Fulbright New Zealand, IPANZ and the Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships in Public Policy Board invite you to the second in a series of public seminars by this year’s three Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellows in Public Policy.
Benjamin Riley is Director of Policy and Advocacy at NewSchools Venture Fund. During Benjamin’s seven month Ian Axford Fellowship exchange to New Zealand he has been based at the Ministry of Education in Wellington, researching the use of scientific evidence and data in decision-making in the New Zealand education sector.
This report provides observation and commentary on the following question: how might we encourage key members of New Zealand’s education system – including policymakers, practitioners, parents and pupils – to employ scientific practices, evidence, and data when making important decisions?
With that broad theme as backdrop, the report begins with a summary of efforts within New Zealand to privilege the role of scientific evidence as an input into public policy, primarily through the Office of the Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand. These top-level efforts position New Zealand as an international leader in this area, and create the background conditions under which the scientific mindset might flourish across and within New Zealand’s education system. But there is also a challenge. Drawing upon emerging research regarding cultural cognition – which suggests that individuals will be motivated to seek out evidence that affirms their standing among like-minded peers, and reject evidence that refutes existing shared beliefs – I argue that simply advocating for “more science” from the top is unlikely to lead to more (or better) science-informed decisions.
Instead, drawing upon my visits to more than 20 schools located throughout New Zealand, the second half of the report identifies a handful of important questions that New Zealand educators currently are grappling with. Importantly, I do not seek to resolve these issues, or even hint at how to resolve them. The aim instead is to give voice to the needs of practitioners “at the chalk face” and identify future efforts that might benefit from collaborative empirical analysis and evaluation. In other words, rather than describing an existing education policy and how it travels down throughout system, the report outlines a method by which future policy might travel from the bottom up – and be informed by the best available scientific evidence we possess in the process.
Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships in Public Policy are for outstanding mid-career professionals from the United States of America to research, travel and gain practical experience in public policy in New Zealand for seven months, during which time they are hosted at relevant government agencies in Wellington and work towards publishing a policy report. Their reports are launched at a series of seminars, and are subsequently available to download from the Fulbright New Zealand website.
There are three Ian Axford Fellowship seminars in 2014:
The seminars are jointly presented by Fulbright New Zealand and IPANZ. Tea and coffee will be provided.
Registrations are required, at www.ipanz.org.nz