Reflections from the COMPAS Seminar Series Beyond Impact? (Hilary 2018).
Migration and related issues including integration continue to be highly salient on public and policy agendas around the world. Across policymaking, media, business, and civil society, from the international to neighbourhood level: researchers are often asked, and increasingly actively encouraged, to engage with a range of public and private organisations. These engagements potentially take different forms and directions: from conventional public communication, to collaborative knowledge exchange, to participatory research. Increasingly, users not only demand research, data, and knowledge on these topics, but also opportunities for peer to peer exchange of expertise and ideas.
But, these new forms of engagement in the academy are subject to social, political, and ethical constraints—not least of all public distrust in expertise and experts. They also raise questions about the appropriate role of researchers in contributing to processes of social change. As the political economy of universities is changing in the UK to emphasise ‘impact’ activities, there is a need to think critically about what is precisely meant by impact, the processes involved in generating it, and how it relates to broader questions about how migration research is and should be designed and executed.