OPEN Leaders

Strengthening leadership for policy engagement is one of the four strategic aims of the Oxford Policy Engagement Network (OPEN), and is key to achieving the other three:

  • Improving access for the policymaking community to the best available research evidence and expertise at Oxford, and supporting its use in decision-making;
  • Deepening our understanding of how research can inform policymaking, and developing the skills catalyse that process; and
  • Creating and developing more opportunities for engagement, including through participation in relevant networks. 

In March 2021, following an open call, five OPEN Leaders were appointed, who will be leading initiatives that contribute to the aims above, for the benefit of OPEN members and others across the University. We spoke to them about their plans, which they be implementing with funding from Research England’s Higher Education Innovation Fund.

Meet our first cohort of OPEN Leaders:

Abigail Adams-PrasslDr Abigail Adams-Prassl, Department of Economics 

Abi’s plans include an interdisciplinary workshop on engaging with the UK Parliament, improving the visibility of policy-engaged researchers, and embedding engagement into departmental strategies and plans.

On her appointment as an OPEN Leader, Abi says, ‘I’m really excited – this will enable me to share with, and learn from, policy-focused colleagues at all career stages from across the University.’

Dr Arlene Holmes-HendersonDr Arlene Holmes-Henderson, Faculty of Classics 

As an OPEN Leader, Arlene will focus on building colleagues’ capacity to communicate research to policymakers, guidance for those with less experience, and making interdisciplinary connections to better inform languages policy.

‘This will enable me to share my own experience with others, and learn. I’m particularly keen to strengthen networks relating to languages policy’, says Arlene.

Dr Olga Ioannidou, Research Officer, Department of Education Olga Ioannidou

As an OPEN Leader, Olga will monitor already existing policy engagement activities within the Department of Education; facilitate the communication between researchers and policymakers; and share examples of successful policy engagement with wider audiences.’

Olga says, ‘OPEN Leaders is a great opportunity to bring together researchers and policymakers to discuss how to facilitate evidence-based education policy.’

Dr Jasper Montana, School of Geography and the Environment Jasper Montana

As an OPEN Leader, Jasper will support researchers involved in biodiversity-related research at Oxford to share experience, identify opportunities and build networks around policy engagement through dialogues, seminars and reports.

‘Policy engagement is more important than ever as communities, businesses and governments recognise and respond to the loss of biodiversity’, says Jasper. 

Catherine WheatleyDr Catherine Wheatley, Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging (WIN)/Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences 

Catherine will lead the development of capacity-building activities and resources to strengthen policy engagement by WIN colleagues in the Departments of Clinical Neurosciences, Psychiatry and Experimental Psychology.

Reacting to her appointment as an OPEN Leader, Catherine says, ‘I’m excited to use the opportunity as an OPEN Leader to enable more effective, mutually beneficial connections between neuroscience and health policy.’

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