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Looking at evidence-informed policymaking through the ‘dissonance’ lens

This week I attended  the Development Days Conference 2018 in Helsinki. This is a yearly event organised by the Finnish Society for Development Research. This year’s topic was: The Politics of Sustainability: Re-thinking resources, values and justice.


It is a nice and informal event which brings together researchers, activists, and practitioners from all over Finland and overseas.

Sian Sullivan of Bath Spa University gave a very interesting presentation sharing her thoughts on Dissonance Cognitive Theory drawing from the groundbreaking work by Leon Festinger in the mid 1950s . Festinger’s theory challenged Action-opinion Theories which proposed that actions can influence subsequent beliefs and attitudes. His Dissonance Cognitive Theory, turned things around and highlighted the sense of discomfort that people feel when confronting situations involving new knowledge and conflicting beliefs or behaviours.

The fundamental assumptions of Dissonance Cognitive Theory are:

1. Humans are sensitive to inconsistencies between actions and belief.
2. Recognition of this inconsistency causes dissonance, and motivates an individual to resolve the dissonance. Once an individual recognises that one of her/his beliefs are being challenges, the instil is not to just say “oh well, that is fine”. There is usually some sort of mental anguish about this.
3. The degree of dissonance varies with the importance of the beliefs.

How do people resolve dissonances? The theory suggests three main ways:

1. Change beliefs (difficult but not impossible)
2. Make sure that you never do this action again (and do not feel the discomfort)
3. A third and more complex method of resolution is to change the way they view/remember/perceive their action, in other words “rationalise” the actions (eg, I think CO2 is contributing to climate change, yet I take a plane to fly to Helsinki to attend a conference because it is important that I share about my research).

While listing to the presentation I was wondering to what extent we who are working on evidence-informed policy systems are influenced by Action-opinion Theories and the notion of a causal links between new evidence and knowledge produced by researchers, policy analysts, etc. and changes in the beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, decisions by policy makers.

If we look through the Dissonance Theory lens at the relationships between knowledge and policymaking, what we see is resistance, rationalisation of strongly held beliefs, justification of the refusal to accept new facts and knowledge, strengthening of biases, and discomfort. Do we pay enough attention to this? The alternative, of course, is not stop producing knowledge to inform policy. I believe that knowledge is needed and required to inform policy decisions (my bias) but we need also to be aware that one trait of human psychology is to confirm an rationalise biases and not to be open to new knowledge and facts and be ready to change actions.

The researchers’ mindset may be more geared to asking questions and challenging biases and assumptions. But we cannot assume that everybody’s mindset (esp. policy makers) is the one of John Maynard Keynes who famously said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”.

It seems to me that what Dissonance Theory tells us working on evidence-informed policy space, is to be aware of our biases and become more creative in designing ways to bring knowledge into policy, in addition to the research occurring in academia and think tanks. Policy experiments are one way which has gained considerable traction. Other ways include: collaboration between researchers and knowledge intermediaries has great potential; packaging knowledge to communicate through different channels and platforms is important; convene networks and working groups which bring together researchers and policymakers to develop policy research agendas.


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#Brexit, the populist surge and the crisis of complexity

Is policymaking becoming too complex? What does this mean for evidence-informed policy making?

Paul Arbair


The British vote in favour of an exit from the EU has thrown the UK’s political system into chaos and shocked Europe and the world. The long-term consequences of this vote are still unclear, but some fear it could trigger the undoing of the UK and accelerate the disintegration of the EU. Many see this outcome as a new victory for populist movements, which are on the rise across much of the Western world. Something more fundamental, however, might be at play.

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Flag of Finland. Photo: Sepi V (CC BY 2.0)
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Making research evidence count: insights from Finland’s Policy Analysis Unit

After more than a decade in Asia working to build governments’ use of evidence, I recently moved back to Finland. Here I’ve found commitment to evidence and innovation like nowhere else.

Kokeileva Suomi or Experimental Finland is a great example of the nation’s ‘readiness to innovate’. Set up by Prime Minister Juha Sipilä in 2015, it tests policies at local level and scales up those that work. For example, Finland’s experimental universal basic income scheme, which made international headlines in 2017.

Equally important, however, is that Kokeileva is coupled with careful planning. Each year, the Prime Minister’s Office publishes a plan to make sure that the ministries have access to the research they need to tackle varied and complex social problems.

To learn more about how the Finnish Government manages research evidence, I travelled to the Prime Minister’s Office in Helsinki. I met with Science Specialist Anna-Kaisa Lähteenmäki-Smith and Project Manager Sari Löytökorpi from the Government Policy Analysis Unit, which is in charge of coordinating the annual research plan.

The following interview offers insights into what lies behind Finland’s commitment to research evidence, and how its annual plan operates. Having worked with governments around the world to improve evidence-informed decision-making processes, I think there’s a lot that other governments can learn from Finland.

What values underpin Finland’s investment in research evidence?

Openness and transparency are important values in Finnish society. Citizens expect transparency and openness from politicians and civil servants.

The research we fund ultimately seeks to improve society. It’s not the government’s research. We use tax payers’ money, so it’s everybody’s research. The results are owned by, and accessible to the media, civil society, citizens, researches, and so on.

That is why we ask grant recipients to include a clear communication strategy in their proposal for funding. This must describe how they intend to share and make available the research results and data through different channels, activities and knowledge products.

Our opinion is that the more openness and critical discussion there is in the planning stages of policy-making, the better the quality. The research we fund makes a contribution and supports that process.

What does ‘impact’ mean for the policy analysis unit, and how do you measure it?

Impact matters for our work. Two areas in particular: the quality of the research results and products, and the quality of the research process.

The outputs of the research we fund include for instance data, reports, policy recommendations, dialogue, and so on.

We define results as the availability, visibility and utilization of knowledge in the form of information, knowledge, expertise, assessment, solutions, concepts, and models. The results contribute to direct effects (i.e. a better basis for drafting regulations and making decisions, closer cooperation between knowledge producers and public debate) and indirect effects (i.e. more efficient and better-quality policy implementation, participatory decision-making, improved trust and ownership).

We use different tools to gather this information. One tool is a questionnaire which we send out to policy-makers, civil servants, and researches involved in the projects we fund. In this survey we ask for opinions about the quality of our work, the support we provided throughout the research process, the clarity of guidelines we publish, the dialogue and cooperation established during the research process.

We also ask whether the policy decisions have been informed by the research results and, if not, why. In other words, we conduct a self-assessment which looks at the quality of the research as well as the quality of the dialogue during the research process.

In ‘The politics of evidence-based policy making’, Paul Cairney writes that it is difficult not to agree with the idea of using evidence to inform policy. But in reality, it is difficult to do and ultimately, evidence is just a small part of policy-making. How does this resonate with your experience?

It is not easy to bring evidence into the policy-making process, particularly research-based evidence.  There are a few challenges that are intrinsic to research-based knowledge.

The first is that it is not possible to guarantee that the results of a research project are actually used in the policy decisions. Politicians and civil servants also bring their personal and political values into the decision-making processes and sometimes these can reduce the influence of research-based results.

A second issue is that research results are unlikely to provide a straight-forward yes or no answer to any specific policy problem. Research results can suggest options, compare the costs and benefits of the different alternatives and choices, but there will always be a degree of uncertainty. In the end, research-based evidence is just one element of the policy-making process.

However, it can be an important element. Research findings help to generate discussion. They can even help to reach a shared view on a specific problem,  for example between the parties in government and those in opposition.

The debate and discussion over research results can be a starting point for a compromise which is often what policy decisions ultimately are.

The 2017 research plan included 42 research topics, with a budget of €10.4 million. How did you decide the research topics?

All research and evidence funded through this instrument is aligned with the overall government strategy and policy agenda. The specific research topics are selected through a process of consultation with all ministries.

We do not do this alone. The government working group for the coordination of research, foresight and assessment activities (or the TEA Working Group) plays a very important role.

The TEA Working Group includes representatives of all ministries and has the task to strengthen horizontal monitoring of research, foresights and assessment activities across ministries. They are a key actor in the selection of the research topics that untimely are included in the yearly research plan.

A good selection process requires good research questions and these are obviously difficult to formulate, especially because not all civil servants have been trained as researchers. Often politicians and civil servants come up with research needs and questions that are too broad or too narrow.

This is one of the functions of our unit: work with ministries to ensure that the research questions are specific, relevant to policy-making and researchable.

An additional area of our work is to check the extent to which the research questions that arise have already been researched. To do so, we collaborate closely with other teams and units here at the Prime Minister’s Office, such as the Foresight team or the Knowledge Management Unit. The Knowledge Management Unit, helps us to search and find whether a research has already been conducted earlier on.

And how do you break down the research questions that come from ministries but are too broad?

We are testing some new approaches to do this in addition to helping directly with feedback and comments. This year we have had three co-creation workshops for formulating knowledge needs and research projects.

In a nutshell, the process functions around bringing together academics, policy researchers, experts and analysts from relevant organisations. They sit together discuss what the knowledge need is, what is already known and what specific questions could help provide new and relevant answers to policy-makers.

We are happy with the results so far and we will continue testing this approach. We find it useful not only because it helps clarify research questions and methodology, but because it establishes a dialogue between researchers and policymakers from the very beginning which then continues throughout the research activities through, for example, the discussion about preliminary results.

This article was originally published on ODI Insight. Read the original article.

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Policy content change is one of the types of policy change, but not the only one

There is an interesting exchange mid-way through David Letterman’s interview to President Barack Obama on Netflix.  Letterman asks President Obama about his reflection on policymaking and the role and power that the president actually has.  Obama answer is quite illuminating in terms of the nature of policy change. Yes, he says, a lot of his time was dedicated to debate and discuss legislation but more than anything else, he saw his role as trying to influence attitudes, perceptions, and values around policy problems and, importantly, policy solutions.  These changes of behaviours are in most cases the key determinants of change in the policy content.

We, who work on evidence-informed policymaking, sometimes focus our strategies and results too much on changes in policy content and forget that other type of changes (ie, attitude, perceptions, etc.) as as important to develop technically sound and politically feasible solutions to policy problems.

A very entertaining and refreshing interview. Worth watching.


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Tips for public speaking

TED Talks by Chris Anderson is not only about providing useful suggestions for giving public speeches.  it is also about the bigger theme of knowledge sharing. In all its forms. In all it areas. In all its aspects.

Photo: Dian Lofton / TED

I have no doubt (and Chris Anderson confirms that in the book) that there are people who want to get on the TED stage for the limelight. But many people do not. They have true stories to tell. Stories and knowledge they want to share and TED is a great opportunity to do that.

Ted Talks is also an interesting example of documenting lessons’ learned about a project. The foundation led by Chris Anderson bought TED in 2001  The book was published in 2016. In the years in between TED has had  good speakers, bad speakers, average speakers and the internet with the launching of a TED Channel on YouTube.

TED has evolved over time. It has not followed a straight planned line from activities to results. Most importantly, the experience has become learning which has help to improve formats and test new ideas. The book is the result failures and reflection. I wish more development projects would be given the same gifts: time to evolve, time to reflect and learn, time to adapt and change.

Here few tips that I have noted down so far:

Have a throughline for what you want to say (or write). Write it down in no more then 15 words and build you argument around it.

A good speech structure:

Introduction  – what will be covered
Context – why the issue matters
Main concepts
Practical implications

A checklist to develop the throughline:

Am I passionate about the topic?
Does it inspire curiosity?
Will it make a difference to the audience to have this knowledge?
Is my talk (piece of writing) a gift or an ask?
Is the information fresh, or is it already out there?
Do I know enough about this to make a talk ( a piece of writing) worth the audience’s (readers’) time?
Do I have the credibility to take on this topic?

Happy reading!

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LSE podcasts I liked

Being back in Finland and having to fix things in the house has given me an opportunity to listen again to the always very interesting  LSE Public Lecture podcasts. The effects and implications of Brexit and the election of President Trump dominate the discussion at the moment but they are not the only themes. Here a couple of podcasts that I wanted to share with you:

Fate of the West: the battle to save the world’s most successful political idea

Bill Emmont was the editor-in-chief of the Economist from 1993 to 2006, and is now a writer and consultant on international affairs. He is a regular contributor to the Financial Times, La Stampa and Nikkei Business. His latest book is The Fate of the West: The Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea.

In this podcast Emmont explains how they must change in order to recover and thrive. When faced with global instability and economic uncertainty, it is tempting for states to react by closing borders, hoarding wealth and solidifying power. We have seen it at various times in Japan, France and Italy and now it is infecting all of Europe and America, as the vote for Brexit in the UK has vividly shown. This insularity, together with increased inequality of income and wealth threatens the future role of the West as a font of stability, prosperity and security. Part of the problem is that the principles of liberal democracy upon which the success of the West (i.e., countries who have embraced democracy and the rule fo law across the world) has been built have been suborned, with special interest groups such as bankers accruing too much power and too great a share of the economic cake. So how is this threat to be countered? States such as Sweden in the 1990s, California at different times or Britain under Thatcher all halted stagnation by clearing away the powers of interest groups and restoring their societies’ ability to evolve. To survive, the West needs to be porous, open and flexible. From reinventing welfare systems to redefining the working age, from reimagining education to embracing automation, Emmott will lay out the changes the West must make to revive itself in the moment and avoid a deathly rigid future.

Emont talks about the evolution of democracies rather than the development of democracies which I found quite interesting.


Farewell to Globalization: Farewell to the Liberal World Order? The Populist Revolt from Brexit to Trump and beyond

Professor Michael Cox is Director of LSE IDEAS and Emeritus Professor of International Relations at LSE.

Until very recently nearly everybody – with a few critical exceptions – insisted that globalization was the only way forward for the world as a whole. Yet globalization is now under challenge: and not in the developing countries where billions still live in poverty but in the rich nations of the West. How has this come about and how serious is the opposition to globalization? One point in Professor Cox discussion is that populists who are generally against evidence and facts that contractionist their perspective prose a big challenges to evidence-informed policymaking.


A Village, a Country and the Discipline: economic development in Palanpur over seven decades

Professor Lord Stern and Professor Amartya Sen

Professor Nicholas Stern is the Patel Professor of Economics and Government at LSE, Director of the LSE India Observatory and President of the British Academy.  Amartya Sen  is the recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics and is an LSE Honorary Fellow.

Professor Stern and his team  have conducted research in the village of Palanpur in India over several decades. What do their findings tell about the evolution of social and economic systems, inequality and the prospects for India? This is a unique research project which has had the opportunity to last over a long period of time and therefore being able to capture the evolution of the social and economic system in the village of Palanpur over generations. To me it shows why a (very) long term perspective is needed when thinking about development and why evolution and systems are terms that provide a better perspective about how change happens in a society that development and sectors.

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The three components that can help system thinking in development programmes

As I reread Duncan Green’s blog about an interesting conversation we had over a coffee few weeks ago in Brixton (How might a systems approach change the way aid supports the knowledge sector in Indonesia?), it occurred to me that I could add something.

‘Systems’, he writes, ‘evolve through the endless churn of variation, selection and amplification. Variation = rate of mutations – new species, new companies; Selection = some are fit for the landscape, others are rubbish and die out; Amplification = the fit ones expand or proliferate.’

Hong Kong MTR map

The map of Hong Kong’s MTR: elements, interconnections, and purpose

When it comes to development interventions, in order to contribute to a change or changes in a system, the various stakeholders have to ‘see’ where the web of variation, selection and amplification is weakest and focus on those weaknesses.

There is something more, I think. Duncan’s blog reminded me of the something I read in a book by Donella Meadows, which he also mentions in his How Change Happens, Thinking in Systems. A Primer.

Meadows writes about the key components that make a system: elements, interconnections, and purpose.

  • The elements of a system are easy to spot. They are visible and tangible. In a knowledge sector, for example, elements include universities, policy research institutes, policy analysis units, ministries, local governments, civil servants, researchers, data scientists, etc.
  • Interconnections are the relationships that hold the elements together. To spot these interconnections requires some research and analysis to understand why elements are linked as they are. Interconnections are often the results of information flows and in a knowledge sector there can be a government department linking with think tanks to procure an analysis about the state of the economy or the quality of education and health services. The government can then use (or not use) this information to inform funding decisions.
  • The purpose is the most difficult component of a system to spot. The purpose of the systems can be articulated in written documents such as regulations or bylaws, but it is better deduced from the behavior of organizations and individuals. For example, a written commitment to use more research-based evidence in policymaking may or may not be followed by concrete requests from ministries for research results and analysis to think tanks and policy research organizations.

To generate and/or contribute to changes in a system, it is important to understand how systems evolve (variation, selection and amplification) but also to have a clear map of the components of the systems trying to go beyond the mapping of the elements and changes to the elements of the system (e.g., new research organizations, trained civil servants, etc.) which usually, as Meadows reminds us, have the least impact on the system as a whole but are easier to measure and report on.

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Estimating the return on investment of policy research and engagement

by Tanty Nurhayati Djafar Ni Wayan Suriastini , and Arnaldo Pellini

Is it possible to calculate the return of investment on a research policy project?

Well, the Indonesian think tank SurveyMETER and the Knowledge Sector Initiative have given it a go for a policy research project on services and infrastructure for the aging population in the Indonesian municipality of Balikpapan. Here is what we did and what we learned along the way.

First, a few disclaimers

This is the first time we have used this methodology and so it is an experiment and we’re learning as we go (Infographic).

It is important to remember that calculating the return on investment is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding research impact and contribution. The evidence produced should complement other monitoring, evaluation and learning work. In the case of SurveyMETER, we also undertook three episode studies to describe how the research and engagement activities contributed to the policy decisions in three Indonesian municipalities.

It is not possible to calculate the return on investment for all policy research projects. In this case study, the policy change resulted in a budget commitment by the government which provided a monetary sum to calculate against the research investment.

The policy research project and impact

Indonesia’s aging population (over 65 years of age) is increasing rapidly. It is expected to increase from 18 million (or 7.5 percent of the population) in 2010 to 41 million (or 14 percent of the population) by 2030.  If we consider Indonesia’s rapid rate of urbanisation (2.6 percent per year), the number of elderly citizens living in urban areas will grow considerably. Some municipalities and local governments have started to think about how to prepare for this change. In 2013, Balikpapan, a municipality in south-west Kalimantan, began a collaboration with SurveyMETER to produce and discuss research evidence to better understand how well the municipality was addressing senior citizens’ access to services and infrastructure and decide which investments would be required to provide senior citizens with a high quality of life.

During 2013 SurveyMETER collaborated with the Centre for Ageing Studies at the University of Indonesia. They conducted a study in 14 cities across Indonesia to assess their preparedness for this increase in the senior citizen population. As a result, the municipality committed some US$ 8.5 million over 2015-2020 to fund better services and infrastructure for elderly citizens.

Estimating the return on investment

To test the return on investment with the policy engagement by SurveyMETER we used a five-step methodology which has been developed by the Redstone Strategy Group. Redstone used this methodology in 2013 with 3 policy research organisations supported by the Think Tank Initiative: Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA) in Tanzania, Fundación ARU in Bolivia, and the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Ghana (see examples from this exercise for further information).

Steps 1 – 4 are relatively straightforward:

  1. Define the policy problem: in this case, it was an aging population and the need for policies and programs to prepare appropriate services and infrastructure within the city.
  2. Define the research contribution to addressing the problem: the research provided a comparative assessment of preparedness across 14 municipalities.
  3. Define the ‘benefit’ of the policy change: based on the available data, we defined the benefit as the budget commitment by the municipality to fund services and infrastructure.
  4. Estimate the cost of research and policy engagement activities: this was calculated by the research finance team.

Step 5 is where it gets tricky. We had to estimate the portion of benefits for which we could argue a contribution.

We took the six conditions for policy change suggested by the Redstone Strategy Group and discussed the conditions before and after the research took place. We then estimated the contribution of the research to any changes. Ideally this process would involve external as well as project stakeholders, but as this was an experimental first go, we kept it within the project team.

Of course, without external stakeholders, internal biases are inevitable. We think we may have underestimated the contribution in favour of other external factors.

Initially we struggled to relate the six conditions to the context of SurveyMETER’s policy engagement in Balikpapan. A paper that really helped us understand the definitions of the conditions and facilitate the discussion was Assessing Advocacy by Barkhorn et al. (2013).

A ratio is a comparison of like quantities; estimating the benefits of policy research and engagement requires good access to data and the availability of financial or monetary values for both the benefits and the costs. It took some time for us to gather the data about the budget commitment of the municipality of Balikpapan. The lesson we learned is that if the decision is made to use the return on investment for a policy research and engagement project, it is better to start planning data collection at an early stage of the project.

As is often the case, commitment of the leadership of the institute has been a key enabling factor for putting in place a team and providing it with the space and resources to test (and learn) this and other tools for assessing the policy influence of policy engagement and research. This enabled the SurveyMETER team to gain some additional experience with qualitative research methods and storytelling that are relatively new to it.


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First impressions from entering the best school system in the world

In June this year my family and I moved back to Europe after spending more than 10 years in Southeast Asia. We decided for various reason to move back to Finland. We have family and relatives here and one of the factors that brought us back was to be closer to the family.

A second factor that led to our decision was also the quality of the Finnish schooling system which is consistently ranked together with Singapore at the top of international rankings such as OECD’s PISA.

Our daughters have started school in a local primary school in the Philippines in  Dumaguete  where we lived between 2009 and 2013. When we moved to Jakarta in the end of 2013 they attended for the first time an international school which they enjoyed.

Their main language of communication is English. They speak also well Finnish and some Italian. When we were doing some research to choose the city where to move in Finland we found that at least three cities (Helsinki, Tampere, and Turku) have public (i.e. free) schools where the language of instruction is English for primary and lower secondary.


We chose to move to Tampere and registered our daughters to the Finnish International School of Tampere. The school year started on 10th of August. Few days before that the families of the newly enrolled children were invited for a meeting with the principal and some of the teachers.

These are my first impression from that meeting and the first week of schooling of our daughters:

– There are about 700 students in the school. Some come from families where both parents are from overseas. Others are from families where one of the parents is from Finland. The majority, however, are from Finnish families that have decided that the children would get their education in English and therefore become very good English speakers.

– Finnish is taught to all foreign students as a second language for several hours a week.

– After the first day of school both my daughters were amazed that the teachers had asked the students to call them by their first name. There is no Mr, Mrs, Miss, or even worse Dr., followed by the family name. Just the first name. Plain and simple.

– There are the usual subjects such as Math, History, Science, etc. School subjects, however, include also wood work, working with textile, and home economics which is compulsory for all students and is about learning to cook food, bake bread and cakes, make jams, iron clothes, and use a sewing machine.

– Students are given a personalised learning schedule depending on the extra subjects they have enrolled to. This means that school days do not start always at the same time. School can start on Monday at 8am, on Tuesday at 10, on Wednesday at 9, etc.

–  The city of Tampere has an online platform for all schools where parents, students and of course teachers are registered and can communicate with eachother about absence, problems, test results,  etc. At the same time the city education office can gather data about enrolment, nationalities, students and teachers ratios, etc.

–  School day ends at 2 or 3pm. Lunch is provided for free at school.

– At the meeting with the teachers, the mother of a new American student asked  at what age are kids expected to go to school alone in Finland. The principal replied that in Finland that would be from the first grade. Our daughters are of course older than that and are learning about using the public busses to go to school. I went with them for the first couple of days and (coming from Jakarta) was really surprised to see very young kids getting into the bus, tapping their bus cards, and be alone or with friends on their way to/from school.

–  Every 45-50 minutes there is a break and the students are expected to get outside their classroom to stretch their legs. Once a day they are expected to get also outside the building and out into the school yard. Some of the parents asked at what temperature during the winter kids are kept inside. The teachers said that that happens only very rarely when it is exceptionally cold, but up to -15 C and with the right clothes, the students are brought out to get some fresh air every day.

So, these are my very first positive impressions of the best school system in the world. No doubts I will learn more as the year progresses. There must be something that does not work well, but so far I could not see it.

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The struggle of bringing research into climate change policy

I read a vey interesting article in the Guardian Weekly about the struggle of science research in the United States following the election of Donald Trump as president (The climate change battle dividing trump’s America). Funding for climate change research is being cut. A climate change sceptic has been appointed as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.  A couple fo things caught my attention in this article:

  1. Yes, to inform policy decisions with scientific knowledge and research is difficult
  2. Science and evidence for policy is under attack from the conservative right but also from a postmodern strand fo leftwing discourse which views science as a social construct
  3. Politicians in the US, UK and Europe have become too technocratic, unable to to view issues from a personalised emotive basis.
  4. Climate change scientific in the US are thinking to run for Congress, thus becoming politicians to bring more evidence and science into policy

35 days 35 photos 35mmThese are difficult times for making the case that research, knowlede, science matter for informing and improving policy decisions, particularly in the West.  Luckily, there are countries who are investing in evidence and seek ways to bring more evidence into policy, like Louise Ball of the Overseas Development Institute has highlighted in a recent blog: Developing and emerging countries buck the ‘post-truth’ trend.