What types of knowledge do policymakers need to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Claire Bynner and Anna Terje

In a recent article published in Evidence & Policy, we explored the use of Aristotle’s three knowledge types: empirical knowledge, technical knowledge and practical wisdom, in the everyday work and decision-making of frontline public service professionals.  

Our qualitative case study of a Scottish local authority revealed the importance of integrating and recognising the different types of knowledge that are needed to respond to complex policy problems, often referred to as ‘wicked’ problems. Understanding the craft of integrating different types of knowledge, and valuing what can be learnt from frontline workers, is key in achieving impactful evidence-informed policy.

In the current context of a rapidly changing policy landscape resulting from COVID-19, making policy decisions informed by the most appropriate types of evidence is crucial. In this blog, we discuss how Aristotle’s knowledge types can help us understand the types of evidence that should be considered in this ever changing landscape.

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