Welcome from the WISERD director

As we reach the midpoint of our five-year ESRC Civil Society Centre, all our civil society projects are now well underway and a number of longstanding projects are reaching completion. So it is timely that this edition of WISERD News highlights our contribution to social science research and the ways in which we are influencing policy in Wales.

We continue to use innovative methods to investigate the issues that are most relevant to society. For example, using sophisticated GIS networking tools, our team at the University of South Wales has been analysing how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected bus services across Wales.

This work coincided with Senedd announcements concerning the future of Welsh bus services and a public transport white paper. This is just one of the ways in which our existing research has evolved to address current societal problems, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and, most recently, the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

The start of this year saw the Cardiff WISERD team move to sbarc I spark, a new state-of-the-art building where researchers are able to work alongside entrepreneurs and student start-ups. Our blog post, ‘Sparking Connectivity’, gives a valuable insight into what this signifies for the future of social science research.

It’s great to see WISERD colleagues achieving recognition for their expertise in areas that include devolution and welfare, labour markets and the constitutional future of Wales. In addition to the articles featured, I’m pleased to report that Professor Sally Power has also been elected to sit on the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Council.

Finally, after a two-year pause, we’re delighted to be hosting an in-person Annual Conference once again, this time at Swansea University’s Bay Campus. This year’s theme is ‘Civil society and participation: issues of equality, identity and cohesion in a changing social landscape’. We look forward to welcoming our keynote speakers, Professor Mererid Hopwood from Aberystwyth University and Dr Victoria Winckler, director of the Bevan Foundation.

I hope you enjoy this issue of WISERD News.

Professor Ian Rees Jones
WISERD director