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CUSPE Communications

CUSPE Communications provides a platform for articles on a range of science policy issues. Submissions are open to any member affiliated with the University – undergraduate, postgraduate, visitor, or staff.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 43
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Towards the Equitable Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines in Africa
    (Cambridge University Science and Policy Exchange) Goswami, Devneel Basudev; Turner, Georgia [0000-0001-8306-8454]
    Infections caused by the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic have delivered a decisive blow to health systems across the world and resulted in drastic economic hardships. COVID-19 vaccines have proven to reduce the risk of mortality and morbidity against the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic and hence the vaccine must be distributed equitably among the global community. The comparatively low rate of vaccination in many of the low and middle income African countries, risks prolonging the pandemic and the emergence of new and dangerous variants of COVID-19. The vaccine supply chain has been also chiefly directed towards high-income countries, while African countries continue to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine by using traditional procedures of routine immunisation and erstwhile vaccination programmes. These have not been able to fulfil the current demand for the vaccine and instead, have adversely hindered the vaccines’ effective distribution. African countries must accelerate vaccine distribution by implementing innovative measures conducive to optimal distribution at the local and the national level, while also redirecting a sizable portion of vaccines from manufacturers and countries which have purchased a surplus.
  • ItemOpen AccessPublished version Peer-reviewed
    Public Health in the Developing World: Tackling Vector-Borne Diseases
    (Cambridge University Science Policy Exchange, 2019) Geldard, Matthew O; Sanguanini, M
    One of the most pressing policy issues of the modern era is how to improve public health in the world’s poorest regions. Of particular concern are those diseases spread by mosquitos: the World Health Organisation estimates a total of 96 million cases of dengue and, in 2017 alone, 219 million cases of malaria. Policies targeting such vector-borne diseases (VBDs) represent nothing new. However, there seems to be a continuing inability to move the agenda from one of disease reduction to eradication: clearly, current policy initiatives are not proving effective enough. This report aims to tackle this issue by outlining the problems associated with current policies and how they can be addressed through epidemiological innovation, with need to not only improve the efficacy of such policies, but also their cost-effectiveness and sustainability. Two innovative policies will be presented: that of manipulating the urban environment to reduce mosquito habitat and of harnessing predation pressure to better regulate mosquito populations.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Ensuring Societal Advancement through Science and Technology: Pathways to Scientific Integration
    (CUSPE) Bazley, Stephanie; Tanna, H; Cullen, E; Bazley, Stephanie [0000-0002-4267-0665]
    In an increasingly digitised world, those within STEM fields have a responsibility to communicate their research in an accessible manner to the funders and end-users of their innovation. Steps should be taken to incentivise improved scientific communication by scientists via social media, open source publishing and outreach programs. In this way, we can ensure equal access to research across society, and increased acceptance of innovation, whilst avoiding costly delays to their implementation. The scientific field was built upon the basic core principles of collaboration and distribution. With the digital age came renewed opportunities for integration with the community. Now, the foundations of science and healthcare are once again changing, as paradigm-shifting technologies such as AI-powered healthcare solutions and genomic medicine become the norm. If our communities do not understand and accept these new services, any positive impact is significantly limited. In order to find a resolution to this problem, we need to focus on improved scientific communication and education, through re-examined frameworks for scientific impact and funding.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Implementing UK Wind Energy: Lessons from Environmental Psychology
    (CUSPE, 2013-01-01) Plutshack, Victoria
    As the UK aims to produce 15% of its energy consumption from renewables by 2020, planning policy becomes increasingly important to facilitate the large-scale implementation of renewable technologies. As it stands, there is great opposition to wind farms across Wales, the North East of England and Scotland. How can we improve the planning process and companies’ engagement with the local community to increase the success rate for planning applications? This piece looks at what we can learn from psychological and sociological frameworks, such as the Theory of Planned Behaviour and concepts of place attachment, to craft a suitable government response.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Smart cities, digital connectivity and social inclusion: paving the way to inclusive urban strategies
    (CUSPE, 2013-01-01) Robin, Enora
    Cities have become key players in the global economic landscape, with only 600 cities contributing to 60% of the world’s economic output. The proportion of world’s population living in urban areas is projected to be rising from 50% today to 75% in 2050. Despite the economic benefits derived from the concentration of economic activities, concern has emerged about the negative externalities of urbanised modes of development. As a response to these challenges, more attention has been given to inclusive and sustainable urban modes of development that would reconcile the objectives of sustainability and economic competitiveness. The concept of smart cities has gained in popularity among policy-makers over the last two decades. However, smart city programmes have often been focusing on the development of ICT infrastructures. This brief article argues that digital strategies must be complemented by policies that improve people’s and local firms’ ability to grasp the potential benefits of these new technological and networking opportunities.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Heritage Science: Neglected but Necessary in Planning for the Future
    (CUSPE, 2013-01-01) Schweitzer, Christina
    While most scientists look to the future, heritage scientists focus on preserving the past. Bridging science and art, this little-known field encompasses the conservation, interpretation and management of cultural assets. The educational and cultural importance of the UK’s historical assets is widely acknowledged, but they also contribute billions of pounds to the economy in the form of heritage tourism and conservation of historic buildings. Despite the economic benefits of investment in heritage science, the field is largely overlooked by policymakers and the scientific community at large, and has suffered from a lack of funding and career opportunities for scientists.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Bright Future of Solar Energy
    (CUSPE, 2013-01-01) Armstrong, Claire
    Energy demand and consumption nowadays has lead to great interest in the research and development of renewable energies.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Open questions regarding proliferation resistance assessments of future nuclear fuel cycles
    (CUSPE, 2012-01-01) Ashley, Stephen F.
    The barriers that impede the acquisition of materials which could be used to manufacture a weapon of mass destruction or weapon of mass effect can generally be classified into two groups (e.g. as done by the Generation IV International Forum). The first group are classed as intrinsic barriers, which are characteristics that impede the diversion or undeclared production of nuclear material or misuse of technology by the Host State to acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The second group are classed as extrinsic barriers, which are characteristics that impede the theft of materials suitable for nuclear explosives or radiation dispersal devices and the sabotage of facilities and transportation by sub-national entities and other non-Host State adversaries. Proliferation resistance assessments generally focus towards the intrinsic barriers, with physical protection assessment catering toward appraising the extrinsic barriers.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Encouraging Innovation in Public Sector Employees: The Role of Financial Incentives on Creative Tasks?
    (CUSPE, 2012-01-01) Gladstone, Joe
    Innovation in the public sector is no longer a luxury. Change has now become the rule, rather than the exception, as new global challenges mean innovative and creative solutions are required from government employees as never before. This task is made both more urgent and more difficult as budget cuts continue to bite. What are the primary levers available to encourage innovative ideas and behaviour from public sector employees? This paper looks at current evidence from behavioural science to better understand the problem and argues that classic assumptions of reward do not apply when trying to encourage more complex and creative behaviours.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Innovation in the Fight Against Infectious Diseases
    (CUSPE, 2018-02-01) Rodriguez-Rincon, Daniela
    The discovery of antibiotics in 1928 led the world to believe that the fight against infectious diseases was one to be won within a few years. Nowadays, nearly 90 years following the discovery of penicillin, infectious diseases remain one of the main causes of mortality worldwide, with lower respiratory tract infections, diarrhoeal diseases, and tuberculosis ranking among the top 10 causes of death according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In recent years, the advent of antibiotic resistance, the anti-vaccination movement, and humanitarian crises have seen a rise in infectious diseases that were once thought to be nearly eradicated, such as polio, tuberculosis and measles.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Art of Science Diplomacy
    (CUSPE, 2018-03-01) Majumdar, Mrittunjoy Guha
    Richard Holbrooke once said ‘Diplomacy is like jazz: endless variations on a theme’. A fine-art as it seemingly is, diplomacy has recently had an added embellishment on its canvas: science. For the diplomats of the day, this new addition to the vanguard of diplomacy has come with a lot of additional resources and opportunities, over and above the traditional elements of ‘soft power’, which is an approach to international relations that involves persuasion using economic and/ or cultural influences.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Building a secure, quantum internet for the future: will the UK’s science policy keep up?
    (CUSPE, 2018-04-01) Koehler-Sidki, Alex
    The digital world is changing fast; the computing power of today’s smartphones outpaces that of supercomputers from just twenty-five years ago. We can video-call people on the opposite side of the globe, and we trust that our data are transmitted securely from one device to another. But, given this breathless speed of advancement, can we maintain our security in the coming decades? The use of quantum mechanics could be the answer. Is the UK’s science policy up to it?
  • ItemOpen Access
    Data Governance in the Genomics Era
    (CUSPE, 2018-04-01) Lawrence, Emma
    In recent years, the volume of data generated from all aspects of our lives has been increasing, in parallel with the sophistication of analytical techniques used to process this data. This shift toward a ‘data-driven’ society has the potential to yield insights that can benefit many sectors of public life, but it has also prompted concerns related to privacy. A recent report by the Royal Society on data management and use is a recognition that the fast pace of all areas of data growth requires careful consideration.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Blockchain policy inertia: Where’s the disruption?
    (CUSPE, 2018-05-01) Sobey, Aisha
    Blockchain has been framed as a technology that could alter the shape of the world dramatically in the coming decades, influencing how we act and govern ourselves as a society, as the decentralised nature of Blockchain means that these networks wouldn’t be controlled by one person, group, corporation or government.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Competition Impacts of Energy Tariff Options: There and Back Again
    (CUSPE, 2017-02-01) Monroe, Paul
    Ensuring sufficient competition in the energy market is a key role of the regulator. One of the most popular measures for measuring competition has been in the analysis of customers switching between tariff plans. Unfortunately, switching rates are comparatively low and the market remains dominated (85%) by the six largest energy companies. Many regulatory interventions have been made, but one of the most significant was a cap on the total number of tariff plans on offer by suppliers. Earlier in 2016, this decision was reversed and the cap was eliminated. The primary reasoning was that the cap now inhibited competition because, alongside other measures, it prevented the creation of innovative offerings, like reward plans paired with other services, discounted “smart home” packages, and more. The broad question looming over this decision is whether the cap removal will promote innovation or simply represent at return to the previous state of affairs. Furthermore, the implications for vulnerable customers – who benefit greatly from regular switching but may be dissuaded from doing so in this scenario – require exploration. This paper will detail the potential effects of this policy intervention in depth.
  • ItemOpen Access
    On the Road to 2025: The Global Dementia Deadline
    (CUSPE, 2017-05-01) Lindstedt, Philip
    With the increasing life expectancy of the global population age-associated diseases stand to become the greatest plague of the 21st century. Indeed, in the U.K. dementia has recently overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death. While not through a lack of effort, the development of effective therapies for dementias, especially Alzheimer’s disease, the most prevalent form, has been woefully unsuccessful. Policy makers around the globe have settled on a deadline of 2025 for a single effective therapy against Alzheimer’s in order to mitigate the potentially immense cost of the care burden. Although some candidates appear promising, recent high-profile failures showcase the difficult path towards 2025, casting doubt on the possibility for researchers to meet their deadline in the current policy paradigm.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Empowering through Light: Women and Solar Home Systems in Rural Bihar, India
    (CUSPE, 2017-05-01) Chandna, Shivi
    In rural India, women in poor households spend a large part of their day performing basic tasks such as collecting fuel wood or kerosene, which keeps them away from employment or education opportunities and makes their lives more difficult. Access to electricity is therefore increasingly regarded as a means to improve their status in society. Although a large number of small-scale and community-based off-grid renewable energy projects are in place to provide access to electricity with a women-centric approach, research on the benefits to women has been largely anecdotal. A review of the evidence for the impact of rural electrification on women’s lives concluded that electricity access has a positive effect on women’s practical needs by reducing drudgery and providing better health, time-savings and income generation.
  • ItemOpen Access
    A Look at the Attrition of Women in STEM
    (CUSPE, 2017-03-01) Sharma, Sumana
    The underrepresentation of women in leadership positions in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is usually attributed to the ‘leaky pipeline phenomenon’, according to which an increasing proportion of women leave their occupational fields at each stage along their career paths. This attrition is most pronounced for the academic biological sciences, in which the most significant attrition occurs at the postgraduate-to-group leader transition. To illustrate: in the UK in 2014/15, 66% of bioscience postgraduate students, but only 18% of professors, were female. A huge gender difference in leadership positions is evident across all STEM fields: overall, 82% of all professors are men, as of 2014. This attrition of women in the STEM workforce raises questions over specific barriers faced by women in this field for career advancement. These barriers can be multi-faceted; thus, accurately identifying the main barriers and designing policies to address them will be essential to resolving gender disparity in the field of STEM.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Healthcare costs
    (CUSPE, 2012-01-01) Groen, Arnoud
    Over the past decade, health expenditure has increased year on year as a proportion of national income. This unsustainable increase in healthcare expenditure has consistently outstripped inflation and is expected to increase even further.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Insect Pollinators and Policy
    (CUSPE, 2017-07-01) Cullen, Erin
    Pollination is the process of pollen being transferred to the female reproductive organs of a plant and fertilisation taking place. Pollinators (which include honeybees) are vital to the process of pollination in flowering plants. Therefore pollinators provide vital ecosystem services which include food production as well as being important for biodiversity and conservation. With the need for food production to increase, now is an important time for pollinator security. However, their numbers are in decline. This piece will consider the legislation in place to protect pollinators both at a UK and international level, and examine the evidence collected by scientists to determine its efficacy. Although government commitment to biodiversity is strong in the UK, patchy legislation means that this commitment may not translate into protection for pollinators.