A New Event with the RSA – 21st Century Policy Development

FuturICT Assyst


By Greg Fisher

Yesterday we announced that we will be hosting a set of discussions with the RSA focused on new thinking in the social sciences which is beginning to make its way in to public policy.  These new fields of research include network theory and the complexity sciences but they also include a host of new ways of understanding how people and societies co-evolve.  ASSYST and FuturICT are sponsoring the event.

The event, called 21st Century Policy Development will be held on 15 March at Central Hall, and will be followed by an evening reception at the Cinnamon Club, where Jesse Norman will be giving a short speech.

More details can be seen on our events page here or on the RSA’s events page here.  For those wishing to sign up, please visit our Eventbrite page here.


One of the legitimate questions many people have concerning the use of, for example, the complexity sciences in public policy is its relevance.  Most of the thinking concerning social complexity to date has resided in academia and it has largely been very abstract.  Very little has gotten out and influenced the real world of public policy.  To that end, we felt the event on 15 March should focus on practical examples of where these new fields of research have been employed in policy.  For example, Bridget Rosewell (Chief Economics Advisor to the Mayor of London) will be discussing how the decision to build Crossrail was supported by models that went well beyond conventional cost-benefit analysis: older models took no account of many things, including the “ripple effects” new stations had on local economies.  And Steve Broome (Director of Research at the RSA) will focus on their work in communities, noting the use of a complexity-inspired model by the Scottish parliament to develop its drug rehabilitation policy.

Professor Paul Ormerod, Professor Jamie MacIntosh, Professor Stephen Bishop, and Lord Julian Hunt will all be giving their perspective on these new fields of research, where they have been used in policy, and where they ought to be used in the future.  The day is designed in a modular way, so anybody can sign up to individual events and come and go as they please.

Another important principle for the day is interaction.  Each of the sessions will include a 15 minute presentation by a main speakers followed by a brief response by a respondent.  The remainder of each one hour session will then be devoted to a conversation about the relevance of these new approaches to policy.  The audience is invited to challenge the speakers and the respondents and, if appropriate, to draw on their own experiences and suggest areas for future development.

I hope to see you there.


Greg Fisher, Managing Director, Synthesis IPS

Follow us on Twitter! @synthesisips.  Note that the hashtag for this event will be #21CPD.


Leave a Reply