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"What was I thinking?!”: being an academic in the age of impact | Dr Eleonora Belfiore, University of Warwick | 27 May, Nuffield College (17.00-18.30)


The context for this paper is offered by one of the defining debates in cultural policy studies, namely the one around the tension between a desire to be useful to those who administer the arts and culture and the aspiration to preserve the cultural policy scholar's critical distance from the object of analysis, intellectual autonomy and the freedom to critique. Whilst this tension is especially noticeable within a small and emerging field such as cultural policy research, it is not by any means only found there. Taking developments in the UK as the geographical focus of analysis, it is clear that increasing expectations that research, especially when publicly funded, should have 'impact' bring with them similar kind of tensions. Expectation that research ought to deliver 'impact', which is often understood as a contribution to policy development, have been hotly contested and resisted, yet an important set of questions still remain open:
• What is the ultimate purpose of critical cultural policy research? Or in other words, what comes after critique?
• Is critique for critique's sake a satisfactory goal for cultural policy analysis or can we envisage a constructive engagement between critical research and policy debates that is not subservient to the needs of policy advocacy?
Reflecting on my experience as academic lead for the Warwick Commission for the Future of Cultural Value I'll explore the possibilities and challenges that developing a collaborative approach to generating fresh policy thinking entail.


Dr Eleonora Belfiore is the Associate Professor of Cultural Policy and the Director of Studies of the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value.
Her research is focused on the development of a humanities-based, yet highly interdisciplinary, approach to the study of cultural policies and cultural politics, and she is committed to public engagement, to the notion that research comes alive in conversations and interactions with people, both within and beyond the academy, and to taking research out of the university into the world of practice and policy-making.

Dr Belfiore is the founder and curator of the web resource The #culturalvalue Initiative, and since the summer of 2013 she has been working as Director of Studies on the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value, a large scale public engagement project which aims to develop a research-informed, intellectually sound national conversation on the value of the arts and culture and the policy infrastructure required for their flourishing.


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