UWE awards honorary degree to Gillian Smith

Issue date: 25 July 2011

UWE Awards Ceremony at Bristol Cathedral

The University of the West of England will award the Honorary Degree of Master of Science to Gillian Smith in recognition of her significant contribution to the furtherance of the importance of social research within transport studies.

The Honorary Degree will be conferred at the Awards Ceremony of the Faculty of Environment and Technology on Tuesday 26 July 2011 at Bristol Cathedral.

Born in Chorley, Lancashire, and educated at Southlands High School, Chorley, Gillian Smith graduated from Sheffield University in Sociology in the 1970s. Gillian joined the Government Social Research Service in 1979 and much of her early career was spent with the Department of Employment. In the early 1990s Gillian also undertook a secondment to work on a Council of Europe project.

In 1994, Gillian moved to the Department of the Environment to head up a team providing research and advice on inner cities and urban issues, actively influencing policy development in these areas in an evidence-based way. A major achievement during this period was the development and publication of the Index of Multiple Deprivation, with Michael Noble and a team from the University of Oxford. This methodology continues to be used by the Government as a means of identifying areas of England with high levels of economic and social deprivation.

In 1998, Gillian undertook an ESRC funded secondment to the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion at the London School of Economics, publishing a paper and policy briefing on the rationale for area-based initiatives to tackle multiple problems.

Gillian joined the Department for Transport in 2001 and soon afterwards became their Head of Profession for social research and a member of the Government Social Research Leadership Board. During her time in the Department Gillian established a social research and evaluation function, successfully championing the need for long term investment in high quality social research and evaluation. She has directed influential policy papers and Ministerial briefings across a wide range of issues, for example, on the effectiveness of policy options for incentivising and promoting sustainable travel, and reducing the carbon footprint of travel.

As a champion of social research evidence, Gillian has been influential in ensuring that transport policies effectively balance the sometimes competing needs of different groups in society.


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