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Jonas Andreasen Lysgaard

Navigating the decade of impact - ESE Research-Policy relationships past, present and future

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The societal role of publicly funded universities has been changing dramatically in the last five decades. From an early status as elite institutions with a few percent of a generation attending to the mass university that is now the norm. This development has coincided with a radical change in the relationship between research and policy. From an early, very independent position, the general development has moved in the direction of ever-greater emphasis on efforts, from policy level to influence and guide the two main university activities of education and research in order to ensure maximum “performance” and “impact” of the money spend on universities. Through a focus on the general development in UK and Scandinavia and especially within the field now known as environmental and sustainability (ESE) research we argue that the nature of concepts used in order to measure research such as “performance” and “impact” has been changing since the introduction of performance based research funding systems in the 1980s. We argue that the norms behind these systems often originate within medicine and natural science research and slowly migrate into social, science and education leaving these fields 10-15 years behind in terms of the performance indicators. We argue that individual researchers, research units and even entire research fields should develop explicit two-pronged approaches to research with short term tactics addressing current understandings of “impact” or “performance” originating from policy, while also develop strategies in order to play the long game as ESE research agendas are only more likely to enter mainstream understanding of “impact” as e.g. Climate change and its consequences become more and more pressing during the coming decades.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
ISSN1350-4622
Publication statusIn preparation - 2019

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