School of Law Professor Adam Crawford is tackling civic policy challenges through communities of practice

Collaboration between universities and local governments is vital when developing local policy, but it isn’t always simple.

A new paper authored by Dr Nicola Carroll and the School of Law’s Professor Adam Crawford investigates research-policy engagement and reveals the factors that enable and constrain this process.

Their research was based on their 2020 Review of Collaboration – initiated and supported by the Leeds Social Sciences Institute (LSSI) –  which considers the longstanding collaboration between researchers at the University of Leeds and Leeds City Council officers.

The paper considers the potential benefits of a ‘community of practice’ approach to the exchange of civic knowledge, and the authors believe that:

‘Systematic cultivation of [communities of practice] between universities and local authorities offers potential to form a propitious nexus for extensive networks of research-policy collaborations involving citizens and stakeholders from across the public, private and community sectors. 

The paper has several key highlights:

  1. Austerity and the current devolution agenda stimulate an important need for a robust evidence-informed policies to address local challenges.
  2. The mapping exercise conducted as part of the review of collaboration between the University of Leeds and Leeds City Council revealed over 118 collaborations between the period of January 2015 and March 2020 working in diverse themes such as city development, housing and communities and environment.
  3. Co-producing research plays an important role in building an impactful research-policy collaboration.
  4. Availability of resources, time, bureaucratic hurdles and data sharing protocols are considered to be some of the barriers facing academics and council officers that hinders collaboration.
  5. Trust, positive personal relations and shared commitment are important pillars for enabling scholarly research to inform policy.

Professor Crawford’s work on fostering strong links between academic researchers and local policy-making stakeholders both contributes to and reflects the School of Law’s commitment to research with societal impacts.

Professor Crawford is the Co-Director of Vulnerability & Policing Futures Research Centre, is a member of Centre for Criminal Justice Studies and can be found on X/Twitter: @Crawford1Adam

He recently spoke to a delegation of staff and students from the law faculty of Universitas Sebelas Maret, one of the leading universities in Indonesia. Read more here: Exploring Global Legal Perspectives: A Visit from Universitas Sebelas Maret Law Faculty