informing student education and academic publications.

Dr Al-Hiari added: “Through this open exchange of insights, which identified potential linkages between the city council’s strategies and DMU’s research, we essentially laid vital foundations for a resilient university- city council partnership to aid development across Leicester.

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Dr Ahmad at the discussion with Coun Clarke

“I am particularly thrilled many exploratory concepts were discussed in this summit such as labour markets, skills development, economic growth, education, social welfare, smart cities, and cost-effective urban solutions.

“These embryonic efforts can help stimulate much larger-scale solutions to improving life in Leicester and even further afield.

“This summit has ultimately cemented a strong research culture around policy engagement.

“Our researchers’ early enthusiasm at the seminar is already helping inform the Policy Engagement Unit’s next phases. As such, I welcome all academics to join our network as we work towards building this exciting new initiative.”

Coun Clarke said: “I was delighted to be invited to be a part of this thought provoking DMU symposium on policy engagement this week - I’m confident that those ‘thoughts provoked’ can lead to ‘actions provoked’! Thank you Dr Ahmad for the kind invitation."

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The symposium was held in DMU's Trinity House Chapel

DMU’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Richard Greene added: "It was a real pleasure to hear the deputy mayor develop his arguments and outline so clearly the challenges faced by local government. Many of these resonate with the University and I am sure that through shared research and joint policy development we can work together to address them.”

Former Labour MP Huw Edwards MBE delivered a training session on the links between academia and Parliament while the vice chairs of the Universities Policy Engagement Network, Professor Arlene Holmes-Henderson MBE & Kayleigh Renberg-Fawcett, and the network’s manager, Laura Bea, talked through the mechanics of policy engagement and advised on how to find the right people to connect researchers with relevant policymakers.




Posted on Tuesday 20 February 2024

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