Innovation Policy encompasses all policies governing the innovation ecosystem, including social innovation. It 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).
The Science for Policy Award
The Science for Policy Award recognizes an individual who has distinguished themselves via the application and use of scientific research and knowledge to inform evidence-based decisions for public policy and regulations. 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, criminal justice and others.
The Policy for Science Award
The Policy for Science Award recognizes an individual who has pioneered policies and practices to improve the development of new technologies, capacity building and research infrastructure. Policy for Science focuses on management of science enterprises, the production of new knowledge, the development of new technology, capacity building, training highly quality 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 Policy Definition
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.
We aimed to understand how the perception and usage of science in Parliament for policymaking may have shifted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We approached this through conducting a survey of Parliamentarians, including Members of Parliament (MPs), Senators, and their staff, with questions focused on the science-policy interface. The objectives of this survey are to inform Parliamentarians of the role of science in the work of their peers and to help academics, scientists, and public servants better prepare and communicate scientific information to decision-makers.”
Mehrdad Hariri, Founder and CEO of the Canadian Science Policy Centre
Presentation of the Survey by:
Andrew Ruttinger, Ph.D., Science and Technology Advisor at Natural Resources Canada
Ricardo Pelai, MSc in Forestry, Researcher
Senator Stan Kutcher, Psychiatrist in adolescent mental health
Valerie Bradford, Member of the Parliament of Canada for the Kitchener South-Hespeler
Kimberly Girling, Ph.D., Manager, Science Policy Team, Office of the Chief Public Health Officer at Public Health Agency of Canada
Context: The aim of this Parliamentarian Survey is to understand how the perception and usage of science in Parliament for policymaking may have shifted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We approached this by conducting a survey of Parliamentarians, including Members of Parliament (MPs), Senators, and their staff, with questions focused on the science-policy interface. The objectives of this survey are to inform Parliamentarians of the role of science in the work of their peers and to help academics, scientists, and public servants better prepare and communicate scientific information to decision-makers. The panel tackled questions such as: “How important is scientific knowledge in the process of decision-making?”, “How accessible is the scientific knowledge to policymakers?”, “What are the challenges of communicating scientific information?”
State of Affairs
Some MPs might face a lack of sufficient resources to get scientific information. Many MPs might have a team to support them, but others have only one member of the staff.
The reality of the decision-making process is that no decision can be only evidence-based. Other factors, such as economic and social factors have to be taken into account. The challenge is to find how to make evidence-based decisions while representing the needs of our community.
The scientific literacy of political decision-makers, especially Senators and Members of the Parliament, is very important. Nevertheless, most of them are flooded by so much information that it is hard to process because they may lack knowledge in a wide array of domains. We need to be aware of what we don’t know.
During the process of policymaking, we rely on the best available scientific evidence. Nevertheless, this information often requires a high-scientifically literate bureaucracy. Only through a well-informed bureaucracy can we make sure that the best evidence-based information will arrive at higher levels of policymakers.
Many Senators and MPs (about half of them) realize they have trouble discerning “reliable data” because they lack scientific expertise. To trade-off for their lack of expertise, they should exchange information with scientists from different domains. By communicating with independent experts, Parliamentarians make sure the info they receive has a lower risk of political bias and is valid.
It is important that the scientific knowledge we rely upon be translated to the audience it is meant for. New policies will have an impact on citizens, and they need to know what kind of data has influenced policymakers. Scientific knowledge also needs to be precise and accessible at the time we need it.
There are many flows of misinformation circulating through social media. We need to convince the public about the importance of science, and that “science doesn’t lie”.
It is important that Parliamentarians come from different backgrounds and exchange knowledge. This will help them make the right decisions and questions.
We need to facilitate the linkage between researchers and Parliamentarians (e.g., through Committees) that will help the latter have direct communication with the scientific community and ask them questions.
Scientists should learn how to “speak the language of the government”, how to write policy briefs, and how to transfer their knowledge to the Parliamentarians. By adapting their language to their audience, they will be able to build a relationship with them.
Words Matter: Science Advice in Linguistic Realities
Kristiann Allen, Executive secretary of the International Network for Governmental Science Advice (INGSA)
Frédéric Bouchard, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of the Université de Montréal
Soledad Quiroz-Valenzuela, Universidad Central de Chile and Vice-president of INGSA
Jacques Verraes, Deputy Head of Unit, Science Policy, Advice and Ethics at DG Research and Innovation of the European Commission (Brussels, Belgium).
Context: Many researchers have analyzed, documented, and modeled the relationship between science and policy making, though often they conclude that “it’s complicated”. Operating at the science-policy interface mobilizes our intuitions and cultural background in addition to our formal knowledge, yet this aspect is rarely examined. While INGSA (International Network for Governmental Science Advice) is working on the deployment of its French-speaking division on the one hand, and its European chapter on the other, they are also exploring opportunities and complexities of multicultural and multilingual contexts through a catalytic research project based in Europe. This panel was a chance to generate discussion on some of the questions at the science-policy interfaces and how to operate in multicultural or multilingual contexts. Questions addressed included: How can we think of linguistic and cultural diversity as an enriching factor to generate evidence? Starting with the example of the Francophonie and expanding to other contexts, panelists took a closer look at Canadian and European realities.
It is conventional to have a lingua franca in science. In the past, it used to be Latin, and today is English. Common language in science is important because it enables knowledge to cross borders, allows community building, and facilitates the communication of ideas.
When scientific knowledge is shaped into evidence with the aim of informing specific policy issues, there is a need to understand it in context. Working with local knowledge and language can bridge the local with the global. Contextual nuance and shared understanding help build the trust necessary for applying evidence to localized policy development.
Language is not only a tool of communication, but it also permits us to understand the full scope of nested and associated issues in a more refined and complex way. Implicit and embedded perceptions are often encoded in the way an issue is characterized linguistically.
The complexity of policy issues we face today increasingly can benefit from publicly engaged and transdisciplinary knowledge production, for which local knowledge of cultural and linguistic milieu becomes important to build trust.
Both linguistic and cultural distinctions play out in implicit ways as science is transformed into evidence aimed at particular policy issues.
While English is the de facto language of science, evidence for our shared global challenges should be generated in a transdisciplinary way and made available in several languages to facilitate its uptake. The 27 members of the European Union (EU) with 24 official languages ensure that all citizens have access to the EU’s official documents in their language.
As a general principle, science advisory systems should:
Be attuned to the policy environment within which they operate, which is culturally and linguistically contingent;
Be enabled to address policy demands in a timely fashion, which may require cultural and linguistic competencies;
Distinguish well between policy for science and science for policy, understanding that both are embedded in their local cultural and linguistic contexts;
Provide proper platform for science advisors to play their role as honest brokers and empower them to take responsibility, making their advice accessible and relevant;
Be transparent about the limits of science advice and the impacts and uncertainties that result from elements that call on values, ethics and politics that can be in tension with the science; in this, consideration of culture and language may be especially important; Take due account of the multidisciplinary nature of the issue and the question to be addressed by inclusion of relevant expertise that is able and capable to address the complexity and epistemic diversity, including by citizens in a transdisciplinary way;
Include the evidence used through peer review, give a proper place to deliberate prediction, and scope awareness of the political realities and contexts.
In addition, specific consideration should be given to:
Not taking shared understanding for granted, but pro-actively raising awareness of diversity in science advice. For instance, in global discussions, local scientific knowledge can be lost if it is not published in English. At the same time, policymakers seek reliable material in their native languages.
Providing greater support and platforms for translation, where it is needed, to ensure that 1) international research on shared global challenges is accessible locally, and 2) localized research that has implications for transnationally can be made more broadly available.
Being aware of the cultural and linguistic differences in the development of public trust in science advice in diverse environments. For example, if people distrust institutions, they may look for proxies: individuals with shared linguistic and cultural elements that can establish the legitimacy of scientific advice.