On 24th May 2019, the Wales Centre for Public Policy and the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) organised a conference called ‘Welsh Policy and Politics in Unprecedented Times’ which brought together 45 academics, practitioners and policy-makers to discuss present and future challenges facing Wales, notably in relation to Brexit and the new devolution of powers. Several conference attendees shared their thoughts on the conference:
Daniel Roberts (PhD student, Swansea University): “Attending and presenting at the Unprecedented Wales Conference was a fantastic experience. As a PhD student, being able to present my research to an audience of experts from a range of different disciplines was hugely beneficial. It allowed me to gain new perspectives of my framework, data, and emerging conclusions from renowned figures in Welsh academia, politics, and the third sector. It was also a fantastic opportunity to network and meet people I would not otherwise have come across – and from this, plans for further collaboration are already in place. I look forward to attending similar events in the future.”
Rhiannon Heledd Williams (Welsh Affairs Specialist, UK House of Commons): “The conference was very well-organised with a variety of speakers, and the staff were welcoming. There was an appropriate balance of presenting and discussion. The papers provided an overview of the issues facing Wales today, and as a specialist for the Welsh Affairs Committee at the House of Commons, they encouraged me to think about future possible inquiries. The papers also provided a broad scope and context, whilst also highlighting more detailed case studies, which provided a good basis to explore issues within a local and national framework. I hope a similar conference will be organised soon, as there is a shortage of conferences focusing on politics in Wales specifically, a discussion void that needs to be filled.”
Bob Smith (Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Cardiff University): “This was not only a chance to present some of my own work and get constructive and critical feedback from different relevant perspectives beyond my own policy field, but also an opportunity to discover much more about the breadth of excellent research being undertaken in Wales on politics and public policy. A wide cross section of academics, policy makers and practitioners from a diverse set of backgrounds made for fascinating debate and discussion around some shared themes (evidence needs, research methods and theories, and the challenges of policy development). The event certainly gave me pause for thought in terms of my own work. More importantly, 20 years on from political devolution, this was a conference offering thought-provoking work which really ought to impact positively on public policy development in Wales.”
Matt Wall (Associate Professor in Politics, Swansea University): “As the Director of the WISERD Politics and Governance Research Network, I was delighted with the way that the event came together. I was particularly impressed with the wide number of organisations and practitioners who participated. One of the key goals of the network, which was founded in September 2018, was to bring academic researchers together with key stakeholders in the Welsh policy community. This conference delivered in spades on that objective, and I saw many connections being forged both during and between the various talks. The Wales Centre for Public Policy should be lauded for taking the lead on this conference, as should members of staff at WISERD and my colleague at Swansea University, Dr Bettina Petersohn, who were central to coordinating many aspects of the event.”
The Wales Centre for Public Policy will look to organise a similar event next year with WISERD.