Our research impacts on a range of areas outside academia, including public policy, policy debate, economic understanding, health and cultural life.
Often in philosophy, the major impact is to ‘make people think'. Philosophy initiates change more by provoking questions than by giving answers – and the changes initiated include raising aspirations, generating reflection on political and economic problems, encouraging the young to think outside the box and encouraging enterprise.
The work of our researchers has reached broad and varied audiences through a number of routes, including on a national and international level through the publication of books targeted at non-specialists, such as Read's Philosophy for Life, Collins' Chomsky: a guide for the perplexed, Osborne's Presocratic Philosophy and Kuusela's Key Terms in Ethics. National media appearances and talks at national festivals, lectures and summer schools such as the Hay Festival (Read), have broadened the reach of the research.
Locally, impact has been achieved through weekly public lectures attracting up to 200 audience members, the majority of whom hail from outside academia. A series of public lectures called ‘Philosopher Kings' feeds directly into public policy and political life by raising issues directly with policy makers and serving politicians, while engaging voters in issues of philosophical importance in politics.
Guardians for Future Generations
Rupert Read's work to develop a method of giving future generations a say in current policy-making decisions resulted in a practical political proposal for a body of appointed ‘Guardians of the Future' in the UK.
Read's proposal "Guardians for the Future" was launched with expansive media coverage at the House of Commons in January 2012.The work was promoted via think tanks, policy review bodies and public events. Discourse around the nature and ideals of democracy had an impact on policy debate in the UK and on public understanding of major issues affecting future life in the country.
Beyond this, the creation of a UN Special Representative for Future Generations in June 2012 was likely influenced by Read's work.
Ian Christie, an associate of the Green Alliance think tanks says of Read's work: "It has been one of the main catalysts for fresh thinking about future generations and their representation in democratic process."
Putting research on Presocratic Philosophy to work
Catherine Rowett is internationally renowned for her research on Presocratic philosophy with work helping to satisfy the intellectual and cultural curiosity of people in the UK and beyond, as well as extending public understanding of potential risks in concrete situations, such as stock market investment.
Rowett has shown that Presocratic philosophy continually inspires new ideas in its readers in every period of Western thought. Through introducing this topic to audiences outside academia, Rowett has generated awareness of the riches of the early history of western thought and its relevance to readers concerns.
In direct application to an issue of modern life, Rowett's work on the Sophists was adopted by Reuters journalist, Alexander Davidson, and used in his book The Money Myth: A Classic introduction to the Modern World of Finance and Investing ¬ – a guide for beginners planning to invest on the stock market.