Academy of Social Sciences Fellowships for St Andrews pair

Thursday 2 March 2023

Two senior staff members from the University of St Andrews have been appointed Fellows of the Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS).

Dr Rebekah Widdowfield, Vice-Principal (People and Diversity), and Professor Paul Hibbert from the School of Management, are among 56 leading social scientists who have been conferred Fellowship this spring (March 2023).

The Fellowships acknowledges highly accomplished individuals recognised for excellence in their fields and their wider contributions to the social sciences for public benefit.

A researcher by background, Dr Widdowfield began her academic career researching homelessness and social exclusion before joining the Scottish Government in 2001 to pursue a more applied research career. In 2008 she became a senior civil servant, supporting and working on a number of advances underpinned by social science.

This included leading the first Carbon assessment of a Government’s financial budget, bringing together natural and social sciences to support a holistic approach to rural and environmental policy, helping develop a number of knowledge brokerage initiatives including the Centre of Expertise on Climate Change, and, as Chief Researcher, supporting the development of social scientists. Before joining the University in 2022, Dr Widdowfield served as Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland’s National Academy.

Dr Widdowfield has also supported a number of national initiatives with social science at their core, including as a founding trustee for the Centre for Homelessness Impact, now a What Works Centre, and as former Chair of the Scottish Policy and Research Exchange.

Dr Widdowfield said: “I feel very honoured to have been elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to use and promote social science throughout my career. Good social science is fundamental to not just understanding the world in which we live but in addressing some of the most complex challenges of our time and I look forward to supporting the work of AcSS in the years ahead.”

Professor Hibbert researches reflexive practice and processes of organising and learning to develop insights for managers and leaders. His research has received awards from the Academy of Management, the Australia and New Zealand Academy of Management, and the British Academy of Management. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, the British Academy of Management, and the Higher Education Academy.

His commitment to service and leadership has included terms as Dean of Arts and Divinity and Vice-Principal for Education at the University of St Andrews, as well as key contributions to equality and wellbeing initiatives. He is also widely involved in leadership and service to journals and learned societies and is currently Editor-in-Chief of both Academy Management Learning & Education and the British Journal of Management.

Professor Hibbert said: “The most touching part of the award is to know that the distinguished people in the field – that you look up to – also think well of you. I am delighted to be honoured in this way, and even more so to receive the Fellowship alongside Rebekah.”

The Academy’s Fellowship is made up of distinguished individuals from the academic, public, private and third sectors, across the full spectrum of the social sciences. Through leadership, scholarship, applied research, policymaking, and practice, they have helped to deepen the understanding of, and address, some of the toughest challenges facing society and the world. All Academy Fellows are conferred following an independent and robust peer review by the Academy’s Nominations Committee.

Will Hutton FAcSS, President of the Academy of Social Sciences, said: “The Academy of Social Sciences is delighted to welcome an excellent range of highly distinguished social scientists from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, England, and beyond. As the work of social science becomes ever more important, we look forward to engaging with them in 2023.”

Issued by the University of St Andrew Communications Office.

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