Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Economics researchers take on key roles in new Interdisciplinary Research Spotlights

Header image for article

Economics researchers take on key roles in new Interdisciplinary Research Spotlights

Two members of the Department are taking on leadership roles in the University’s Research Spotlight programme, a new programme designed to promote collaborative work on urgent global challenges.

Professor Daniel Sgroi has been appointed Chair of the new interdisciplinary Behaviour Spotlight, and Professor Thijs van Rens is a member of the leadership team for the Health Spotlight.

A total of six interdisciplinary ‘Research Spotlights’ have been created. Each of them identifies a major global challenge: “They are all serious interdisciplinary areas that are going to make a big difference,” Daniel explains. “The University has asked, ‘what are the big issues facing the world?’ and decided to put a spotlight on each of them and bring people from every department together to work on them.

“This is important because most of the world’s big problems are problems that can only really be solved by disciplines working together – for example, how we deal with climate change, how we tackle political polarisation, how we handle pandemics.

“We know from COVID that medics worked with behavioural scientists so that they didn’t just develop vaccines, they developed strategies to ensure people would take them.

“Our Behaviour Spotlight aims to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration between behavioural researchers that seek to understand and address some of the biggest problems faced by the world today.

“We can provide seed funding for pilot experiments or to kick-start projects, we can create and financially support new seminar series, workshops and conferences, and help fund early-stage research.

“We have a big network already, inherited from the Behaviour, Brain & Society GRP, but we now want to reach across the whole university. We’ll be inviting anyone doing behavioural research at Warwick to join us as part of our mission to build a university-wide network of active researchers.”

A new Health Spotlight has also been created. Professor Thijs van Rens is one of four academics on the leadership team. He said:

"There are many people at University working on research that is relevant to health, at Warwick Medical School, of course, but also in Business, Chemistry, Economics, Engineering, English, History, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology, Statistics and probably other departments as well.

“Our aim is to build the network and infrastructure to bring these people together so that together we can make better progress on the big questions that cannot be addressed from a single discipline.

“Some of the interdisciplinary areas that we will focus on are technologies in health, prevention and public health, mental health and wellbeing, and interdisciplinary methodologies. Warwick has strengths in all of these areas, and we hope that by providing a supportive environment for collaboration, we can further build on these strengths and encourage ‘blue-skies’ research ideas.”

“My own research on healthy and sustainable diets has made me realise how the quality of the research can benefit from an interdisciplinary team, and how much it helps to secure funding for that research."

Professor Ben Lockwood, Head of the Economics Department, said “I am delighted that Daniel and Thijs have been appointed to these leadership roles and will be contributing to the University’s ambitious interdisciplinary research programme.”

The Spotlight programme is intended to run for at least 10 years and is an indication of the University’s long-term commitment to world-changing research.