Trushar Patel – Canada Research Chair and Associate Professor, University of Lethbridge
Matt Jeneroux – Member of Parliament, Edmonton Riverbend
Valorie Crooks – Professor & Canada Research Chair, Simon Fraser University
Dominique Robert – Professor and Canada Research Chair in Fisheries Ecology, Université du Québec à Rimouski
Catherine L. Mah – Canada Research Chair in Promoting Healthy Populations and Associate Professor, Dalhousie University
Rosa Galvez – Senator, Québec (Bedford)
Moderator: Matt McTaggart – Assistant professor, Dept of Chemistry and Chem Engineering, Royal Military College of Canada
Context: In 2018, the Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) and Dr. Mona Nemer, Canada’s Chief Science Advisor initiated Science meets Parliament, an event that invited thirty of Canada’s top researchers to share their knowledge and passion for science and innovation while learning about Parliamentary politics and policymaking during a day of meetings with federal MPs and Senators on Parliament Hill. Organizers, past participants, and Parliamentarians related their experiences, discussed the impacts of the program, and considered the challenges and the benefits of strengthening the relationship between scientific research and public policy. Mutual understanding, open communication, and lasting connection can result when Science meets Parliament.
Science Meets Parliament was initially an Australian program that has been adapted for Canada with the aim being to establish and grow relationships between researchers and Canadian federal parliamentarians. In the inaugural 2018 campaign, the research delegates consisted of 30 active CRC Tier 2 researchers across Canada and the parliamentarians consisted of 35 MPs and 8 senators.
Training sessions were held for researchers on parliament operations and effective communication of science, with a focus on building personal relationships between scientists and the parliamentarians. Sessions included one-on-one meetings, shadowing of parliamentarians by researchers, attending committee meetings, and group discussions between both parties.
CRC Tier 2 researchers are the focus of the program, as they have students who they can pass the policy lessons on to and they can foster connections between science and policy going forward.
Members of both sides of science and policy gained a greater level of understanding of the other’s work and the program helped develop relationships between researchers and parliamentarians that continue to help both sides integrate science and policy.
Researchers received a good education in science communication, particularly in presenting science to parliamentarians and less knowledgeable audiences. They have implemented what they learned by communicating their science to stakeholders at different levels and advocating for students to consider policy when conducting their research.
Researchers gained a better understanding of the channels through which scientific information is taken up by parliamentarians and how science information is evaluated to determine if it should be included in policy. This helps researchers better target their research for higher impact.
Parliament should also meet science. This program brings researchers to the parliamentarian environment, but parliamentarians involved with Science Meets Parliament agree that the opposite should also occur to better educate elected officials on science.
Policy and science communication considerations should be implemented into teaching and research at universities.
A notable barrier to developing a connection between researchers and parliamentarians is that universities don’t place value on science communication or science policy outputs from faculty members. To better develop relationships between these two fields and bridge science and policy, universities need to consider policy and science communication work when evaluating faculty research output.
To better help the public and parliamentarians understand the impact of science, researchers should speak in broader terms regarding the impact of their science and move beyond the niche focus of their individual research.
Organized by: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Thandi Mgwebi – Deputy Vice- Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Internationalisation, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Toby Wardman – Head of Communications, SAPEA
Barbara Willaarts – Project Manager and Research Scholar, Water Security Research Group at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Dr. Danika Goosney – Vice-President of Research Grants and Scholarships, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
Moderator: Nicole Arbour – Executive Director, Belmont Forum
Context: More than ever, the world’s wicked problems, including climate change, global inequalities, and the 2030 sustainable development goals, require experts to work together effectively across disciplines, geopolitical borders, and silos. What are transdisciplinary skill sets, and how do we foster them in our research community? How do we provide researchers with the right links and opportunities? How can we enable and empower the next generation of researchers to work across disciplines? This panel brought together experts working across sectors towards transdisciplinary research. They discussed experiences, challenges and proposed solutions to support transdisciplinary research within academia.
Having multiple perspectives can help contribute to more robust solutions.
Transdisciplinary research provides a number of benefits. Different types of knowledge can be integrated and used to redefine and reconsider problems. However, this type of research can be challenging as well. Defining the boundaries of a problem can be especially difficult when working with multiple disciplines.
Funders can help design interdisciplinary programs and establish partnerships.
Effective communication can be challenging in interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary programs. Science communication is not just about explaining; it should actively involve the listener as well.
Figuring out how to optimize change is a major goal for transdisciplinary research.
Engage with people who work in transdisciplinary settings and transfer new knowledge between sectors.
Scientists should advise non-scientists as a key part of science communication. Transdisciplinary researchers should consider taking on advisory roles to ensure the lines of communication between science and policy remain open and relevant.
Provide proper training on how to present sensitive information.
University funding should focus on a variety of researchers in different areas. Incentives should be provided to encourage transdisciplinary environments.
The first step in transdisciplinary research should be to establish project goals. Researchers from different backgrounds should collaborate to determine the goals of a project.
Scott Weese – Scientist/Researcher, University Of Guelph
Bernadette Dunham – Professional Lecturer, The George Washington University
Mary Jane Ireland – Executive Director of the Animal Health Directorate, Policy and Programs Branch, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
Baljit Singh – Vice-President Research, University of Saskatchewan (USask)
Paula I. Fujiwara – Former Scientific Director, International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union)
Katherine Heyland – Program Manager, University of Guelph
Sean Hiller – Scientist/Researcher, York University
Moderator: Francisco Olea-Popelka – Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Context: The One Health approach should become fundamental to the ways in which we direct, fund, conduct and speak about health science in Canada and the world. The science policy community has a role to play in this realignment of how science is conducted and how science (knowledge) is used to guide/influence policy making, and how we train the next generation of thought leaders. The science policy community can look to the growing network of proponents in universities and agencies who model and advocate for this One Health approach to health science.
One Health is a multidisciplinary and interconnected approach, but it can be challenging to apply to real world problems because it lacks a reputable funding network, is susceptible to a multitude of complex global problems and lacks public attention, resulting in decreased attention and momentum. However, professionals in various fields are working hard to utilize the One Health approach in the face of human, animal and environmental problems.
One Health acknowledges that human health is connected to the health of animals and the environment around us.
Actions which exemplify the One Health approach include the ethical engagement of Indigenous communities, innovation through the development of alternatives to current technologies, and coordination and organization of responses to issues.
Communicating at the community, state and bureaucratic levels as well as building a national network will facilitate a One Health response in the face of new looming challenges and advance emergency preparedness.
The next new emerging threats could include respiratory illnesses, water security, or food safety, and a One Health approach can help mitigate the repercussions of these issues.
Use social media to communicate succinct knowledge to the general public.
One Health needs a marketing plan to gain recognition and buzz, similar to what’s been done with climate change messaging.
Build trust and relationships to engage with issues like climate change. Listen and learn from one another to work and solve real world problems.
It is imperative to get the message of One Health out to the younger generation to incentivize innovation and encourage citizen-led science projects.
It is important to find informed, diverse and educated leaders to guide One Health.
Marcius Extavour – Vice President, Energy & Climate, XPRIZE Foundation
Brenda Kenny – Chair, Board of Directors, Alberta Innovates
Moderator: Monica Gattinger – Full Professor, School of Political Studies, and Director, Institute for Science, Society and Policy, University of Ottawa
Context: Canada faces a host of grand challenges, from climate change to the repercussions of COVID-19 to economic and social inequality. Mission-driven research and innovation offers a powerful way to address these challenges. What is mission-driven research and innovation? Does Canada have what it takes to do it? What has the country tried in the past and what should we do going forward? This session aimed to answer these questions. Leaders from business, government, academia and civil society shared their perspectives on the opportunities and challenges before Canada, along with the country’s current and past strengths and limitations in mission-driven research and innovation.
There is a growing consensus that mission-driven research needs to play a key role in innovation and science policy.
Mission-based innovation approaches should be urgent and cross-sectoral, and foster experimentation and risk-taking.
Many grand challenges are international in scope, and focusing on domestic R&D may hinder the international cooperation needed to develop effective missions for these challenges.
Canada must develop cohesive road maps with clear goals in order for mission-oriented approaches to work.
If CARPA becomes a reality, the key to its success is to have a clear focus and independence.
Canada should redirect the funding for the SR&ED tax credit to a mission-oriented approach to innovation.
Better funding models and cooperation are needed between funders and researchers to enable mission-oriented innovation.
Integrating Indigenous knowledge is key to creating substantive value from the missions aiming to tackle some of Canada’s biggest challenges.
Integrating an effective mission-oriented approach to policy can protect the scientific enterprise and build better cooperation between science and policy.
Ketie Sandhu – Director, Value Added Branch & Food Safety and Inspection Branch, Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development
Bernard Cantin – Director, Policy Analysis Division,, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
John Cranfield – Associate Dean (External Relations), Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph
Nardia Ali – Manager, Compliance Promotion and Expert Support, Environmental Protection Operations Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada
Moderator: Elizabeth Shantz – Knowledge Mobilization Manager, Research Innovation Office, University of Guelph
The challenges of evidence-based policymaking and science-policy exchange are well documented and can be difficult to overcome. University of Guelph developed an innovative initiative designed to tackle these challenges by connecting decision-makers in government, industry, and civil society with academic experts for dialogue and knowledge exchange – the Policy Fellowship Program, supported by the Canada First Research Excellence program, Food from Thought.
In this session, the program manager and past participants shared insights and lessons learned from the perspectives of both academia and policy about creating structures and conditions that support knowledge transfer and relationship-building for mutual and societal benefit.
The evolution of science has led to changes in how decision making works. Knowledge exchange is a key aspect of this.
A lack of synchronization between research and policy development can lead to difficulties in knowledge exchange. There may be a lack of awareness about relevant ongoing research and an inability to find evidence when it is needed by policymakers.
Policy makers do not necessarily have the ability to access research information and data (which can serve as evidence for decision making) in real-time, as researchers sometimes hoard data until it is published. This can lead to difficulties in having up-to-date, well-informed policy.
There are differences in the priorities of the science sector versus the public sector (e.g., the publishing requirements in academia are not relevant for evidence gathering in policy making), which means that sometimes academic research is irrelevant to policy making.
Clear differences exist in the training and approaches used in academia as opposed to the government. This can make it difficult to have appropriate and open dialogues between science and policy.
An inability to make sense of the available information, a lack of knowledge of where to find evidence when it is needed by policy makers and lengthy research times can make it difficult to get the necessary evidence to address public issues that require quick solutions.
Unintended outcomes of policies often don’t become an issue until after a policy is already enacted. Science can help predict these outcomes and build more realistic and achievable goals with defined timelines.
Base decision making on scientific evidence. Decisions made using evidence are more resilient to other variables and can also help bolster public trust.
Help people understand why issues are important and how policy will affect certain issues. Provide researchers with information about where there are gaps in evidence so they can prioritize their research in important areas.
Hold one-on-one discussions and small conversations in specific areas so that researchers and decision makers can have a more in-depth look at areas of interest.
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).