Current Project

Ongoing series of activities

COVID 19 nurse

COVID-19 and policy making: the role of public engagement and deliberation

This webinar took place on Friday 15 May 2020.

Chair: Hugh Whittall, Director, Nuffield Council on Bioethics


  • Melanie Challenger, member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and a writer and researcher in environmental history and philosophy. She publishes and presents ideas that bring together environmental ethics, bioethics, and natural history.
  • Simon Burall, member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and a Senior Associate of Involve. He has extensive experience in the fields of public participation, accountability and transparency.
  • Reema Patel, Head of Public Engagement at the Ada Lovelace Institute, experienced in the use of qualitative social science methodologies (particularly public deliberation).

This webinar, the fourth in the Nuffield Council’s current series of COVID-19-related webinars, will explore issues around transparency, governance, and public involvement and deliberation in the development of policy. In a statement published on 24 April, the Council set out its concerns about obscurity and lack of engagement in recent policy-making, and called on the Government to:

  • Show the public what it is doing and thinking across the range of issues of concern
  • Set out the ethical considerations that are informing its judgements
  • Explain how it arrived at decisions including what advice it has sought and received
  • Invite a broad range of perspectives into the discussion, including wider cross public representation
  • Consult and engage other civic interests through genuinely open for a and deliberative processes such as citizens’ assemblies.

In this webinar we hope to promote wider discussion of the importance of transparency, and of public involvement and deliberation in research and policy where public interests and values are at stake. We ask whether the Prime Minister’s commitment to ‘maximum transparency’ is at least a step in the right direction. The meeting will be of interest to those in policy roles as well as interested academics, public and third sector groups, industry and members of the public.

Attendees will not be audible or visible during the webinar, but will be able to put questions to the panel through a Q&A tool.