Public policy that works for people and society

Linking Cambridge’s world-leading research with policymaking to create an inclusive, equitable and sustainable world.

Public policy that works for people and society

The world is facing some of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century from climate change and global food security, to rising ethnic and religious divisions. They are exacerbated when set against short-termism in politics and business, resource scarcity and growing inequality.

These challenges are global in scope. Yet they do not look the same when seen from Asia, Africa, Latin America or the Middle East as they do from North America or Europe.

The technical solutions currently being applied do not take into account the economic, social and political structures and systems around the globe, and how these play out within politics and policymaking.

Policy for a changing world

The new Bennett Institute of Public Policy  was established in 2018 to rethink public policy in an era of turbulence and growing inequality. It is set apart from other policy centres by connecting the world-leading work in technology and science at Cambridge with a deep understanding of the social, economic and political contexts in which policy-making takes place.

Directors Professor Mike Kenny and Professor Diane Coyle have built a team of exceptional scholars, with real world policy experience, working alongside powerful new networks of policy makers and influencers. Through their outstanding research programmes, teaching, engagement events, publications and Bennett/Prospect Policy Prize, the Bennett Institute is already contributing to sustainable policy solutions and to building a new generation of reflexive and critical policy leaders.

Building on this success, we want to establish two bold, interdisciplinary programmes focused on policy challenges: policy and technology and health policy.

  • Public policy

Technology policy

Digital technologies have transformed the lives of people around the globe, but also demonstrated their potential for harm. How can we create policy environments where technology can enhance our lives, while citizens, communities and businesses are protected from harm?

Among the most fundamental questions for our time are those concerning the role of technology in shaping and reshaping our relationships with government.  How can policy-makers benefit from bringing cutting-edge science and technology into the heart of public policy-making and effective governance? What impact is confirmation bias in our on-line news access having on political discourses and communities, and what options are open to policy-makers? Is the digital revolution a watershed moment for politics as we know it, and can democracy survive?

A new Technology Policy Programme would build on existing strengths across the University and significant recent University investment. The University has a remarkable record in producing innovative thinkers in technology, and many academics hold dual roles spanning industry and academic research.The programme would provide a global forum for dialogue between key actors and incubate a major programme of impactful research and policy development.

Health policy

A growing body of economic evidence indicates the potential financial and social benefits of targeted forms of early intervention and screening programmes, and the techniques associated with behaviour change in areas such as food and alcohol consumption, smoking and inactivity.  The Institute team has significant research capacity in the definition, measurement and monitoring of economic progress. As part of our Health Policy Programme, public health interventions would be examined in the cultural, political and economic round.  Are they politically viable and how can they be delivered effectively? What kinds of financial, institutional and cultural innovation are required to achieve implementation of effective joined-up care systems for older citizens?

Devising better public policy in the absence of an understanding of political change and global diversities is at best frustrating and at worst futile. Working to ensure that does not happen is where Cambridge can make a difference.

Professor David Runciman, Head of the Department of Politics and International Studies

Help us advance policy solutions for the 21st century

Both programmes would be built around prestigious new professorships.  Additionally we are seeking funding for post-doctoral researchers and doctoral students to drive forward the research and funding for research and public engagement activities

These high-profile new programmes can be named as whole, or individual posts or studentships can be funded and named, either for a fixed term or in perpetuity.

There are also opportunities to support individual projects at a variety of levels, from citizen-led governance, to health, to promoting innovation in technology.

Next steps

If you would like to discuss your philanthropic goals or explore opportunities for partnership, please contact

Rosalind Griffin

Head of Development — Humanities and Social Sciences

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Help us reinforce the freedom of institutions, academics, researchers and students to follow their intellectual curiosity – something that has been at the heart of every transformative discovery in human history. The University's interdisciplinary research networks look at global challenges with fresh eyes, generating a steady stream of innovative ideas that lead to solutions to resolve them.