Lifelong Learning Centre

Politics in the pub

Posted on Friday, 18 September 2015 at 11am
by Lynne Cade. See more of my posts here.
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Working with the Communities and Partnerships team in identifying possible Widening Participation candidates for our PHE programme has become a more central part of my role. With this in mind I have started to locate and attend community groups, workshops and non-accredited courses across the Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield areas.

I recently attended a PIP (Politics in the Pub) group held in the Bradford Brewery. This is a monthly meeting where members of the public, community activists, academics and other professionals meet in the format of the BBC’s Question Time programme to outline and debate current political concerns. Although the group call themselves ‘Politics in the Pub’ they do meet in many different environments to facilitate access and remove any barriers to participation (for example, a previous meeting I had attended was held in Bradford University Union).

Guest speakers at the most recent session included Marcus Rattray, Head of Pharmacy and Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Bradford, and Councillor Simon Cooke, Leader of the Conservative Group on Bradford Metropolitan District Council, who were addressing the topic ‘When politics and science collide’. Both speakers outlined their own perspectives around how politicians can use scientific research and findings to influence decisions on social policy, including issues around public health and climate change.

A central question which emerged was how to ensure that politicians have the skills to analyse scientific methods and research findings, and so work within a culture of evidence-based policy making. Many pertinent comments were made and the question and answer session which followed was both interesting and enlightening. The evening concluded with food and beverages and an opportunity for participants, organisers and panel members to network and socialise.

My immediate observation was how the event facilitated the development of social capital. There were people present who would meet this University’s Widening Participation criteria mingling and chatting comfortably with eminent scientists, local politicians, university graduates and other professionals. I took the opportunity to offer the PIP coordinator a lift home so I could discuss the possibility of hosting a future meeting here at the University for LLC students. He was most enthusiastic and plans are already in the pipeline.

Categories: Interdisciplinary Studies, Public Engagement, Widening Participation