About Us

Our Purpose

We exist to promote social sciences in the UK for public benefit. We showcase, champion and advocate for the social sciences, raising awareness of their immense value and helping to secure their flourishing future.


To enhance and safeguard the social sciences in research, professional practice, and education; and to champion and foster the understanding and application of social sciences in policy, business and public life.


The social sciences flourish in the UK and sustain their world leading stature. They are widely valued for their contributions to society, economy, environment and well-being; and led by confident and capable communities of academics and other professionals, learned societies and students.

The Academy meets its purpose through six objectives and they guide all activities:

  • To champion the social sciences: promoting the vital role of social science in improving decision-making, society and lives.
  • To sustain the health of the social sciences in research and education: enabling a thriving and confident community

  • To recognise excellence in social science: with an expert and engaged Fellowship
  • To widen participation and skills in the social sciences: recognising the importance of social mobility, diversity and employability to people and society
  • To foster innovation and application of the social sciences: informing and helping to address challenges of our time
  • To ensure a sustainable future for the Academy of Social Sciences: as the only body that exists solely to represent social sciences in the UK.

The Academy’s strategy, to 2029, outlines our objectives for promoting social science in the UK for public benefit and guides our activities in achieving our vision to see the social sciences flourish in the UK, sustain their world leading stature and be applied to make the world a better place.

Our Academy and Campaign summary Annual Reports are structured around our strategic objectives, reporting on outputs and outcomes, and giving an overview of our finances. Full Trustees’ Reports and Financial Statements are available on request.

The Academy has a series of policies that guide our work.

Our People

Dr Rita GardnerCBE FAcSS

Chief Executive

A professional geographer with strong leadership expertise and non-executive experience in advisory, trustee and board roles. she became Academy CEO in 2019. Previously she was Director, Royal Geographical Society where she led a strategic programme of modernisation and expansion, advocacy for geography, public and policy engagement. An academic career at London University followed her DPhil at Oxford University. She holds four leading geography awards, six honorary degrees and a CBE for services to geography.

Email: ceo@acss.org.uk

Ed Bridges

Head of Policy and Public Affairs

Ed has 15 years’ experience of influencing policy development at a local and national level. Prior to joining the Academy in 2023, he led Cardiff University’s public affairs and civic mission activities, working with politicians at both the Senedd and Westminster as well as with wider civil society organisations. He has also worked for a variety of health and social care charities in Wales and Northern Ireland. He holds a PhD from Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences.

Email: policy@acss.org.uk 

Dr Sarah Jones

Director of Operations

Sarah joined the Academy in early 2021 as Head of Administration. She has a background spanning learned societies, higher and secondary education. Sarah is a geographer with a BSc and PhD from Queen Mary, University of London. She was the Professional Officer and Head of Programmes at the Royal Geographical Society running events in London and the regional committees. She retrained as a geography teacher, becoming Head of Department and an award-winning education resource writer.

Email: administrator@acss.org.uk

Annie Hogan

Membership and Database Manager

Annie joined the Academy at the start of 2023. She has worked within the charity and publishing sectors in a variety of roles, most recently overseeing all aspects of membership for an international society. As part of the administration team at AcSS, she is responsible for maintaining the CRM and managing membership-related activities including subscription renewal and the Fellowship nomination process.

Email: administrator@acss.org.uk

Steve Grundy

Senior Campaign Manager

Before joining AcSS Steve managed the Q-Step Programme at the Nuffield Foundation, developing quantitative methods in the social sciences. Steve is a qualified careers adviser and counsellor and has managed widening participation teams in several universities. He has worked in the charity sector developing partnerships between schools, universities, communities and business to support social mobility. Steve also has experience of working with universities to improve teaching and learning and academic quality and standards.

Email: campaign@acss.org.uk

Amy Williams

Senior Communications Manager

Amy manages all aspects of the Academy’s communications. Prior to joining the Academy in 2023, she worked as Global Communications Advisor at ERM where she developed and led internal and external communications projects for a range of initiatives. Before that she was Communications Officer for the Royal Geographical Society where she worked to raise awareness of the Society’s activities with their various stakeholders, including members, academic and professional geographers, geography teachers and the wider public.

Email: media@acss.org.uk

Dr Elizabeth Norman-Sargent

EDI Programme Manager

Lizzy joined the Academy in February 2023 as EDI Programme Manager. She has over ten years’ experience of working in both academia and the charity sector, particularly in the fields of project and programme management and social justice. Lizzy is passionate about the social sciences and has a PhD in Maritime Security, specifically the root causes of child piracy, from the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University.

Theresa Flach

Events and Engagement Officer

Theresa works on the Academy’s events portfolio, public affairs / campaigns programme, and communications. Before joining the Academy in 2023, Theresa worked as a postgraduate researcher for the German development agency, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and as a conference producer for sustainable development leadership summits focused on agriculture, food, and water systems. Her background lies in journalism and Public Relations (PR).

Will Hutton FAcSS

President, Academy of Social Sciences

Will is a political economist, author and columnist. He is an associate with the London School of Economics Centre for Economic Performance, a non-executive director of the Satellite Applications Catapult, co-chair of the Purposeful Company, an associate of the Oxford Martin School, and writes a regular column for The Observer. He was principal of Hertford College, University of Oxford from 2011 to 2020. He has authored many bestselling books including the acclaimed The State We’re In (1995).

Stephen AldridgeFAcSS


Stephen is Director for Analysis and Data at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. A government economist by background, he was previously Chief Economist and then Director of the Strategy Unit in the Cabinet Office. He has also worked in the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the Cabinet Secretariats and Her Majesty’s Treasury.

Prof Tim AllenFAcSS


Tim Allen is inaugural Director of the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa and Professor in Development Anthropology in the Department of International Development at LSE. His research focuses on international criminal justice, non-formal accountability mechanisms, forced migration, reintegration following displacements, war and conflict, aid programmes, witchcraft and social healing, tropical diseases, HIV/AIDS and health programmes.  He is currently the Principal Investigator for the ESRC-funded Centre for Public Authority and International Development. He has authored several books including Poverty and Development.

Prof Lisa Anderson


Lisa is Professor of Management Development and Associate PVC Education in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Liverpool. Her research interests are in the field of management learning and education and current projects include examining how learning at doctoral level can result in real-world impact. She is also former Vice Chair of BAM where her work focused on Management Knowledge and Education and where she led a project to examine the nature of Teaching and Scholarship careers in UK business and management schools.

Prof Nic BeechFAcSS

Honorary Treasurer

Nic Beech is Vice-Chancellor of Middlesex University having previously been a Vice-Principal of the University of St Andrews and Provost of Dundee University. He is President of the British Academy of Management, hon. Treasurer of the Academy of Social Sciences, Chair of AccessHE and a board member of the QAA and the Chartered Management Institute Race Network. His research focuses on identity, diversity, change leadership and learning and he has worked extensively with industry, particularly creative industries and health.

Prof Richard BlackFAcSS


Richard is Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Liverpool. A geographer by training, he works on the geography of international development, especially the relationship between migration, poverty and inequality in the context of environmental and social change. Richard has been a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences since 2012. Prior to joining Liverpool, Richard was PVC and Head of the College of Social Sciences at the University of Birmingham from 2018-23, and Pro-Director (Research and Enterprise) at SOAS University of London from 2013-18.

Prof Tim BlackmanFAcSS


Tim Blackman became Vice-Chancellor of The Open University in October 2019 having previously been Vice-Chancellor of Middlesex University and Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Scholarship and Quality at the OU. Tim has held several positions on private/public and charity boards and has undertaken reviews for research councils. Working for several years as an advisor to UK government on neighbourhood renewal and currently advising on skills policy. He has taught and researched across many areas including planning, research methods and higher education.

Prof Tony CrookCBE FAcSS


Tony is former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of The University of Sheffield and a chartered planner. He chairs The Conservation Volunteers and the Construction Industry Council’s Housing Panel; is a member of the Architects Registration Board, the RTPI Policy & Research Committee and the Kensington & Chelsea TMO Residuary Board. He won the RTPI Research Excellence Award in 2016 and the Sir Peter Hall award in 2020 for research on land value capture and was appointed CBE for services to housing.

Prof Bobby DuffyFAcSS

Chair, Campaign for Social Science

Bobby is Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Policy Institute. Prior to joining King’s in 2018, Bobby was Managing Director of Public Affairs for Ipsos MORI, and Global Director of the Ipsos Social Research Institute, across around 30 countries. He has worked across most public policy areas in his 25 year career in policy research and evaluation, and has been seconded to the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at LSE.

Prof Eileen GreenFAcSS


Professor Eileen Green is a sociologist and Emerita Professor at Teesside University, where she was founding Director of the Centre for Social and Policy Research, which specialised in community action projects. Previously, Reader and Head of Sociology at Sheffield Hallam University, her research interests include gender studies, women’s health and leisure and digital sociology. She is former Chair of the Leisure Studies Association and the British Sociological Association.

Prof Simon MarginsonFAcSS


Simon Marginson is Professor of Higher Education at the University of Oxford, Director of the ESRC/OFSRE Centre for Global Higher Education, and Joint Editor-in-Chief of Higher Education. Simon focuses on global and international aspects of higher education, including higher education in East Asia, and global science. He was the Clark Kerr Lecturer on Higher Education at the University of California in 2014. He is a Fellow of the Society for Research into Higher Education and a member of Academia Europaea.

Dame Jil MathesonFAcSS

Honorary Secretary

Jil Matheson served as National Statistician, Head of the Government Statistical Service and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority from 2009 until her retirement in 2014, following a career in social research and statistics. During that time Jil also Chaired the OECD’s Committee on Statistics and Statistical Policy and the UN Statistical Commission. Jil has been a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences since 2001. She is also a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society.

Prof Tony McEneryFAcSS


Tony is an applied linguist with a focus on the use of large volumes of language data to explore the use and manipulation of language in society. Tony is Distinguished Professor of English Language and Linguistics at Lancaster University. Previously he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Lancaster and Director of the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science. He was the founding Director of Research at the AHRC and Director of Research at the ESRC.

Prof Judith PhillipsOBE FAcSS


Judith Phillips is Deputy Principal (Research) and Professor of Gerontology at the University of Stirling. She is Research Director for the UKRI Healthy Ageing Challenge. Her research interests are in the social, behavioural and environmental aspects of ageing and she has published widely on topics such as social care, caregiving and age friendly environments. She has been highly active in shaping the UK’s gerontological research landscape and her applied research has impacted on government policy, particularly in Wales.

Prof Sally PowerFAcSS


Professor Sally Power is Co-Director of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data (WISERD) and is based in the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University. She is a Fellow of the Learned Society for Wales, an elected member of Council of the British Educational Research Association and a Trustee of the Bevan Foundation. Her own research focuses on the implications of education policy and practice for socio-economic inequalities and the relationship between education, the family and civil society.

Prof Vicky Pryce FAcSS


Professor Vicky Pryce FAcSS is Chief Economic Adviser and board member at CEBR. She was DG for Economics at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and Joint Head of the Government Economic Service after senior positions in business. Currently Fellow of the Society of Professional Economists, Companion of the British Academy of Management, Patron of ‘Pro-bono Economics’ and co-founder of GoodCorporation, she also served on the Councils of Kent University, Royal Economic Society and the IFS, Court of the LSE and on RSA’s board of trustees.

Prof Ian RiversFAcSS


Ian is currently Associate Principal and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Strathclyde. He is a developmental psychologist specialising in the study of bullying behaviour and its psychological impact. Outside the university, he is a member of UKRI: Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Strategic Advisory Network and has previously served as Chair of the Scottish Council of Deans of Education (2018-2020).

Prof John ScottCBE FBA FAcSS

Chair, Nominations Committee

John is a former Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Plymouth and previously worked at the Universities of Essex, Leicester, and Strathclyde. He is Chair of the Sociology Section and a member of the Governing Council of the British Academy, and is a member of the Board of Governors of Plymouth Marjon University. He has been an active member of the British Sociological Association since 1970, holding the positions of Secretary, Treasurer, Chair, and President, and was awarded its Distinguished Services to British Sociology Award in 2014 and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2023. He was awarded a CBE for Services to Social Science in 2013.

Prof Imogen TylerFAcSS


Imogen is Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University. Imogen’s research focuses on inequalities of poverty, class, race, gender, disability and citizenship. Her most recent book, Stigma: the Machinery of Inequality (2020) reconceptualised stigma for the 21st Century. Imogen frequently collaborates with community groups, activists, artists and museums, is a Trustee of the Poverty Truth Network, an executive board member of Lancaster Black History Group and a member of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation ‘Stigma and Poverty Design Team’.

Prof Kavita VedharaFAcSS


Kavita is Professor of Health Psychology at the Cardiff University, working at the interface of social and medical sciences. Her work has examined how risk of disease, the progression of illness and the effectiveness of treatments are influenced by psychological influences like mood and social influences like social support. For example, she has shown that negative moods such as stress and depression predict who will get infections such as COVID-19; how quickly illnesses such as HIV progress; and the effectiveness of treatments as varied as IVF and vaccines. She has also examined what factors influence people’s willingness to engage in public health campaigns such as cancer screening, wearing of face masks; and how can we improve engagement with these. Her work has been funded by the MRC, ESRC, NIHR, EU, Fulbright Commission, amongst others. She is a ‘Distinguished International Affiliate’ of the American Psychological Society (Division 38) and a Fellow of the Academy of Behavioural Medicine.

Our Governance

The Academy is governed by its Board of Trustees and supported by three specialist committees and limited-term advisory groups. Trustees, including the President, are elected and appointed from the Fellowship.

The Academy’s Council (Board of Trustees) has overall responsibility for the charity and its members act as Directors for the company. Responsibility for planning, management and delivery is delegated to the Academy’s Chief Executive.

The Council is chaired by the President and comprises 21 members, one-third of whom are elected by the Fellowship, one-third by member social science societies, and one-third are appointed by the Council. All members are Fellows.

We pay particular attention to embracing diversity in Council membership. This includes locational diversity across the four nations and within the UK, diversity in gender and ethnicity, in discipline, and across the main professional sectors of academia, public, private and third sector. A three-year term of election can be extended for a maximum of two successive terms.

The Council is supported by specialist committees and boards:

  • Campaign for Social Science Board (3 meetings p/a)
  • Audit and Risk Management Committee (2 meetings p/a)
  • CEOs-Chief Officers of Learned Societies Committee (3 meetings p/a)
  • Nominations Committee (2 meetings p/a)

The Executive Committee, comprising senior trustees and the Chief Executive, meets monthly.

Lead trustees take on advisory roles for policy activities and for the Academy’s journal.

Advisory groups are formed to meet specific needs. An International Advisory Group currently exists.