Using cognitive science research to redesign policy decision making systems

Climate change is back on the political agenda and public support for action on climate change is at its highest level since 2007. But can we expect our political institutions to be able to respond in the time and scale needed given their past failures? Rather than merely policy reform do we need to reform the system of government itself? In today’s post Celia Green and Andrew Joyce discuss how cognitive science research could be used in the redesign of our political institutions to enable better decision making processes.

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Indigenous treaties are meaningless without addressing the issue of sovereignty

Since Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s rejection of the 2017 Statement from the Heart, demands for a treaty process across the country have accelerated state-based moves, including in Victoria and the Northern Territory. In this piece Gaynor MacDonald argues the enthusiasm for treaties at the state and territory level is misplaced and that while local treaty action may be a symbol of goodwill, it is the very foundation of the Australian Constitution that must be changed.

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Meaningful citizen engagement - to be embraced, not feared

Local governments everywhere are being challenged by the move towards better, more meaningful citizen engagement. The new Local Government Bill before the Victorian Parliament will require Councils to have a policy with specific community engagement principles, aiming to, among other things, "enable meaningful and informed engagement." Chris Eddy reflects on his experience as CEO at a local council in Melbourne's inner west.

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The focus on better communicating certain ‘truths’ is misplaced: academics must improve their emotional literacy

How can researchers have impact in a political landscape in which public opinion is shaped more by emotion and personal belief than evidence? Following the selection of ‘post-truth’ as the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016, Ruth Dixon takes inspiration from artist Grayson Perry’s plea that academics should cultivate greater emotional understanding of those with whom they disagree. It’s time for political scientists to question, with some humility, their own ‘deficit model’ of the public understanding of politics. This post originally appeared on the author's personal blog and was reposted on the LSE Impact BlogIt appears here with the author's permission.

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Words matter: deconstructing ‘welfare dependency’ in the UK

When our politicians frame the discussion around welfare users by using such language as "dole bludgers" it is a deliberate tactic to validate punishing them - as we have seen with the Centrelink debt debacle and the accusations by staff that a faulty system was deliberately implemented. In today's post, Paul Michael Garrett explains how language use frames public opinion in the U.K. in unhelpful ways.  Have ideologically underpinned debates, portraying those on welfare as being lazy and having an easy life, become part of collective public perceptions? With 2016 marking the 40th anniversary of the publication of Raymond Williams’ Keywords, an interrogation of the taken-for-grantedness of specific words used to support a neoliberal agenda is timely.  Here, he looks at ‘welfare dependency’.  This blog originally appeared on the London School of Economics' British Politics and Policy blog; the original can be viewed here

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