I am currently one of the two lecturers in Public Policy in the Division of History and Politics. My expertise lies in prevention policy, policymaking in the devolved UK, and public sector reform. My current research focuses on the manner in which 'prevention' is articulated as a broad policy 'philosophy', the reasons why its effective implementation continues to elude policymakers across different sectors, and how prevention policy might more effectively be designed and delivered. This research agenda fits into the Horizon2020 research programme seeking to develop Integrative Mechanisms for Addressing Spatial Justice and Territorial Inequalities in Europe (IMAGINE). I have prior experience as a policy consultant and researcher working to support the Welsh Government as a member of the Public Policy Institute for Wales, based at the University of Cardiff (http://ppiw.org.uk/). During my time at the PPIW I focused on how policy is made and delivered in Wales, especially in areas such as health and social policy. In particular, I explored the policy levers (formal and informal) available to Welsh policymakers seeking to address complex and boundary-spanning issues in the evolving context of devolution.My current research agenda also draws on my previous experience as a research fellowship with the Centre on Constitutional Change, based at the University of Edinburgh, where I investigated the policy-making process in Scotland. The aim of my research at the CCC was to explore the extent to which policies and the decision-making process is distinctive in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK. It uses the emergence of the 'prevention' agenda in Scotland as a lens through which to view putative claims of a 'Scottish approach' to policymaking. The results of that research will be the topic of an upcoming book on 'prevention policy' published with the Open University Press.
In keeping with my research interests, I currently convene two honours modules on 'policy and politics in Scotland' (fall) and 'comparative public policy' (spring). I also co-teach the Masters in Public Policy with Professor Paul Cairney.
My research interests span the breadth of empirical and theoretical public policy inquiry but primarily fall into four broad categories. 1. The first category concerns policy-making in the context of the devolved UK. This includes, but isn't limited to, questions concerning historical policy-making patterns across Scotland Wales, and the rest of the UK - especially areas of divergence and convergence; as well as the role political institutions play in shaping decision-making and policy outcomes across the UK. 2. The second category concerns questions of gender and policy and how each structures and shapes the other. My doctoral research examined the role of ideas in shaping contemporary French prostitution policy. As such, I am interested in issues including sex work/prostitution policy in a comparative perspective, feminist policy theory - especially feminist institutionalism - and the methodological implications of researching vulnerable populations.3. The third category concerns policymaking and politics in France. I currently convene the Political Studies Association network on French politics and policy, alongside Dr Brenoit Dillet and Prof Nick Startin from Bath. My interests here lay in the historical study of policy processes in France in the post-War era.
Finally, my commitment to developing a research-informed teaching practice has led me to develop an ongoing research project looking at how public policy is taught in the UK and what might be done to improve PP students' employability and transferable skills in light of the new and emerging needs across government and the public sector. I conduct research on teaching and assessment in public policy across undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.
Cairney P, Russell S & St Denny E (2016) The ‘Scottish approach’ to policy and policymaking: what issues are territorial and what are universal?., Policy and Politics, 44 (3), pp. 333-350. https://doi.org/10.1332/030557315X14353331264538.