The UCS Academy is a high quality events programme featuring world-renowned speakers, showcasing academic excellence both inside and outside UCS. The events include conversations with, lectures and guest lectures by experts across a wide range of disciplines.
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Social Justice and the Big Society
Professor Noel Smith
Professor Noel Smith takes a hard look at the big issues – and reflects upon the future role of the social policy academic – as UCS looks forward to expanding its engagement in the field of social policy. Social policy in the United Kingdom is experiencing radical reform on a scale not witnessed since the creation of the welfare state. Social justice is the aim of social policy – although it is a trickier concept than it may appear (justice for whom?) and this makes it useful for thinking critically about the purposes or limitations of government policies. ‘Big Society’ appeared a rather whimsical notion when first promoted by David Cameron. It has since been translated into a massive programme to profoundly reform the governance and provision of the services designed to offer social justice to vulnerable and disadvantaged people. As a field of study, social policy covers a lot of ground – from the dynamics of economic inequality to the details of the Bus Service Operators Grant. This broad base enables it to both critique and inform interventions to promote social justice.
Profile: Professor Noel Smith joined UCS in April 2012 as Professor of Social Policy to lead the Division of Social Policy and Social Work in the School of Applied Social Sciences. Professor Smith trained as a social worker in Hull and completed his doctorate in social anthropology at Queen’s University, Belfast. He joined UCS from Loughborough University where he was the Director of the Centre for Research in Social Policy – a leading national research centre renowned for providing evidence about UK poverty, social welfare and service delivery to government departments and charities. In addition to designing innovative methods to tackle tricky research problems, Professor Smith’s interests lie in understanding social disadvantage and the strategies and interventions to address disadvantage. In particular, he is an authority on minimum income standards and poverty research, and an expert on policy analysis and service evaluation.
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