Brian W. Head
The market-place of policy ideas continues to become more diverse. This plurality of voices is welcome from the perspective of encouraging healthy and vigorous democratic debate, because multiple sources of information and advice could be valuable for addressing complex crises and contested policy problems. On the other hand, the platforms of policy debate and mediatised channels of opinion formation are often overwhelmed by shrill voices and powerful interests. Some of these are disdainful of science and expertise, and promote solutions based on opinions and rhetoric (‘post-truth’). Moreover, there has been a parallel decline in civic trust concerning public institutions and political elites. Can the policy sciences explain these inter-twined phenomena, especially under crisis conditions such as the Covid-19 pandemic? How can the policy sciences research agenda contribute to protecting and strengthening the role of best-available evidence in an inclusive policy process? Can research provide insights into how inclusion and transparency could assist in restoring public trust in high-quality decision-making?