Matthew Ponsford, London National Park City Volunteer Ranger

This blog post is part of the ‘Where we live next’ series that examines people-powered environmental sustainability policy solutions by amplifying a range of diverse voices and perspectives in the environmental policy space.

During the past year’s lockdowns, for many homebound Londoners, summertime escapes to traditional parks have been followed by a winter of regimented daily journeys for exercise or groceries, and a new appreciation for any local space — no matter how small — of things that are alive, growing and changing. Spring 2020 could hardly have been a more difficult time for the inaugural team of London National…


A provocation paper

Dr Abigail Hackett and Professor Maggie MacLure, Manchester Metropolitan University

Introduction

Young children’s language development has long been the focus of policy anxiety and intervention, regarded as evidence of the “proper” development of the child and a predictor of future educational and economic success. But are we looking in the right place for the early signs of language development? In nurseries and other early years settings, the focus tends to be on the acquisition of vocabulary, on the ability to name things, and on being able to take part in simple interactions with adults. Children as young as two years old…


A provocation paper

Professor Aoife Nolan, Professor of International Human Rights Law, University of Nottingham

Introduction

Sustainable development — development ‘that meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’[i] — is a pressing issue for policymakers, civil society and academics whose work focuses on children. This includes the international children’s rights sector. The key global framework is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015.

References to children abound in that agenda, with ‘almost all of the Sustainable Development Goals proper [having] targets that refer explicitly…


Students at Newham Collegiate Sixth Form queue to receive their A-Level results in London, August 2020. Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP via Getty Images.

In summer 2020, Ofqual, the body responsible for regulating the award of general qualifications in England, put in place arrangements to enable grades for GCSEs, A levels and BTECs to be awarded in the absence of the normal end-of-course exams being able to take place because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The outcomes of this process, which relied heavily on the infamous algorithm or statistical model, led to much confusion and distress as pupils received grades sometimes many levels below those they had anticipated. …


This blog draws on a discussion held on 21 September 2020, jointly hosted by the Royal Society’s Living Landscapes programme and the British Academy, as part of a new programme of work on environmental sustainability, Where We Live Next. The discussion covered some of the key challenges around changing rural land use in the UK and considered which stakeholders and decision-making structures, both locally and nationally, are necessary for a just transition.

Photo by Mike Kemp / In Pictures via Getty Images

The local is not confined to immediate surroundings. It is the arena of belonging, of feeling alive and in touch, and of caring and sharing with neighbours. The…


A new sustainability blog series from the British Academy

A man and woman sit on a bench in Norton Park, Sheffield, May 2020. Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP via Getty Images.

“Places matter to people. They shape the way we live our lives, feel about ourselves and the relationships we have with others. Moreover places — not least because of their history, character and physical form — contribute significantly to personal and societal wellbeing.”

– from the British Academy Where we live now report

The UK has the potential to be a global leader on environmental sustainability, having set ambitious targets for net zero carbon emissions. …


A provocation paper

Professor Susan Golombok FBA

Introduction

“What I’d like other people to know about my family is that we’re a happy family — we’re all really happy and joyful.” Mike, 9, child of a transgender parent.

New family forms, made possible by advances in assisted reproduction and changing social attitudes, have challenged popular myths and assumptions about the superiority of the traditional family in fostering children’s psychological adjustment. …


Judy Ling Wong CBE. Honorary President Black Environment Network

This blog post draws on a discussion held on 21 September 2020, jointly hosted by the Royal Society’s Living Landscapes programme and the British Academy, as part of a new programme of work on environmental sustainability, Where We Live Next. The discussion covered some of the key challenges around changing rural land use in the UK and considered which stakeholders and decision-making structures, both locally and nationally, are necessary for a just transition.

Someone as unconventional as the flamenco and Morris-dancing Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, a self-made Black farming millionaire, is not so much a role model as a flamboyant exception in…


A provocation paper

Dr Aude Le Guennec, Assistant Professor in Design studies / Fashion Anthropology, Heriot-Watt University, School of Textiles and Design

Introduction

In one corner of the classroom stands a rail where fancy dresses are hanging. Their shiny, glittery materials appeal to the sparkly eyes of the dreamy pupils. Suddenly, all the stories to be imagined jump to their constantly stimulated minds. Learning through play invites itself into the classrooms. The creative child, as modelled by Maria Montessori[i] is constantly interacting with everyday material culture. Children manipulate, create, dream and, through their activities and games, reveal their spontaneous approach to the world. …


A provocation paper

Professor Jonathan Bradshaw FBA, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, University of York

Child poverty in the UK is increasing and on present policies will increase further, sweeping away all the reduction achieved up to 2010. This is happening, despite unemployment being at a record low and real wages at the bottom of the distribution improving. Since 2010, £40 billion has been taken out of the working age social security budget, and the main driver of child poverty are these cuts to benefits and services.

Poverty affects child outcomes. Infant mortality increased in the last two years for the first time…

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