Jonathan Black – who has served as the prime minister’s G7 and G20 sherpa, and as deputy national security adviser – has become the second “Heywood Fellow”, a research posting created in memory of late cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood.
Black has begun a period of special leave from the civil service to take up the fellowship, in which he will research the intersection of economic prosperity and national-security policy at Oxford University’s Blavatnkik School of Government and Hertford College.
Suzanne Heywood, widow of Sir Jeremy – who died in 2018 at the age of 56 – and chair of the Heywood Foundation, said the issues Black would be researching were fundamental to peace and prosperity.
“We are delighted that Jonathan Black will be the next Heywood Fellow,” she said.
“The thinking he will be doing affects an increasingly critical area of policymaking for all governments and Jonathan is exceptionally well positioned to bring new insights to this. Jeremy would be thrilled by both Jonathan’s appointment and the topic that he will be researching.”
Black’s posting, which lasts until December, will consider how policymaking needs to change in light of the evolving context of science and technology, trade and investment, climate and health, and global and geopolitical trends.
Black, who has been a civil servant for two decades, said taking on the fellowship was a “real privilege”.
“Jeremy championed a culture of problem-solving for the most systemic policy challenges,” he said of the late cabinet secretary. “The focus for the fellowship this year is inspired by that.
“Our national security and economic interests are interconnected as never before – and global and geopolitical trends mean they will only become more so. We need to make sure we have the right policymaking processes to keep up with this much more complex and changing context.”
The Heywood Fellowship was created to offer a senior civil servant, such as a permanent secretary or director general, the opportunity to explore issues relating to public service and policy outside of the immediate responsibility of their government duties.
Former chief Brexit negotiator and Department for Exiting the European Union perm sec Sir Olly Robbins was the inaugural Heywood Fellow.
Separately, the Heywood Foundation is currently seeking policy ideas to improve life in the UK as part of its annual Heywood Prize.
The competition, which offers winners £25,000 and the chance of their idea being implemented by government, is open to submissions until 28 February.
The winning idea from 2020-21 – the creation of the NHS Reserve Force – has been applied by the health service and is already making a difference, the foundation said.