Simon Burall


Simon Burall is the Director of Involve. He has long and extensive experience in the fields of democratic reform, open government, public participation, stakeholder engagement, accountability and transparency, scientific and technology innovation and organisational change. He has worked at the local and national level in Africa, Asia and Europe as well as on related issues of global governance and democracy.

In his role with Involve, Simon has worked with and advised many organisations including Number 10, the Cabinet Office, the Scottish Government, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Department of Health, the Department for Energy and Climate Change, NHS England, the UK Civil Society Network on Open Government, UNDP, OECD, the World Bank, the European Economic and Social Council, as well as at local level with numerous local authorities and other public bodies.

Simon has published extensively on issues related to democracy, participation, accountability and transparency.

Simon is currently a member of the Public Engagement with Research Advisory Panel for Research Councils UK and a Fellow WWF UK. He was Head of Dialogue and a member of the Programme Board for Sciencewise between 2012 and 2016, and a member of the Steering Committee from 2010-2012.

He was a trustee and member of Council for Voluntary Services Overseas from 1997-2007, and a Trustee and Chair of Democratic Audit, 2008-2014.

Before moving to Involve Simon was a Research Fellow at ODI from 2006 – 2009. His interests included stakeholder engagement in the reform of the international aid delivery system and the effectiveness of development finance. Prior to this he was the Executive Director of the One World Trust from 1999 – 2005 where he initiated and oversaw the development of the influential Global Accountability Index. Simon has taught English in Namibia and science in Zimbabwe, and was an election monitor in Bosnia Herzegovina after the Dayton Agreement.

Simon has a BA in Natural Sciences and a PGCE from Cambridge University, and an MSc in Development Studies from SOAS.

Associated programmes

Blog posts


Reframing the debate

June 27, 2016

There are many on the Remain side of the vote who are now feeling, perhaps for the first time, the sense of alienation, economic uncertainty and anger that many on the Leave side have felt for 20-30 years. What has become even clearer after Thursday’s vote is that the debate has never been about Europe…

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New project launched: supporting better consultation in Lanarkshire

June 23, 2016

Involve, working with our associate Diane Beddoes, is providing support to NHS Lanarkshire for the public consultation around their new draft Healthcare Strategy. This new strategy, developed by NHS Lanarkshire in partnership with North and South Lanarkshire Councils, is designed to improve the provision of health and social care in Lanarkshire and improve the health outcomes for the…

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After the referendum, what happens next?

June 22, 2016

It’s the day before the EU referendum and the vote is still too close to call. It genuinely could go either way. Indeed, at this point, the only thing that it is possible to say with any certainty is that the debate has not helped the UK to reach a shared vision for the future…

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Whatever the vote, it’s time for something different

June 10, 2016

This letter in the Guardian, from Professor Giles from the University of Nottingham, highlights the folly of referendums. The challenge he lays down to parliament is to determine what the country is voting for if the result on the 24th June is to leave the EU: “the referendum question does not specify the range of…

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Scientific Infantilism

May 10, 2016

This recent article in the Telegraph* about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement is an interesting read for many reasons. In examining the impact of globalisation on the working class it draws the clear conclusion that we must rebalance our societies away from free-trade at all costs and back towards strengthening Parliamentary democracy.…

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Science, Society and Engagement – an e-anthology

May 6, 2016

Science, Society and Engagement is an e-anthology published by Involve to capture learning from the Engage2020[i] project on public engagement in research and technological innovation across Europe. There is a growing acceptance worldwide that engaging citizens in dialogue about issues that affect them improves the quality, legitimacy and sustainability of policy and decision making.  In response…

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ScienceWise Sounding Board Report – Low-carbon Heating Technologies

May 4, 2016

  In February 2016 ScienceWise undertook a public dialogue project for the Committee on Climate Change to help them gain a better understanding of public views and concerns relating to low-carbon heating technologies. The dialogue was delivered using ScienceWise’s new on-line engagement tool the Sounding Board. This is a tool is designed to bring small…

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Methods, Methods everywhere… Engage2020 Action Catalogue

May 2, 2016

The Engage2020 Action Catalogue is an online tool designed help researchers, policy-makers and others wanting to engage with the public on technical or scientific issues to find the method best suited to their needs. In Science, Society and Engagement (an e-Anthology published as part of the Engage2020 project) one of the conclusions the authors draw…

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Public consultations do not currently enable all stakeholders to effectively contribute to the legislative process | British Politics and Policy at LSE

April 27, 2016

"In a recent study, Helen Taylor and Axel Kaehne looked at responses to the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill to consider how effective the public consultation process is at incorporating wider expertise into the legislative process. The findings highlighted a number of issues relating to both the nature of responses and the way in…

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