Chair's Commissions: Reaching Out and Adding Depth

In November 2014 the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom announced its intention to establish two new Chair’s Commissions as a strategic tool through which to undertake a fundamental review of how the PSA operates in terms of memberships groups, the educational journey, member services and a host of other issues.

Traditional funding models for learned societies are changing, the higher education environment is increasingly complex and the services and support structures provided to members must evolve accordingly. The role of the Chair’s Commissions is to examine the strategic future of the PSA in order to provide new options and new opportunities. This is based on the need to increase the visibility, professionalism and ambition of the PSA. The response to the call for nominations was tremendous and the Executive Committee would like to thank all those members of the profession who so generously offered to contribute their time, energy and experience. Such was the explosion of support for this initiative that the initial plans to have three-person commissions have now been developed so that each commission has up-to fifteen members. 

The commissions are broadly representative of the membership of the PSA in terms of their being members from a wide range of sub-disciplines, from ‘new’ and ‘old’ universities, from all stages of the academic career ladder and there are also several non-academic members whose role is to question basic assumptions, to underline the scale of the challenges ahead and to help commission members see opportunities where other learned societies might see threats. However, commission members have not been appointed to represent any one single community or organisation.

The core focus is on the strategic future of the PSA and how it can best promote the study of politics in a changing world. Detailed position statements for each commission will now be distributed to commission members and a timetable of events and meetings will be arranged. These will run throughout 2015 and the hope is that both commissions will ‘think big’ when it comes to reflecting upon the past, present and future of the PSA.

Significant resources in terms of finances and personnel have been put in place and the Vice Chair of the PSA, Rosie Campbell, will be responsible for liaising with the commissions on behalf of the Executive Committee. The Commissions will be active and visible over the next twelve months and everyone – members and non-members, teachers and students, political scientists and scholars from any other disciplines – should feel encouraged to engage with them. 


Table 1. Commission Members

Reaching OutAdding Depth
  1. Dominic Byatt, Oxford University Press [Chair]
  2. Paul Tobin, University of York [Vice Chair]
  3. Claire Sutherland, Durham University [Vice Chair]
  4. Paul Cairney, University of Stirling
  5. Peter Shipston, Hill House School, Doncaster
  6. Felicity Matthews, University of Sheffield
  7. Phil Sooben, Deputy Chief Executive of the ESRC
  8. Suzanne Derks-Van Damm, University of East Anglia
  9. Darren Lilleker, Bournemouth University
  10. Titus Alexander, Democracy Matters
  11. Carl Gladwell, St Catherine’s School, Guildford
  12. Joanna McKay, Nottingham Trent
  13. David Wendelken, Harrow School
  14. Jess Garland, Sussex University
  15. Richard Kelly, Manchester Grammar School
  1. Ailsa Henderson, Edinburgh University  [Chair]
  2. Ana Juncos, Bristol University [Vice Chair]
  3. James Sloam, Royal Holloway [Vice Chair]
  4. Andrew Glencross, University of Stirling
  5. Rosie Sheridan, Sage
  6. Rob Dover, Loughborough University
  7. David Boucher, Cardiff University
  8. Alfred Moore, Cambridge University
  9. Phil Catney, Keele University
  10. Margaret Arnott, University of West of Scotland
  11. Jonathan Brunert, BBC
  12. Thomas Elston, Oxford University
  13. Samuel Powers, Sussex University
James Ludley, Secretariat to the CommissionDanielle Bailey, Secretariat to the Commission

Chair’s Commission On Reaching Out Timetable