The Academy’s strategic review: an invitation to Fellows to submit thoughts

19 November 2019

Dear Fellows

I am pleased to inform you that the Academy has commenced a review of its strategy. This is in response to the opportunities and threats facing the social sciences sector at this time of change and uncertainty in wider social, economic and political contexts and in higher education. We wish to identify and focus on key priorities in line with our charitable purpose, and in so doing to grow our work and extend our impact. The strategy will guide our work from mid 2020 to the end of 2023.

As part of our consultation, we are especially keen to hear thoughts from our 1400 Fellows, both at this early stage and later, in Spring 2020, when we have an initial draft of our objectives and priorities. I hope you will take the opportunity to help shape our direction.

The Academy’s charitable purpose is ‘the promotion of social science in the UK for public benefit’.  As a charity our work has to fall within this purpose, and must meet the public benefit criteria. In this context, ‘promotion’ can be interpreted broadly, from PR to furthering social science and its application; and ’public’ means benefit to audiences beyond the Fellowship. While the latter may (but need not) include the general public, it can also focus on more specific audiences, such as the policy community, the wider professional community, the business community, schools and universities, students etc.

The Academy has limited reserves, and any substantive new areas of work we undertake will require new resourcing in one form or another. Thus, our aspirations can be ambitious but should also be tempered by realism.

The Executive Committee (Roger Goodman, Bobby Duffy, Rita Gardner, Andrew Jones, and Jil Matheson), which is leading this process, welcomes thoughts, please, on some or all of the following questions, or any other initial comments you wish to make. Please send your views by email to [email protected] clearly marked in the subject line ‘Academy strategy’. If these can reach me please by 12 December that would be really helpful. Please note this email address will only be used for strategy communications.

At this stage our questions are:

  1. What outcome(s) do you consider to be the most important for the Academy to achieve, or be working substantively towards achieving, over the next three years, and why?
  2. How can we better engage our Fellows and their expertise – in a resource-effective way for Fellows and our lean administrative team – in promoting social science?
  3. Three of the Academy’s unique strengths are:
      • its span across the breadth of the social sciences;
      • its close association with 45 member learned societies and professional bodies in social science; and
      • the inclusion of academic and other professional sectors within its Fellowship and remit.
        How should we play to these strengths in order to ‘promote’ social science and support our academic and wider professional communities in so doing?
  4. If we were to do one or two new activities – what should they be?  And what should we do less of?

Please feel free to send any other thoughts you have too.


I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes




Dr Rita Gardner CBE FAcSS
Chief Executive
The Academy of Social Sciences