Sheffield Institute for Policy Studies: Response to Black Lives Matter

The Sheffield Institute for Policy Studies was launched in 2016 with a vision that recognised that the solutions to the great economic, social and environmental challenges facing policy makers today cannot be addressed adequately by single academic disciplines, without the full engagement of policy communities, not without the involvement of the public.

On 25th May 2020, a 46-year-old Black American man George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis by a White Police Officer David Chauvin who knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost eight minutes. The murder of George Floyd was a tragedy for many, but it is not an isolated event and it is not one limited to the United States.

The circumstances that led to Floyd’s death are not the actions of a single police officer: they have historic roots in the power and privilege of White people, in public and civic institutions, in economic structures and in social relationships. To quote the American political activist Angela Davis, “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.” SIPS recognise the need see racism in its different forms and the need to be antiracist in our response.

We are also reminded by the champions of policy change that the challenges we face are intersectional; the division and labelling of individual groups can be part of a divisive politics to ‘other’ already marginalised groups. Policy must seek a new language which has at its heart not just inclusion and diversity, but also one which recognises and seeks to heal the deep pain, injustice and inequality faced by groups marginalised by those with privilege and power. 

As an institute seeking to challenge and redefine policy through research, SIPS will be undertaking the following in response to Black Lives Matter:

  1. Redefining SIPS’ values, priorities and objectives which places injustice at the forefront of its work
  2. Changing our governance and membership, and putting allyship at the heart of our approach
  3. Launching a new programme to bring together SHU’s academics to find ways to combat the absence of race in policy analysis, theoretically, methodologically and empirically
  4. Redefining our programme of activities so that the tackling of injustice is a core theme of our work
  5. Developing a new approach to how we communicate research to be more inclusive and representative of everyone impacted by policy

SIPS Fellow Dr Laura Kilby ended her recent SIPS blog “Killing in a time of Covid-19: How do we communicate when we can’t breathe” with the following:  “we have the tools we need to end racism, we have always had the tools. It just takes a collective will to use them and its way past time that we did”.

#Black Lives Matter