Oliver Escobar

Oliver Escobar

University of Edinburgh
Senior Lecturer in Public Policy


I received a PhD in Politics from the University of Edinburgh, where I held a Principal’s Career Development Scholarship. My research subject was participatory policy making, with a focus on the everyday work of public engagement practitioners in the context of local democracy.

My first funded research project (2002-2004, European Social Fund and Galician Government) was on public policy to tackle poverty and social exclusion in Galicia (Spain). Over the years I have enjoyed learning as a facilitator and analyst in various policy arenas locally, nationally and internationally. 

Between 2008-2010 I worked at the Dialogue Research Project (Queen Margaret University) helping to set up QMU’s Centre for Dialogue. I am a Public Engagement Fellow of Edinburgh Beltane (UK Beacons for Public Engagement) since 2009, where I am involved in developing  courses, forums and activities in the areas of dialogue and deliberation, public engagement, and policy practice.

Between 2010-2013 I was the Project Officer of the Public Policy Network, where I am still the convener of the Citizen Participation Network. I am also a trained participation practitioner (International Association for Public Participation).

I was the Project Director for the ‘Citizens' Juries about Onshore Windfarms’  funded by ClimateXChange, and recently facilitated a series of Citizens' Juries on Tackling Health Inequalities and helped to develop other deliberative mini-publics

Since 2014, I have worked on mixed methods research and teaching with Prof. Andrew Thompson using data from a large study of the European Commission. I recently concluded the first part of an international study of 'People who make a difference in neighbourhoods' using Q Methodology with colleagues in England, Netherlands and Denmark, which formed the foundation for our current Smart Urban Intermediaries project. 

I contributed to develop So Say Scotland (a hub for participatory politics and democratic innovation), as well as the year-long deliberative process led by the Electoral Reform Society: Democracy Max -An Inquiry into the Future of Scottish Democracy.

In collaboration with the Scottish Community Development Centre, we re-launched the National Standards for Community Engagement (2016) to support the implementation of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.

I carry out participatory and deliberative projects with a range of public and third sector organisations. For instance, I designed and facilitated participatory forums for the COSLA Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy, and deliberative processes for Voluntary Action Scotland / Third Sector Interfaces, and ClimateXChange.