Summertime blues? Far from it, as SCSC members write, talk and impact their way forward

The summer break hasn’t meant that members of the Sussex Centre for the Study of Corruption (SCSC) have been twiddling their thumbs; far from it, as Dan Hough reports back on.

Corruption doesn’t take a summer break and neither does the SCSC. There’s been plenty going on. Firstly, Olli Hellmann convened the first annual conference of the Political Studies Association’s specialist group on Corruption and Political Misconduct (see here for the programme). The event took place on 27-28 August in the Freeman Centre on campus. Olli Hellmann himself presented a paper on why anti-corruption interventions fail, whilst Liz David-Barrett (together with Mihaly Fazekas from Cambridge) analysed the relationship between ‘safe seats’ and possible incidences of corruption in local government in the UK. Hellmann then combined forces with one of Sussex’s burgeoning cohort of PhD students, Lets Monyake, to give a paper on corruption and violence in Africa. Finally, Liljana Cvetanoska, another Sussex PhD student, also got in on the act, presenting her research on EU conditionality and anti-corruption in Macedonia.

The SCSC’s newest faculty member, Liz David-Barrett, has been active on a number of other fronts. She’s been responding to her well-received report on ‘Lifting the Lid on Lobbying’. She’s also been on the other side of the pond, analysing (alongside Paul Heywood) whether open government was more accountable government at the American Political Studies Association’s (APSA) annual jamboree in San Francisco. Liz, alongside Dan Hough and John Child, has also all been working with the Cabinet Office to help them think about where the UK is going in terms of its own anti-corruption infrastructure.

August 2015 saw Sussex’s third cohort of MA in Corruption and Governance students come to the end of their 12 month programme, but that didn’t stop some of them from taking part in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event with Nick Maxwell and other members of Transparency International UK on 4 September. The Sussex guys were encouraged to ‘pitch’ anti-corruption ideas and to explain what they would do if they had the ear of the UK Prime Minister. Sam Power made a strong case for pushing ahead with reform of how UK politics is financed, whilst Ben Halton made an equally impassioned plea for more work to be done on the UK’s ‘open data’ agenda. Matt Broderick argued that the EU’s transparency directive needed to be made to work in practice, and that encouraging states to do this could be in the UK government’s interests with regard to its own attempts to reform the EU, whilst David Ugolor, Sussex MA student recently appointed as advisor to the African Bar Association (AFBA), argued that the UK needed to improve its coordination efforts with other countries. The ‘dragons’ were listened on with interest.

SCSC members have also been publishing their work in academic and non-academic outlets alike. Liz David-Barrett (alongside Ken Okamura) published an article on norm diffusion and reputation in ‘Governance’, one of the leading journals in the field, whilst Dan Hough and Serena Verdenicci have had their work on citizens and anti-corruption accepted for publication in Crime Law and Social Change. A number of SCSC members have also been active in writing in, and speaking to, the media;

September 2015 sees a fourth cohort of MA students join the 11 PhD students and half dozen staff members in the SCSC. Given that corruption hardly seems to be going out of fashion and given that the SCSC’s role in analysing it seems to be increasing in scope, another busy term undoubtedly lies on the horizon.