Fellows begin work on nine Local Policy Lab projects


Nineteen graduate students have been announced as the inaugural Local Policy Fellows as part of the Local Policy Lab, the new alliance between the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University and Oxfordshire County Council.

The Local Policy Fellowship programme provides an opportunity for students and researchers to engage with their local community and to better understand the public policy context of the city and local environment where they live. 

The Local Policy Fellows will work in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council and its policy partners to design and conduct impact evaluations, evaluate datasets, and collect qualitative data on health and climate policy initiatives. Additional support for each Fellow will be provided by professional facilitators and academic mentors from Oxford University. 

The 19 inaugural Local Policy Fellows will carry out research on nine projects, listed below:  

  • Unlocking a fair start: Home visits for healthier, greener homes (Fatima Kasenally and Michael Folayan); 
  • Promoting health outcomes by vegetable growing through NHS greenspace Rejoice Hassan and Michael Leadbetter); 
  • Creating a more equal Oxfordshire: evaluating the work of the Oxfordshire Inclusive Economy Partnership (Faye Thijssen and Nahjae Nunes); 
  • Assessing green social prescribing opportunities for children and young people in Oxfordshire (Srijani Datta and Moosa M Waraich); 
  • Underrepresented voices in climate action (Gillian Chan and Aya Kamil); 
  • Mapping the quality of greenspace in Oxfordshire (Samuel Greenrod and Wajeeha Amir); 
  • Assessing the role of carbon capture in an Oxfordshire offsetting strategy (Jin Lim, Michal Staniaszek and Aisha Valenzuela Basurto); 
  • Identifying promising practices for schools’ decarbonisation in Oxfordshire (Shreya Sharma and Hansa Mukherjee); 
  • The impact of healthy conversations: Evaluating the ‘Making Every Contact Count’ training (Eloise Ockenden and Edinah Samuel). 

Professor Alex Betts, University of Oxford Local and Global Engagement Officer, said:

“As the home to two large universities, Oxford – and the whole of Oxfordshire – could access a wealth of cutting-edge, impact-driven research that could inform solutions to public policy challenges facing the city and county.  

“We’re delighted to be launching the Local Policy Lab Fellowship Programme as a first step in connecting the city and county with a diverse group of students from a variety of academic backgrounds, all with a clear commitment to contribute to the local community by addressing climate and health issues.” 

The Fellowship Programme has already kicked off with a series of weekly training sessions which range from local policy and community engagement to data skills, ethics, social sciences for public policy. The Local Policy Fellows will start their field work and data analysis next month and will present the findings and policy recommendations from each project in July.  

Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said:

“This hugely exciting programme allows Oxfordshire County Council teams to partner with 19 of the brightest and best students from our local universities to tackle some of the most pressing climate and health issues facing Oxfordshire today.  

“Local Policy Fellows will get the opportunity to apply what they’ve learnt in the lecture theatre to current policy challenges, directly impacting local decision making to improve outcomes across the county. We’re thrilled to be getting started on a programme that will benefit people in Oxfordshire through closer relationships between Oxfordshire’s councils, communities and universities for years to come.” 

Oxford Brookes University graduate students will be able to apply for the 2024-2025 academic year.  

Professor Koula Asimakopoulou, Associate Dean Research and KE, Faculty of Health & Life Sciences at Oxford Brookes University, said:

"Oxford Brookes are delighted to be partnering with Oxford County Council and our academic friends and colleagues at Oxford to deliver this initiative. We are looking forward to welcoming Brookes students to this initiative in the coming months and to continuing the good work that has already started." 

The Local Policy Lab Fellowship Programme is the first initiative launched by the Local Policy Lab, a joint effort between universities and local government that aims to bridge the gap between academic research and local policy and promote relationships and between local policymakers, community groups and residents, and university researchers in Oxfordshire.