Is there such a thing as common advice for boundary organizations, organizations that link knowledge with decision-making? Let me start by identifying a shared challenge they are facing, despite differences in products and services offered.
We suggest that government funding of basic research should emphasize quality rather than quantity, that the social sciences, multidisciplinary efforts, and projects relevant to Canadian needs should get higher priority, and that the peer system should be improved."
No, this is not the initial recommendation from the Naylor advisory panel that reviewed fundamental science, but it could well have been. Rather, the quote is from the concluding volume of the Senate Special Committee of the Senate on Science Policy in 1977 (otherwise known as the Lamontagne Committee).
The review on fundamental research commissioned by Federal Minister of Science Kristy Duncan has generated significant buzz. It has also resulted in an unprecedented level of consensus among the usually-competitive scientific community, which eagerly awaits next steps.
One day, the U.S. president is taunting North Korea, treating nuclear conflict like it’s WrestleMania. The next, he glibly dismisses racial injustice in America by smearing black athletes engaged in peaceful protest. Other days, he brags about locking Muslims out of the country, scuttling global efforts on climate change, and spurning his country’s closest trading partners, including Canada. Watching it all is exhausting. How should we react in the face of this relentless volley of ignorance and wrong-headed decisions?
Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” It follows that if you understand it well, you must be able to explain it simply. While graduate students develop expertise in writing and communicating to academic and expert audiences in their respective fields, they are rarely encouraged to reach beyond.
Digital, physical, and biological systems are coming together in what is being called the 4th Industrial Revolution. The First Industrial Revolution left governments scrambling to create new laws to match the speed of technological change, and we are witnessing the same lag between technological advances and society's ability to keep pace. The 4th Industrial Revolution is defined as the technological change and innovation being driven by ‘convergence technology’ – the combining of separate technologies and sciences. Consider newly developed gene editing tools such as CRISPR.
A recent poll commissioned by the Ontario Science Centre paints an alarming picture of the public perception of science in Canada (http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/technology/science-attitudes-survey-2017-1.4298800). 43 percent of Canadians believe that scientific findings are a matter of opinion, while 66 percent agree that false information reported as fact ('fake news') is affecting their knowledge of science. The poll does present a silver lining, however.