The Social Science Approaches for Research and Engagement in Health Policy and Systems (SHAPES) Thematic Working Group (TWG) convenes discussions and activities to strengthen and raise the profile of social science approaches for research and engagement within health policy and systems research (HPSR).
SHAPES was launched in 2011 and has developed into a diverse and active community of practice including academic, policymaker and practitioner members from both LMIC and HIC settings. Members have varied interdisciplinary and praxis backgrounds, but a shared conviction that social science has an important role in HPSR and in health systems strengthening.
We seek to build connections between health system actors (researchers, policymakers, health care managers, educators, civil society, ‘community’, the media, and donors), and between existing networks. SHAPES is therefore a diverse TWG that connects members working on and interested in different perspectives and disciplines. Members come from different geographic regions, linguistic and cultural backgrounds, practitioners and researchers, those brand new to the idea of an HPSR field, and those that have been part of the initial field-building experience.
Across this diversity there is a common commitment to the promotion of research, advocacy and intervention approaches that are sensitive to context, amplify voices on the margins, and generate knowledge for real-world change in health policy and systems. In SHAPES, diversity, equity, and transformation are taken very seriously, as areas of research interest and as a shared value.
- Strengthen and raise the profile of social science approaches within the wider field of HPSR
- Foster interaction and build relationships between practitioners, academics and policymakers to strengthen the production and utilization of knowledge for health systems strengthening
- Stimulate learning, innovation and capacity building, in particular for under-resourced researchers
- Support the broader development of HSG and build connections between HSG members.
SHAPES has an active Google Group where members circulate resources and engage in dialogue on social science issues in HPSR. Regular activities include:
- Sharing of information, ideas, experiences and opportunities within the TWG – facilitated by newsletters and shared emails, webinars and journal clubs
- Engaging in currently topical issues – through Conversation Groups led by teams of SHAPES members (current Conversation Groups include: Complexity Science and Systems Thinking, Power, LGBTQI, History, Working Across Disciplines, Policy Analysis, and Participatory Action Research)
- Engaging outside the TWG – through supported publication activities, blogs and webinars
- Support of the broader HSG society – supporting HSG activities, symposia, and connecting to other TWGs.