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Challenges of Experimental government and Public policy series




'How to deal with public health crises in humanitarian and conflict zones'

Friday 5th October 2018 | 5pm | 17 Mill Lane, Room B

Professor Paul Spiegel (Johns Hopkins University, Director of the Centre for Humanitarian Health) and Dr Oliver Morgan (WHO)

Dr Spiegel is a physician by training, is internationally recognized for his research on preventing and responding to complex humanitarian emergencies. Before becoming Center for Humanitarian Health Director, Paul was the deputy director of the Division of Programme Management and Support Services for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Prior to joining the UN in 2002, Paul worked as a medical epidemiologist in the International Emergency and Refugee Health Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He also worked as a medical coordinator with Médecins Sans Frontières and Médecins du Monde in refugee emergencies, as well as a consultant for numerous organizations.

Dr. Oliver Morgan is the Director of the Health Emergency Information and Risk Assessment Department in the WHO Health Emergencies Program. From 2007 through 2016, Dr. Morgan worked for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during which time he held critical leadership positions in the Ebola response between November 2014 and February 2016 (CDC Atlanta Ebola Response Incident Manger and CDC Country Director in Sierra Leone).

From March 2010 to October 2014, Dr. Morgan was the CDC Country Director in the Dominican Republic. Dr. Morgan was an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer at CDC from 2007 to 2009 with the International Emerging Infections Program, during which time he conducted projects in Thailand, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, and Guatemala. Before joining CDC, Dr. Morgan worked for the UK Health Protection Agency, leading epidemiological investigations of outbreaks (enteric, vaccine preventable, hospital acquired, zoonotic, respiratory, and sexually acquired infections), chemical and radiation exposure incidents, terrorist bombings in London, natural disasters, and humanitarian civil conflicts.

Dr. Morgan has also worked as a consultant to WHO/PAHO in several countries. Dr. Morgan’s academic achievements include a doctorate in epidemiology from Imperial College London and extensive publication in peer reviewed journals and reference books. 


'Working in international diplomacy: insights from the frontline'

Thursday October 11th 2018 | 5pm | 17 Mill Lane, Room B

Caroline Vent (Humanitarian Affairs, UK Mission to the United Nations at Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

Caroline Vent is a Humanitarian Adviser, Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations (New York). Caroline joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 2003, serving in Afghanistan, Syria and Lebanon. Before taking up her current role, she worked in the Middle East and North Africa Directorate at the Department for International Development in London. In her current role, Caroline's responsibilities include working with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to promote an effective humanitarian response, and negotiating UN resolutions on humanitarian assistance and the humanitarian situation in contexts like Syria, Yemen, and South Sudan. Caroline has a degree in English Literature and Language from Keble College, Oxford.


'Designing and implementing public policies: an insider’s perspective'

Wednesday 17th October 2018 | 5pm | 17 Mill Lane, Room B

Dame Professor Carol Black (Principal, Newnham College) and Donna Sanderson (Director of the Children, Families and Disadvantage Directorate, Department for Work and Pensions)

Professor Dame Carol Black DBE, FRCP, FMedSci is Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge and Expert Adviser on Health and Work to NHS England and Public Health England. She chairs the board of Think Ahead, the Government’s fast-stream training programme for Mental Health Social Workers, the Board of Nuffield Health and Corporate Services Ltd and the Institute of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science. She is a member of the Bevan Commission on health in Wales, the board of UK Active, Rand Europe’s Council of Advisers, the Strategy Board for the Defence National Rehabilitation Centre, and the Advisory Board of Step up to Serve.

As Principal of Newnham College, Dame Carol is on several committees in Cambridge University, for example the Equality and Diversity Committee, the Advisory Board of the Centre for Science and Public Policy, and the Health and Wellbeing Working Group, and she chairs the Colleges Committee’s Working Group on Bursaries for Home and EU undergraduates.  She is a Deputy Vice-Chancellor, patron of the Women’s Leadership Centre in the Judge Business School, and a member of the University’s Leadership Network. Dame Carol has compiled three independent reviews for the UK Government. As National Director for Health and Work (2006-11) she completed in 2008 a review of the health of the population of working age, which led to a revised medical certificate of sickness; and in November 2011 she completed as Co-Chair an independent review of sickness absence in Britain whose recommendations have mostly been put in place.  Her latest independent review, of employment outcomes of addiction to drugs or alcohol, or obesity, and the benefits system, was published in December 2016 and is gradually being implemented.


'The Debate about RCTs in Development is over. We won. They lost'

Friday 19th October 2018 | 5pm | 17 Mill Lane, Room B

Professor Lant Pritchett (Harvard University / Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University)

There has been a debate in development economics over the last 20 years as some claimed the use of RCTs as a tool for independent impact evaluation would significantly improve development practice and hence development. While right about the methodological claims about the superiority of randomization to produce cleaner estimates of the LATE (local average treatment effect) of projects and programs, this, in and of itself, does not change development practice. All of the five claims needed to sustain a positive model in which RCT/IIE has a major positive impact are demonstrably false. The proponents of RCTs have responded to losing the first round decisively by changing significantly both their claims and their practice.

Lant Pritchett is a Professor of the Practice of International Development at the Harvard Kennedy School. He will be moving in 2018 to Oxford's Blavatnik School of Government where he is working on a large research project on how to improve systems of basic education in developing countries.


‘How to rig an election’ 

Thursday 25th October 2018 | 5pm | 17 Mill Lane, Room B

Professor Nic Cheeseman (Professor of Democracy at the University of Birmingham) and Dr Brian Klass (Fellow in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics)

Nic Cheeseman (@Fromagehomme) is Professor of Democracy at the University of Birmingham and was formerly the Director of the African Studies Centre at Oxford University. He is the recipient of the GIGA award for the best article in Comparative Area Studies (2013) and the Frank Cass Award for the best article in Democratization (2015). He is also the author of Democracy in Africa: Successes, failures and the struggle for political reform (Cambridge University Press, 2015), the founding editor of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics, a former editor of the journal African Affairs, and an advisor to, and writer for, Kofi Annan's African Progress Panel.

Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) is a Fellow in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics. Klaas is an expert on democracy, authoritarianism, American politics, and elections. He is the author of The Despot's Apprentice: Donald Trump's Attack on Democracy, The Despot's Accomplice: How the West is Aiding & Abetting the Decline of Democracy, and How to Rig an Election (co-authored with Professor Nic Cheeseman; Yale University Press 2018). Klaas is also a columnist for The Washington Post.



BOOK LAUNCH: ‘Someone to Talk to’ (Oxford University Press) – ‘Loneliness, social isolation and public policy’.

Tuesday 6th November 2018 | 5pm | Judge Business School, Sainsbury Wing seminar rooms TBC

Professor Mario Luis Small (Harvard University, Department of Sociology)

Mario L. Small, Ph.D., Grafstein Family Professor at Harvard University, is the author of award-winning books and articles on networks, poverty, organizations, culture, methods, neighborhoods, institutions, and other topics. He is currently using large-scale administrative data to understand isolation in cities, studying how people use their networks to meet their needs, and exploring the epistemological foundations of qualitative research. His latest book is Someone To Talk To (Oxford). A study of how people decide whom to approach when seeking support, the book is an inquiry into human nature, a critique of network analysis, and a discourse on the role of qualitative research in the big-data era.

Someone to Talk to: Overview

When people are facing difficulties, they often feel the need for a confidant-a person to vent to or a sympathetic ear with whom to talk things through. How do they decide on whom to rely? In theory, the answer seems obvious: if the matter is personal, they will turn to a spouse, a family member, or someone close. In practice, what people actually do often belies these expectations. In Someone To Talk To, Mario L. Small follows a group of graduate students as they cope with stress, overwork, self-doubt, failure, relationships, children, health care, and poverty. He unravels how they decide whom to turn to for support. And he then confirms his findings based on representative national data on adult Americans. Small shows that rather than consistently rely on their "strong ties," Americans often take pains to avoid close friends and family, as these relationships are both complex and fraught with expectations. In contrast, they often confide in "weak ties," as the need for understanding or empathy trumps their fear of misplaced trust. In fact, people may find themselves confiding in acquaintances and even strangers unexpectedly, without having reflected on the consequences. Someone To Talk To reveals the often counter-intuitive nature of social support, helping us understand questions as varied as why a doctor may hide her depression from friends, how a teacher may come out of the closet unintentionally, why people may willingly share with others their struggle to pay the rent, and why even competitors can be among a person's best confidants. Amid a growing wave of big data and large-scale network analysis, Small returns to the basic questions of who we connect with, how, and why, upending decades of conventional wisdom on how we should think about and analyze social networks.

For more information about Mario please click here.


‘Punch & Judy Politics: An Insiders' Guide to Prime Minister’s Questions’

Thursday 15th November 2018 | 5pm | 17 Mill Lane, Room B

Ayesha Hazarika and Tom Hamilton

Ayesha Hazarika MBE was a special adviser to Gordon Brown, Harriet Harman and Ed Miliband from 2007 to 2015. She is now a much sought after political commentator and broadcaster. She is a columnist for the London Evening Standard and The Scotsman and writes for many other national publications. She frequently appears on television and radio including the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Newsnight, Sky News, Good Morning Britain, LBC and CNN where she’s a regular pundit on domestic and international affairs. Ayesha is also a stand-up comedian and last year completed a successful nationwide tour of her show State of the Nation about power, politics and how we lost the plot. Her first book was published in May. ‘Punch and Judy Politics’ is a history and insider’s guide to the art of Prime Minister’s Questions.

Tom Hamilton worked as a policy specialist, speechwriter and political adviser for ten years after completing a PhD in theology and having no idea what to do with it. He was head of research for the Labour Party and helped to prepare Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman and Jeremy Corbyn for PMQs between 2010 and 2016, spending more of his life pretending to be David Cameron than he ever expected. As a Labour staffer, he worked on three general election campaigns, none of which Labour won.


‘Language Policy and National Politics: Reflections on the Rise of Israeli "New Right" and the Erasure of Arabic as an Official Language’

Friday January 18th 2019 | 5pm | 17 Mill Lane, Room B

Yonatan Mendel is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Yonatan Mendel is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and the Director of Manarat: The Center for Jewish-Arab Relations at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. His research interests include the sociology of language, language policy in Israel/Palestine and more generally in the Middle East, the politics of Arabic-Hebrew translation, and the status and history of the Arabic language in Israel/Palestine. Mendel is the author of The Creation of Israeli Arabic: Security and Political Consideration in the Making of Arabic Studies in Jewish Schools (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), co-author (with Ronald Ranta) of From the Arab Other to the Israeli Self: Palestinian Culture in the Making of Israeli National Identity (2016, Routledge), and co-editor (with Abeer AlNajjar) of Language, Politics and Society in the Middle East: Essays in Honour of Yasir Suleiman (2018, Edinburgh University Press). Mendel is also the deputy editor of Maktoob, a series of books dedicated to the translation of Arabic literature into Hebrew, which is based on a bi-national and bi-lingual model.

A World Leader

The Department of Sociology at the University of Cambridge is a world-leading centre for teaching and research in Sociology, consistently ranked first in UK league tables by The Guardian, The Times, and the Independent.

Excellence in Teaching

Dr Mónica Moreno-Figueroa, Pilkington Teaching Prize Winner and Senior Lecturer in Sociology, explains why it is important to study Sociology and how she helps her students to engage with the course at Cambridge.

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