Posts Tagged 'University of Bristol'

What is the future of social justice? A Policy Press event

Answers to this question were offered at the Policy Press The Future of Social Justice event held on Monday 5th December in association with the Bristol Festival of Ideas.

The Great Hall in the University of Bristol’s Will’s Memorial Building was packed with over 800 audience members who heard Danny Dorling, Owen Jones, Kayleigh Garthwaite and Melissa Benn speak about the most significant successes, challenges and opportunities for social justice.

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The exciting event began with the official launch of University of Bristol Press by Professor Hugh Brady, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bristol.

Inspiring contributions from the speakers followed, expertly chaired by Alison Shaw, Director of Policy Press and University of Bristol Press.

Amongst the many points made, Melissa Benn focused on segregation in schools and the way this feeds into a lack of understanding and knowledge about others. Danny Dorling examined housing policy, highlighting the urgent need for rent control. Kayleigh Garthwaite highlighted that allowing charity to become ‘normal’ and acceptable is not the way forward. Finally, Owen Jones reminded us that we need a collective thought process in order to solve collective issues. One of the key message of the evening was that we need to step out of the ‘bubble’ and into communities.

2016 has been a dark year but this event inspired optimism and hope. What will we say to future generations when they ask what we did at at time like this? It’s time to come together and be active in our opposition to injustice.


Didn’t get a chance to attend? You can listen to the event in full on Soundcloud here.

Read Danny Dorling’s full speech on the housing crisis and hope for the future from the event.

Read Kayleigh Garthwaite’s full speech on foodbanks and why we need a new conversation about poverty.

Keep up-to-date with Policy Press/University of Bristol Press news and events by signing up to our newsletter. Subscribers also receive a code for 35% discount on all our books.

2016: a good year for publishing with a purpose

It’s rare that there’s something positive to say about 2016, given the recent political upheaval, but we’re thankful that it has been a good year for Policy Press.

Alison Shaw

Alison Shaw

We celebrated 20 years, won an Independent Publishers Guild award and are about to host a high-profile Festival of Ideas event. Most significantly, October saw the announcement of the new University of Bristol Press, an exciting new venture in collaboration with the University of Bristol.

Here, Director Alison Shaw explains the developments, highlights key moments from 2016 and describes what they mean to her.

Creating the University of Bristol Press


The formation of University of Bristol Press (UBP) is the beginning of an exciting new era. When I created Policy Press (PP) 20 years ago I never dreamed that we would have achieved so much. UBP represents a wonderful recognition of our team’s achievements, and an opportunity to take what we have learned into new disciplines.

With the creation of UBP we will be able to expand into new areas – economics, politics and international development, business and management and law – whilst continuing our commitment to high quality scholarship and author care. We will also be expanding our publishing in sociology, criminology and social geography under UBP, keeping the Policy Press imprint focused on social problems and social action.

“…new opportunities for our authors and their work.”

The world has changed dramatically since 1996. The world of scholarly research dissemination, teaching and learning especially has changed and, with UBP, we can help support the international academic community through these developments. Flexible formats, Open Access and digital developments are all roads we are travelling down, allowing us to offer new opportunities for our authors and their work.

We are delighted to be part of the thriving University Press sector here in the UK. I believe there is a resurgence in support for University Presses, both among scholars and educational institutions, as publishers from within the scholarly community working for the scholarly community. It is extremely important to me that we continue to operate as a not-for-profit press focused on this community and not shareholders.

The social mission at the heart of what we do


I was not shocked by Brexit or by the election of Donald Trump. I am afraid the work we publish led me to predict that both votes would happen. I believe that when people see their standard of living fall and no clear future ahead, they retract into their own communities and fear those that are ‘other’ than themselves.  There are many other factors behind both votes, but the outcome is the that the ‘left behind’ in our globalised world have made their voices heard.

I am equally unsurprised by the continued lack of care for the most vulnerable in our society we saw with the announcements in last Wednesday’s autumn statement. The gap between rich and poor is ever growing and policy, unfortunately, continues to benefit the better off. In these cruel times of austerity and political turmoil, we will continue our ongoing commitment to social change through our publishing under the Policy Press imprint.

“I was not shocked by Brexit or by the election of Donald Trump.”

Making a difference and finding ways for research to reach an audience where it can help policy and practice to address social issues and improve individual’s lives has remained fundamental to the development of the business. Policy Press will keep its focus on these social action aspects where UBP will focus on the more traditional scholarly work across all the core social science disciplines.

Winning the IPG award


Winning the IPG Frankfurt Bookfair Independent Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year award was a turning point for Policy Press.

This recognition by our industry means so much to me, and to the team. It means that all the hard work over 20 years incrementally building a business from its tiny start was a goal worth pursuing.

It says ‘thank you’ to the amazing authors, editors and partners that we work with and without whom we could not have won the award. It also shows that the faith the University of Bristol has shown in us has been repaid a little.

Why we’re hosting ‘The Future of Social Justice’ event


On 5 December we are hosting ‘The future of social justice’ event in Bristol, with Melissa Benn, Danny Dorling, Kayleigh Garthwaite and Owen Jones speaking. It’s a huge privilege to bring together these speakers and the general public in a debate that I’m sure will present some hope for the future.

This will also be the final event in our 20 year celebrations and the official launch of University of Bristol Press by Professor Hugh Brady, University of Bristol Vice-Chancellor and President.

And the future?

I am optimistic about the future for publishing and fundamentally believe that if we continue to publish great quality books and journals well, University of Bristol Press and Policy Press will continue to go from strength to strength. We will be there to help researchers, teachers and professionals to get their work read and used.

“Every single book or journal article we publish educates and, in so doing, has the potential to change the world”

Over the next few years the team is going to grow significantly, with new staff from commissioning to marketing and sales. This will bring exciting new opportunities for creative collaboration and product development as we become stronger in our existing subject areas and emerge in those that are new. Policy Press, as an imprint, is now in a better place than ever to produce books that can really make a difference.

Every single book or journal article we publish educates and, in so doing, has the potential to change the world a tiny bit. That’s the beauty of publishing – particularly academic publishing – and of being a press dedicated to making a positive difference.

It’s in this that a more hopeful, socially just, future lies.

Keep up-to-date with developments at Policy Press/University of Bristol Press by signing up to our newsletter. You will also receive a code that gives you 35% off all our books when ordered at

Policy Press celebrates 20 years of publishing with a purpose… style!

Policy Press officially celebrated our 20th Anniversary of ‘publishing with a purpose’ on Wednesday 22nd June with a party at Goldney Hall, University of Bristol. It was a wonderful evening at which we were joined by authors, staff, and supporters – both past and present. 


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With special thanks to Ruth Harrison, Victoria Pittman and Julia Mortimer for the photographs of the evening. Continue reading ‘Policy Press celebrates 20 years of publishing with a purpose… style!’

What I learned from volunteering for Policy Press….

Jennifer Bell, English Literature MA student at the University of Bristol, has just spent the past eight months volunteering at Policy Press as part of the Editorial Commissioning team. Today is (sadly!) her last day with us. 

Jen’s learned that ‘it takes a village to raise a book’, there’s more to Friday’s than cake (really?!) and she tells us how the experience has influenced her future career plans. Read on for more insights….

Jennifer BellHow did you hear about volunteering at Policy Press?
I heard about the volunteer scheme run by Policy Press from my department at the University of Bristol. Continue reading ‘What I learned from volunteering for Policy Press….’

‘The Education Debate’: a review of The Policy Press’s roundtable event

Lorenza Antonucci

Lorenza Antonucci

With education taking a prominent position in public debates, The Policy Press’s choice of dedicating a roundtable of Thinking Futures (the Festival of Social Science and Law of the University of Bristol) to ‘The Education Debate’ was a particularly timely one. The event saw lively participation from the audience, stimulated by the pertinent questions of the chair Alison Shaw (Director of The Policy Press) and the concise and straight-to-the-point interventions of the three speakers: Professor Rosamund Sutherland (Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol), Professor Stephen Ball (Institute of Education, University of London) and Annie Hudson (Strategic Director, Children & Young People’s Services, Bristol City Council).

While the format covered a wide range of topics in education, one issue became the overarching focus of the discussion: the social role of education. As Janette Finch wrote back in 1984, educational institutions, beyond their pedagogic function, are de facto involved in delivering social provisions and addressing the social needs of the pupils. In this respect, Annie Hudson’s intervention underlined how schools can make a difference, for example, in their use of the ‘Pupil Premium’, a specific tool available to schools to address the needs of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. In Hudson’s words it became apparent how life inside and outside schools is profoundly interconnected. Sutherland’s intervention reminded us of the precise role of education: the idea that children should gain knowledge in school that they would not get from anywhere else, in particular not from their family – what Doyal and Gough called the human need of ‘critical autonomy’. Sutherland remarked also on the declining potential of schools in facilitating social change, testified by the gap in achievement between children in middle class families and children eligible for free school meals. Ball put forward a slightly different perspective around the idea that inequality is implicated in the overall economy and social structures – and, therefore, there is an issue of what schools can effectively do within this system. Drawing on his critical approach to education, Ball supported the idea of a systematic (almost inevitable) disadvantage within education policy.

Here the debate touched upon a crucial issue in contemporary education: should we use education policy to address inequality or should we abandon this idea to support more radical changes in our social structures? The divergence came up again in discussing  the relationship between higher education and social mobility, an issue which seemed to attract great interest from the audience. Here, Ball is clearly opposed to the policy idea of putting more people into higher education to improve their employment outcomes. Ball strongly affirmed that higher education plays no role for social mobility and that the social mobility experienced by the baby boomers’ generation was rather generated by the creation of public employment. On this point, Sutherland still supported the idea of a social function of education, insisting on the principle that the choice to enter in higher education should still be possible for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Some questions which came up in the discussion keep on haunting me: is there a contradiction between the centralisation of the National Curriculum and the fragmentation of educational provisions at the local level? Can we combine Sutherland’s idea on the social role of education with Ball’s scepticism? Even if education cannot improve the social position of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, can we still address the social expectations of those students who embark on educational routes?

In the end, like in every good debate, we go home with more questions than definitive answers – the ‘debate after the debate’ can continue on Twitter in the hashtag #educationdebate.

Lorenza Antonucci, PhD researcher, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol. Lorenza has been awarded the first Policy Press studentship for her research on student welfare and well-being in higher education in Sweden, Italy and England.

Wikipedia: should academics be involved?

Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, spoke today at the University of Bristol in an event held by the Bristol Festival of Ideas. Several of us from the Policy Press attended, along with 700 others and 3000 watching a live webcast. It was his only public lecture in the UK, timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Wikipedia and an exciting event to be a part of.

Jimmy started with a few comments about the purpose of Wikipedia – free access to knowledge for all – and revealed that it is now the fifth most popular website in the world with over 408m visitors each month. Articles are written in around 200 languages, with articles in English making up less than 20% of the total. Wikipedia employs only around 50 people, but has around 100,000 volunteer editors, 87% of whom are male with an average age of 26. Part of his mission is to widen participation by encouraging more women and a wider variety of age groups to participate. He spoke of a generation for whom an encyclopedia is “something like Wikipedia” rather than the other way around.

After his lively and interesting talk, Jimmy took questions both from the floor and those watching the webcast. In answer to a question about whether universities should allow Wikipedia to be used as a resource, he spoke of the need for more academic editors to contribute to Wikipedia and the importance of quality in the articles. It would be great to hear your thoughts about this – is Wikipedia a useful resource for students and academics, or should it be best avoided? And should academics get involved in editing it, or concentrate on other forms of information dissemination?

Kathryn King, Marketing Manager, The Policy Press

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