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LSE scores highly in recent social policy awards

Professor Peter Townsend, Dr Tania Burchardt and former LSE Professor David Donnison were all honoured in the recent Social Policy Association awards.

Both Professors Townsend and Donnison were given the Social Policy Association Lifetime Achievement Award and Dr Burchardt the Best Newcomer Award during the Association's annual conference, held in Edinburgh.

The Award is presented annually to a person the judges feel has:

  • made persistent contributions to research and organisation of major conferences, influential reports, etc that have raised the external profile of the subject
  • achieved recognition by non-academics with interest in social policy
  • an acknowledged international reputation
  • made contributions to professional bodies and association
  • had an impact on political process/discourse
  • achieved esteem measured in terms of journal editing/establishing, promotion of social policy within other social sciences, membership of research councils or similar bodies

Professor Peter TownsendProfessor Peter Townsend (pictured) professor of international social policy at LSE was delighted to accept the award, a true accolade to his dedication to the field of social policy:

'As a novice I did my early teaching at LSE in social policy in my late 20s and early 30s. David Donnison was a senior colleague then in the department who became one of the most creative research scientists and policy administrators of the last 40 years. Both of us did what we could for the subject.

'I have gone full circle in being given the chance to return to the School for the last ten years and teach as well as help set up the Centre for the Study of Human Rights - which has become formidable today under its multi-disciplinary leadership.'

Professor Alistair McGuire, head of Social Policy at LSE said:

'This is a thoroughly deserved award for Peter who can honestly have been said not only to have devoted his academic life to 'making poverty history' long before this became a media focus, but also to have initiated a number of practical steps in this long march.

'His willingness to tackle large questions, pursuit of academic excellence, rigour in methodology and eye for policy relevance has been maintained throughout his career making the lifetime element of this award wholly appropriate. Congratulations.'

Professor Townsend recently gave a plenary address to the African Child Policy Forum, presenting arguments from his report on abolition of child poverty and the right to social security - launched in parliament at the end of April and discussed at the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) conference this month in Dublin.

On 20 May Professor Townsend also gave a lecture at Church House Conference Centre, Westminster, entitled 1909-2009: Beatrice Webb and the Future of the Welfare State. This helped launch a new research programme marking the centenary of the publication of the Minority Report on the Royal Commission on the Poor Law, 1905-09.

He has also been re-appointed Honorary Professor of the University of Swansea 2008-10.

Photograph of Dr Tania BurchardtDr Tania Burchardt (pictured), senior research fellow in the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) and academic fellow in the Department of Social Policy said:

'I'm delighted and honoured by this award. It's nice to be classed as a newcomer just when I was beginning to feel like an old hack! I am immensely grateful to all those who make it such a pleasure to be part of the social policy community, especially to my mentors John Hills, David Piachaud and Howard Glennerster.'

Dr Burchardt has worked at LSE since 1995. Her interests include concepts and measurement of inequality and social justice, as well as more applied work on social security and employment policy.

Professor David Donnison was professor of social policy at LSE from 1956-1969. He is now Professor Emeritus in the Department of Urban Studies at Glasgow University. He is of the generation that entered the social policy field with no degree in the subject and no grants to support research as he explains:

'We picked the problems that seemed important to us, learnt about them by talking to the people who experienced them (the pensioners, the council tenants, the families in trouble) and drew on any discipline that seemed capable of helping; writing findings in words that any literate citizen could understand, and getting involved in the work of the state when invited to do so. This was a problem-led field of study, not a discipline. Our aim was - and is - to help in making the world a better place.

'I was delighted to find myself joined with Peter Townsend in these awards, an old friend who continues vividly to represent - and develop - the tradition in which I have tried to play my part, and Tania Burchardt, both because I admire her work, and because her grandfather, Frank Burchardt, was one of the greatest tutors I have had the good fortune to be taught by. Tania: Frank would be proud of you!'

26 June 2008