Organized by: Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council, Toronto Science Policy Network, Comité intersectoriel étudiant and Science & Policy Exchange
Taylor Morriseau – Indigenous Scholar and PhD Candidate, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba; Member, Chief Science Advisor’s Youth Council
Shawn McGuirk – Senior Policy Advisor, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC); Past President and Director; Science and Policy Exchange
Sivani Baskaran – Past President, Toronto Science Policy Network; PhD Candidate, University of Toronto
Dr. Uzma Urooj – Senior Policy Advisor, Innovation, Science & Economic Development; Co-Chair, Evaluation Committee, Canadian Science Policy Centre
Sarah Bitter – Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ)
Moderator: Rachael Maxwell – Executive Director, Evidence for Democracy
Context: In Canada, there is a growing interest among trainees and early-career researchers to build skills in the science policy interface, but there are limited opportunities to do so. While the limited number of student-run science policy organizations and science advisory bodies fill a critical gap, they do not have the capacity to engage the ever-growing number of next generation science policy leaders. This panel brought together speakers from different groups to discuss their experiences with these policy and advisory groups, the challenges and successes they have encountered, and how to further build and broaden science policy capacity in Canada.
Student-led groups and youth advisory bodies can provide unique insights into science policy. These types of groups have recently begun to grow exponentially in Canada.
The perspective of trainees and early career researchers, as the next generation of researchers and experts across sectors, is particularly connected to the immediate needs of the current policy environment.
Student-led groups face unique challenges including passing down organizational knowledge as students graduate and move on to the next steps in their career paths, as well as the constant conflict of seeking to achieve impactful goals with a low operational capacity. This is compounded by the restricted pools of applicants (in some groups, members are only allowed to be from specific institutions) and the fast-moving policy developments that can outpace the amount of time students can dedicate as volunteers. Groups can be paired with an official office to help with long term sustainability.
It is important to look at who is not at the table of science policy discussions and continue to move towards more equitable and diverse representations of perspectives.
It’s important to make involvement in science policy initiatives more accessible to students by changing the culture and values surrounding different types of extracurricular work. For example, short-term internships can provide opportunities for development without requiring significant time commitments.
Response time can be sped up by having open communication channels between students and leaders.
Create better linkages between employers and science policy practitioners, especially with those who have gained experience in science policy through their own initiative and involvement with grassroots organizations.
Encourage student involvement and reduce barriers for their participation in programs & initiatives outside of academia (e.g., attending CSPC!)
Create and/or support accessible, low-burden opportunities for next generation researchers to get engaged and have their voices heard in science policy.
Expand funding nation-wide for student groups to help organizations develop their internal capacities and reduce the difficulties of knowledge transfer.
Ensure that the platforms and activities through which the next generation can gain experience, knowledge and skills in science policy are inclusive, accessible and equitable for all.
Integrate the next generation into the governance of decision-making bodies.
Support the sustainability of science policy groups, networks, and organizations.
Organized by: Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI)
Alejandro Adem – President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
Ana Watson – PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, University of Calgary
Shweta Ganapati – Policy Analyst, NSERC
Marga Gual Soler – Senior Science Diplomacy Advisor, Young Global Leader
Marc D’Iorio – Assistant Deputy Minister of the Science and Technology Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada
Marcos Regis da Silva – Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research
Context: This interactive session explored a unique approach to science-policy collaboration between Canada and the intergovernmental organization IAI to develop skills in early career researchers to address global environmental change in Latin America and the Caribbean. Panelists shared their experience as fellows participating in an Inter-American capacity building network as well as Canadian institutions serving as hosts and mentors to the next generation of science, technology, and policy leaders.
Inter-American Institute (IAI) for Global Change Research has been instrumental in establishing Canadian relationships with the rest of the Americas, as well as in supporting open transdisciplinary science on global environmental change to inform policymakers.
Canada has a role to play in enabling a diverse and inclusive next generation of science policy leaders to address urgent environmental global challenges, through bridging science and policy. We rely on the future generation to bridge the polarity of the science policy world right now and address urgent challenges.
The pandemic has introduced new ways of collaborating internationally, but it has also limited connection with colleagues.
Recently, the Mitacs Canadian Science Policy Fellowship program joined IAI as an Associate, opening up the door for Mitacs CSPF to join the Science Technology and Policy (STeP) Fellowship. The STeP Fellowship was created to train scientists from countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in science diplomacy.
Placements allow individuals with the knowledge of science and an interest in policy to engage in science policy. These highly motivated individuals come with fresh knowledge of science and engineering since they are new graduates. These types of arrangements can add value to the company as a whole, especially when the institution creates a culture of inclusiveness and creativity where the Fellow can bring their “whole self” to work .
In Canada, we are working towards reconciliation. It is important to work and collaborate respectfully and ethically.
When we share our experiences with other countries, we gain their input and assistance. Science is a knowledge system and we must respectfully bring knowledge systems together.
There is a commitment by the Government of Canada to use science and to implement an integrity policy. Sharing open science to mobilize our knowledge will be critical.
Transdisciplinarity, communication and networking are key skills that should be developed by individuals interested in science policy. It’s important to be open to doing science in other ways and to gain an understanding of other knowledge systems.
We are facing global challenges and the next generation is conscious that we have to engage and include all voices in research. How can we incorporate these voices? Creating partnerships and working with the next generation are crucial elements of collaboration, and fellowships can provide a space for building necessary skills.
Andrew Weaver – Former MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Green Party of British Columbia leader
Bhutila Karpoche – Member, Provincial Parliament for Parkdale–High Park
Preston Manning – Founder and the only leader, Reform Party of Canada
Ted Hsu – Member of Parliament, Kingston and the Islands
Moderator: Monika Stolar – Co-Founder, Elect STEM
Context: Elect STEM offered a workshop modeled after the popular TV show “Dragon’s Den” – the Lion’s Den. We asked pre-selected participants to give a 3-minute pitch on a desired political intervention driven by their science. This would be an intervention that would need to be passed as a bill or motion at any level of government anywhere in the country. Our panel of Lions evaluated each participant’s proposal, providing educational feedback for our audience on how to pitch science policy to politicians. Participants received constructive feedback from our Lions and a hypothetical motion to their proposal. The motions of each proposal were made by a combination of an audience poll and the ‘expert judgement’ of the Lions.
Science communication is the practice of informing, educating and raising awareness of science-related topics or issues.
There are two types of science communication: outreach, which is between professional scientists and non-expert audiences, and inreach, which is between experts.
Science communication is typically used to generate support for scientific research or education and inform policy decision making, including political thought.
There are a few things to consider when communicating science policy, including understanding the audience, having good timing, and having actionable recommendations.
It’s important to identify how science plays a role in resolving difficult policy, explain why the issue and science are important, and build trust and increase credibility of science.
Pitches given to the Lion’s Den addressed topics in health policy: managing mTBIs in prison inmates, establishing a caregiver fellowship program for healthcare students, and using synthetic biology to address the sustainability goals of the UN.
Talk about the financial aspect of policy. This was a missing aspect in the pitches. Scientists often don’t talk about this, and this is relevant to the politicians listening.
Instead of starting at the source (e.g., what the scientists are interested in), start with what the politician or your audience is interested in. This will help the politician relate to the content and give them ideas for how they will communicate the issue to the media and their constituents.
What is the benefit of the policy? Politicians want to hear solutions to the problem that will save them money.
Policymakers like a written product – consider organization, brevity and clarity. Use visuals to support your writing.
Know your audience’s political motives and make sure that you are taking this into account.
It can be helpful to include personal stories. This brings a human aspect to your pitch and will help people remember what you said.
Organized by: University of Regina (Natasha Gallant and Logan Lawrence)
Deepa Singal – Director of Scientific and Data Initiatives at Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance
Meghan McMahon – Associate Director with CIHR’s Institute of Health Services and Policy Research & Assistant Professor with Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation at the University of Toronto
Adalsteinn Brown – Dean of Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto
Tara Sampalli – Senior Scientific Director for Nova Scotia Health
Moderator: Diane Finegood – Executive Director of Canadian Health Services and Policy Research Alliance and Researcher at Morris J Wosk Center for Dialogue, Simon Fraser University
Context: Intersection between science and policy is an important one. Bringing science to policy allows for the development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-informed policies. Bringing policy to science provides an opportunity to produce impact-oriented research. This workshop discussed specific opportunities for early career researchers (ECR) in the field of science policy with a special emphasis on science policy fellowships where researchers at various stages, especially ECRs, get embedded within policy environments. Such fellowships offer a window into the challenges faced by policy makers, multitude of factors that go into decision making, and the role of research in policy development. The panel consisted of speakers who were part of one such policy fellowship: Health System Impact Fellowship.
Health Systems Impact Fellowship is an embedded fellowship training program which aims to maximize career readiness of Canadian PhD and postdoctoral fellows for a diverse array of sectors beyond university and increase research capacity within health system organizations.
The motivation behind the embedded policy fellowship came from a need amongst PhD researchers who wanted their research to have a broader impact on health policy. Such fellowships emphasize the value that research brings to evidence-based policymaking.
Through embedded fellowships, participants learn about the complexities behind evidence-informed policymaking, they develop skills like strategic planning and management and engaging with multiple stakeholders, and they get hands-on experience of how policy makers take evidence into account. Embedded fellowships also consist of a mentorship component with senior-level policy makers. Networking opportunities and cohort-building activities are also offered.
Such policy-based fellowships are instrumental to driving a cultural change within industries, government organizations, and universities. There has been a consistently increasing demand for embedded fellows who bring their research expertise and evidence to the decision making process.
Success indicators in academia vs real-world organizations are different. Managing and balancing the expectations of each can be challenging for fellows.
Exit-surveys amongst fellows and alumni of this fellowship must be done to understand the career trajectories of the fellows and the skills that they are using in their roles after the fellowship.
Create a new career path model for hybrid careers (researcher-policymaker) that can act as a guide for researchers interested in such roles. This model can define new standards for what the definition of success might look like in this format.
Encourage applicants from different backgrounds in order to diversify the network of current cohorts and establish new connections with different stakeholders.
Create a better system where fellows can function as full members of the academy while preparing students at the front end of academia by developing courses that make such career options more visible.
Generate more positions by creating funding structures to embed scholars in policy-making positions.
Sébastien Dallaire – President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation
Jean-Pierre Perreault – President, Acfas
Catherine Girard – Professor of microbiology, Université du Québec à Chicoutim
Philipe Mongrain – PhD student, Université de Montréal
Moderator: Roseann O’Reilly Runte – President and CEO, Canada Foundation for Innovation
Context: To shed light on the relationship of Canada’s youth to science and their preferred sources of scientific information, the CFI and Acfas hired the national polling firm Ipsos to look at the attitudes of youth toward science and at the conditions and people who shape them.
This survey was conducted in a public environment where social media, fake news, and unreliable sources can strongly influence the development of attitudes and belief systems among young people that can stay with them for life, potentially directly impacting their career, health, and societal choices.
This panel unveiled the survey results and discussed some of the key drivers influencing Canadian youth and their attitudes about science.
The level of scientific knowledge that an individual possesses influences their attitude towards science.
The increasing dependence of societies on the knowledge of experts and technocrats is believed to create a sense of alienation among citizens.
Besides education, variables such as an individual’s political orientation and religious beliefs also influence their trust in science.
Youth are aware of the existence of solid science and pseudoscience.
Based on the survey, youth can be divided into four segments: those who promote science, those who trust science, those who follow science, and those who question science.
On average, youth use social media for at least four hours every day.
An individual’s beliefs in science are influenced by the people around them. Changes to their beliefs usually occur through outside influence.
Increase scientific literacy by increasing an individual’s confidence in science.
Recognize the different segments of youth and act accordingly. For example, empower science promotion, encourage trust in science, educate those who follow science and connect those who question science through science communication.
Educate and encourage adults who influence youth through science promotion and communication.
Use social media as a method to communicate with youth about science.
Science Policy is inclusive of both policy for science and science for policy. Policy for Science focuses on management of science enterprises, i.e., the generation of new knowledge, the development of new technology, capacity building, training highly qualified personnel and research infrastructure. In general, the key targets of policy for science are post-secondary institutions, research funding organizations and government science-based departments and agencies. Science for policy is the application and use of scientific research and knowledge to inform evidence-based decisions for public policy and regulations in all policy areas, not limited to but including public-interest policy priorities such as health, environment, national security, education, and criminal justice and others.
Innovation Policy Definition
Innovation Policy focuses on putting the outputs of research (knowledge, technology) into use for broad socio-economic benefits. Innovation policies generally support and promote technology transfer, product, process development, validation, commercialization and scale up, national and regional innovation systems with the objective of improving productivity and competitiveness and driving economic growth and job creation. Social innovation is considered as an integral part of innovation policy. CSPC encourages nominations from all disciplines of science (natural sciences and engineering, social and human sciences, and health sciences) and from all sectors (governments at all levels, academia, private and non-profit sectors, media, and others).