We are absolutely delighted to announce that Dr Oliver Escobar is the latest addition to our line-up of keynote speakers. Dr Escobar is Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Edinburgh and Co-Director of What Works Scotland, a collaborative research programme to advance public service reform, community empowerment and social justice. He also co-leads Smart Urban Intermediaries, a European project about community development practices in ‘smart cities’; and Distant Voices: Coming Home, an arts-based initiative to change public conversations about criminal justice and (re)integration.

Oliver’s areas of research, teaching and practice are democracy, governance and participation. He holds advisory roles with public and third sector organisations, including Democratic Audit UK, Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, Glasgow City Council, Audit Scotland, Open Government Partnership, Public Square and Inclusion Scotland. He coordinates the Citizen Participation Network, has worked in research projects nationally and internationally, and is involved in developing democratic innovations (i.e. participatory budgeting and mini-publics) across policy arenas in Scotland and beyond. In the last decade, he has delivered over thirty courses in public engagement and facilitation practice for over 400 participants.

Prior to his academic career, Oliver was a radio contributor, published three poetry books, and worked in retail management and as a labourer in the fishing and construction industries. Twitter: @OliverEscobar More: http://www.pol.ed.ac.uk/people/academic_staff/oliver_escobar