Journal summary: Evidence & Policy is the first peer-reviewed journal dedicated to comprehensive and critical assessment of the relationship between research evidence and the concerns of policy makers and practitioners, as well as researchers. International in scope and interdisciplinary in focus, it addresses the needs of those who provide public services, and those who provide the research base for evaluation and development across a wide range of social and public policy issues – from social care to education, from public health to criminal justice. As well as more traditional research articles, the journal includes contemporary debate pieces, articles from practice and an invaluable sources and resources section.
Publisher: Policy Press (University of Bristol)
Access: Subscription; some open-access articles
Journal type: Academic peer-reviewed
I have finally got round to reading Anthony King and Ivor Crewe‘s excellent book, ‘The Blunders of our Governments‘. The examples are varied and relate in the main to policy implementation in health, economics, social security and political miscalculation or poor decision making in core Government departments. Some of it is truly jaw-dropping. Interestingly however there isn’t much from the cultural portfolio brief considered, beyond the inevitable lamentation on the building of the Millennium Dome. Perhaps that is because Government hiccups in the cultural arena tend to be treated as ‘controversies’ attracting public and press critique, rather than blunders. The latter sections of the analysis consider the forms of human error and system failures that cause blunders in Government – including cultural disconnects, group-think, what are referred to as ‘musical chairs’, asymmetries of expertise and a deficit of deliberation. Such underlying causes of blunders can be found in all types of organisation and programme delivery in the public sector – not just the big Government departments or projects, though often at a small scale, and so not necessarily on the radar of a study such as that undertaken by King and Crewe. However, the heritage sector and its organisations have seen such radical transformation in the last year both in England and Scotland, I wonder whether aspects of this structural change will turn out as successfully as hoped for. Will we be identifying heritage blunders in years to come? The most obvious candidates for close watching are the moving of the portfolio of historic properties into a separate English Heritage charity which is expected to become self-sustaining over the next 7 years (reliant on increased tourism receipts and commercial performance), and the emergent Historic Environment Scotland which merged Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland. As a long-standing studier of heritage organisation strategy – begun 21 years ago in my PhD which considered aspects of planning, strategy and operations within English Heritage and the National Trust (originally published as ‘Heritage Transformed‘) – the dynamics of heritage organisations and their operations remains as interesting and understudied as ever, and as the finances of the sector become ever more squeezed in the next few years and with a Culture White Paper for England on the horizon, we must be vigilant for blunders in the making.
Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy
Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy has been developed by the Scottish Strategic Archaeology Committee, coordinated by Historic Scotland, with input from over 200 people from across the archaeology sector in Scotland and beyond. It sets out a shared national vision that Scotland’s archaeology should benefit everyone in society.
It complements work that has been undertaken over the past few years by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, as part of the ScARF (Scotland’s Archaeological Research Framework), and puts in place a framework for the new national heritage organisation, Historic Environment Scotland, to support archaeology as an integral part of our lived and natural environment.
The next UCS heritage presentation and discussion will be on Tuesday 14th January at 4.30pm. It will be led by Greg Luton, the Planning & Development Director for English Heritage in the East of England Region. He’ll be providing the background on the recent announcement of proposed changes to the Government’s management of the historic environment and national heritage collection, currently undertaken by English Heritage.
Consultation documents have been issued by the Department for Culture, Media & Sport available here. Seminar attendees are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the proposals, and come armed with questions and points for debate.
If you’d like to attend, please register with Julie Barber email: firstname.lastname@example.org / 01473 338181