Category Archives: science policy

Council of Canadian Academies and science policy for Alberta

The Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) has expanded its approach from assembling expert panels to report on questions posed by various Canadian government agencies (assessments) to special reports from a three-member panel and, now, to a workshop on the province of Alberta’s science policy ideas. From an Oct. 27, 2016 CCA news release (received via email),

The Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) is pleased to announce that it is undertaking an expert panel workshop on science policy ideas under development in Alberta. The workshop will engage national and international experts to explore various dimensions of sub-national science systems and the role of sub-national science policy.

“We are pleased to undertake this project,” said Eric M. Meslin, PhD, FCAHS, President and CEO of the CCA. “It is an assessment that could discuss strategies that have applications in Alberta, across Canada, and elsewhere.”

A two-day workshop, to be undertaken in November 2016, will bring together a multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral group of leading Canadian and international experts to review, validate, and advance work being done on science policy in Alberta. The workshop will explore the necessary considerations when creating science policy at the sub-national level. Specifically it will:

  • Debate and validate the main outcomes of a sub-national science enterprise, particularly in relation to knowledge, human, and social capital.
  • Identify the key elements and characteristics of a successful science enterprise (e.g., funding, trust, capacity, science culture, supporting interconnections and relationships) with a particular focus at a sub-national level.
  • Explore potential intents of a sub-national science policy, important features of such a policy, and the role of the policy in informing investment decisions.

To lead the design of the workshop, complete the necessary background research, and develop the workshop summary report, the CCA has appointed a five member Workshop Steering Committee, chaired by Joy Johnson, FCAHS, Vice President, Research, Simon Fraser University. The other Steering Committee members are: Paul Dufour, Adjunct Professor, Institute for Science, Society and Policy; University of Ottawa, Principal, Paulicy Works; Janet Halliwell, Principal, J.E. Halliwell Associates, Inc.; Kaye Husbands Fealing, Chair and Professor, School of Public Policy, Georgia Tech; and Marc LePage, President and CEO, Genome Canada.

The CCA, under the guidance of its Scientific Advisory Committee, and in collaboration with the Workshop Steering Committee, is now assembling a multidisciplinary, multi-sectoral, group of experts to participate in the two-day workshop. The CCA’s Member Academies – the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences – are a key source of membership for expert panels. Many experts are also Fellows of the Academies.

The workshop results will be published in a final summary report in spring 2017. This workshop assessment is supported by a grant from the Government of Alberta.

By comparison with the CCA’s last assessment mentioned here in a July 1, 2016 posting (The State of Science and Technology and Industrial Research and Development in Canada), this workshop has a better balance. The expert panel is being chaired by a woman (the first time I’ve seen that in a few years) and enough female members to add up to 60% representation. No representation from Québec (perhaps not a surprise given this is Alberta) but there is 40% from the western provinces given there is representation from both BC and Alberta. Business can boast 30% (?) with Paul Dufour doing double duty as both academic and business owner. It’s good to see international representation and one day I hope to see it from somewhere other than the US, the UK, and/or the Europe Union. Maybe Asia?

You can find contact information on the CCA’s Towards a Science Policy in Alberta webpage.

One comment, I find the lack of a specific date for the workshop interesting. It suggests either they were having difficulty scheduling or they wanted to keep the ‘unwashed’ away.

2016 Canadian Science Policy Conference started in Ottawa (Canada) today, Nov. 8, 2016

For those of us following from afar, the 2016 Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC), being held in Ottawa from Nov. 8 – 10, 2016, offers us Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram options, all of which you can find here.

There are a number of symposia sessions this morning, Nov. 8, 2016 (ET) but the conference proper doesn’t seem to get started until the afternoon. Here are a few of the sessions the organizers want to highlight (from a Nov. 4, 2016 CSPC announcement received via email),

CSPC 2016 kicks off with an exciting and informative Keynote Session. The Honorable Dr. Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Research, Innovation and Science (left), and Dr. Arthur McDonald, joint winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics (right) will address the significance of fundamental research in economic growth.  This discussion will be moderated by Victoria Kaspi, astrophysicist and a professor at McGill University. This session takes place on Tuesday, November 8 [2016], at 6:30 pm

Our second Keynote Session features Homa Hoodfar, a sociocultural anthropologist and professor emerita of anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal. She was detained while travelling in Iran and spent 112 days in jail there. She will speak on Science, Human Rights and Academic Freedom. This session will begin at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, November 9 [2016].

Plenary Session: Collaboration and Cooperation on the Challenge of Clean Energy: An International Perspective, Wednesday, November 9 [2016], at 8:30 am.

This plenary session brings together perspectives from global leaders in academia, government (Canadian and foreign), and industry. The panel will discuss potential innovative intergovernmental mechanisms that will enable all sectors to work together to bring about a transformation in clean energy S&T.

Plenary Session:  Converging Science: Fostering Innovation through a New Model of Transdisciplinary Research, Thursday, November 10 [2016], at 8:30 am.

This plenary session aims to address the following: identify opportunities and barriers to the convergence of disciplines and fields of research; discuss strategies that could be developed to enable the potential of convergence; and debate the possibility of developing and implementing new strategies and organizational structures that could improve the effectiveness of the Canadian research enterprise.

Panel: Building Capacity for Science Policy In Canada! organized by CSPC, Wednesday Nov 9 [2016], 1:30
We encourage everyone to attend this session and present recommendations and be part of the capacity building in Science Policy in Canada.

This is an interactive session that will discuss the practical recommendations on how to build capacity in science policy the gaps and priorities, and how CSPC can be more effective as a HUB for sharing resources, disseminating knowledge and becoming a Think-Do Tank in Science Policy.

You can still register for the conference, unless you’re a student (that category has sold out). If this is all too precipitate for you, there’s the 2017 CSPC, which for the third year in a row take place in Ottawa when it will celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary.

The State of Science and Technology (S&T) and Industrial Research and Development (IR&D) in Canada

Earlier this year I featured (in a July 1, 2016 posting) the announcement of a third assessment of science and technology in Canada by the Council of Canadian Academies. At the time I speculated as to the size of the ‘expert panel’ making the assessment as they had rolled a second assessment (Industrial Research and Development) into this one on the state of science and technology. I now have my answer thanks to an Oct. 17, 2016 Council of Canadian Academies news release announcing the chairperson (received via email; Note: Links have been removed and emphases added for greater readability),

The Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) is pleased to announce Dr. Max Blouw, President and Vice-Chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University, as Chair of the newly appointed Expert Panel on the State of Science and Technology (S&T) and Industrial Research and Development (IR&D) in Canada.

“Dr. Blouw is a widely respected leader with a strong background in research and academia,” said Eric M. Meslin, PhD, FCAHS, President and CEO of the CCA. “I am delighted he has agreed to serve as Chair for an assessment that will contribute to the current policy discussion in Canada.”

As Chair of the Expert Panel, Dr. Blouw will work with the multidisciplinary, multi-sectoral Expert Panel to address the following assessment question, referred to the CCA by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED):

What is the current state of science and technology and industrial research and development in Canada?

Dr. Blouw will lead the CCA Expert Panel to assess the available evidence and deliver its final report by late 2017. Members of the panel include experts from different fields of academic research, R&D, innovation, and research administration. The depth of the Panel’s experience and expertise, paired with the CCA’s rigorous assessment methodology, will ensure the most authoritative, credible, and independent response to the question.

“I am very pleased to accept the position of Chair for this assessment and I consider myself privileged to be working with such an eminent group of experts,” said Dr. Blouw. “The CCA’s previous reports on S&T and IR&D provided crucial insights into Canada’s strengths and weaknesses in these areas. I look forward to contributing to this important set of reports with new evidence and trends.”

Dr. Blouw was Vice-President Research, Associate Vice-President Research, and Professor of Biology, at the University of Northern British Columbia, before joining Wilfrid Laurier as President. Dr. Blouw served two terms as the chair of the university advisory group to Industry Canada and was a member of the adjudication panel for the Ontario Premier’s Discovery Awards, which recognize the province’s finest senior researchers. He recently chaired the International Review Committee of the NSERC Discovery Grants Program.

For a complete list of Expert Panel members, their biographies, and details on the assessment, please visit the assessment page. The CCA’s Member Academies – the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences – are a key source of membership for expert panels. Many experts are also Fellows of the Academies.

The Expert Panel on the State of S&T and IR&D
Max Blouw, (Chair) President and Vice-Chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University
Luis Barreto, President, Dr. Luis Barreto & Associates and Special Advisor, NEOMED-LABS
Catherine Beaudry, Professor, Department of Mathematical and Industrial Engineering, Polytechnique Montréal
Donald Brooks, FCAHS, Professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and Chemistry, University of British Columbia
Madeleine Jean, General Manager, Prompt
Philip Jessop, FRSC, Professor, Inorganic Chemistry and Canada Research Chair in Green Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, Queen’s University; Technical Director, GreenCentre Canada
Claude Lajeunesse, FCAE, Corporate Director and Interim Chair of the Board of Directors, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
Steve Liang, Associate Professor, Geomatics Engineering, University of Calgary; Director, GeoSensorWeb Laboratory; CEO, SensorUp Inc.
Robert Luke, Vice-President, Research and Innovation, OCAD University
Douglas Peers, Professor, Dean of Arts, Department of History, University of Waterloo
John M. Thompson, O.C., FCAE, Retired Executive Vice-Chairman, IBM Corporation
Anne Whitelaw, Associate Dean Research, Faculty of Fine Arts and Associate Professor, Department of Art History, Concordia University
David A. Wolfe, Professor, Political Science and Co-Director, Innovation Policy Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

You can find more information about the expert panel here and about this assessment and its predecesors here.

A few observations, given the size of the task this panel is lean. As well, there are three women in a group of 13 (less than 25% representation) in 2016? It’s Ontario and Québec-dominant; only BC and Alberta rate a representative on the panel. I hope they will find ways to better balance this panel and communicate that ‘balanced story’ to the rest of us. On the plus side, the panel has representatives from the humanities, arts, and industry in addition to the expected representatives from the sciences.

International effort to develop and disseminate ‘transformative innovation policy’ around the world

A new group, globally based, has been founded with the purpose of redefining innovation policy according to a Sept. 7 (?), 2016 University of Sussex press release (also on EurekAlert),

SPRU [Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex] is marking its 50th anniversary by announcing a new global consortium of scientists, experts and policy officials to address global challenges, such as access to food and energy, rising inequality, and climate change.

SPRU is celebrating 50 years at the forefront of thinking on science, technology and innovation with a major conference from 7-9 September 2016. The conference is based on the overarching theme of ‘Transforming Innovation’.

SPRU believes that innovation policy has the potential to help tackle some of the world’s most central challenges, such as sustainable development and inequality and it has developed a research strategy that is focused on long-term transformative change and innovation across different sectors, societies and structures.

The conference provides an opportunity for academics, policy makers and civil society actors to come together to will explore the nature, determinants and direction of innovation and its contribution to meeting current and future global challenges such as climate change, economic growth, sustainability and security.

Rooted now in the School of Business Management and Economics, SPRU is focused on responding effectively to these interconnected challenges by fundamentally rethinking how we organise, govern, direct and accelerate innovation so that it contributes to long-term sustainable development, economic progress and social justice.

With this objective, at the opening session on Wednesday (7 September [2016]), a new initiative – the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium (TIPC) – will be launched. The Consortium will bring together global actors to examine and research innovation systems as well as explore the future of innovation policy.

Alongside SPRU, the founding organisations are; Colciencias, the Government of Colombia’s Department of Science, Technology and Innovation; the National Research Foundation in South Africa; and Forskningsradet: The Research Council in Norway, with a further cohort anticipated before the end of the pilot phase in 2016/17.

Professor Johan Schot, Director of SPRU said: “At the same time that we celebrate this significant milestone for our organisation, we see that the world is facing an increasing number of crises and persistent problems.

“The modern way of provisioning our basic needs is not sustainable in the long run, and is already causing climate change, profound societal turmoil, tensions and conflict on an unprecedented scale.

“It is clear that we cannot globalise our current ways of providing food, energy, mobility, healthcare and water.

“TIPC aims to analyse our current world – which is in deep transition – and develop a new, shared rationale and vision for innovation policy.”

The Consortium’s key objective is to examine and expand on current innovation frames and approaches to assist in solving urgent social and economic issues of our time. TIPC also seeks to engage in policy design and experimentation, training and skill formation. The project involves building new platforms for a mutual learning process between the Global North and South and between research and policy.

“Science, technology and innovation fundamentally contribute to promoting progress in Colombia. They provide solutions to the great challenges we face in building a long-lasting and stable peace. Our country has initiated a transformation phase which requires rethinking the ST&I policies of today – in order to rise to the occasion of this historic challenge,” remarked Alejandro Olaya Davila, Deputy Director of Colciencias.

Yet, how do we ensure that the ‘right’ innovations occur? The TIPC is based on a new framing of innovation (Innovation 3.0 ) that recognises that negative impacts or externalities of innovation can overtake positive contributions. This frame focuses on mobilising the power of innovation for addressing a wide range of societal challenges including inequality, unemployment and climate change. It emphasises policies for directing socio-technical systems into socially desirable directions and embeds processes of change in society.

Anne Kjersti Fahlvik, Execute Director Division for Innovation, the Research Council of Norway, commented: “The directionality that the grand societal challenges provide is increasingly accepted by our research and innovation systems. Advanced and better science, technology and innovation are pointed to as the way forward. Yet, we also experience how the grand challenges entail challenges to ourselves as a research funding organization.

“The challenge of addressing Grand Challenges – to cite a well-known title – has come to stay and is inviting us out of our comfort zone. At The Research Council of Norway many of us have been inspired by SPRU to venture out and experiment these last years. We are excited by the prospect of future “crossover” collaborations for continued learning and development – as envisioned by the Transformative Innovation Policy Consortium.”

Dr Aldo Stroebel, Executive Director, International Relations and Cooperation, National Research Foundation, said: “As a leading science granting council, the National Research Foundation of South Africa values this strategic partnership.

“Different types of innovation play a role at various stages, and it is an opportune time to explore successful innovation experiments for a potentially different framework for development. A key challenge for innovation policy in emerging countries like South Africa is to encourage inclusive growth and support research addressing major social challenges – an important focus of the consortium.

“Managing for success through a focus on the factors that enhance impact is a joint objective of the programme, for a robust framework of engagement. SPRU’s leadership in this endeavour is clear and respected.”

In addition, VINNOVA – the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems, TEKES, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation and The Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development – CASTED, also signed an expression of interest to join the Consortium.

Across his entire career, SPRU’s founder Chris Freeman embraced an ‘economics of hope’- a principle which embodies a positive view of our potential to direct innovation, creativity and new technologies towards more sustainable and inclusive futures. It is with this ethos that the new Consortium will look to shape innovation over the next 50 years and beyond.

You can find the SPRU here.

Public comment invited on *2016* US draft National Nanotechnology Initiative strategic plan

A Sept. 23, 2016 news item on Nanowerk announces a public consultation on the latest draft US National Nanotechnology Initiative strategic plan (Note: Links have been removed),

The draft 2016 National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) Strategic Plan is now available online for public comment prior to publication. The public is encouraged to submit comments electronically through www.nano.gov/2016strategy, or via email to 2016NNIStrategy@nnco.nano.gov. Public comments should be one page or less and include reference page and line numbers. Comments are due by September 23, 2016. Additional guidance is available in the Federal Register.

The NNI Strategic Plan describes the initiative’s vision and goals and the strategies by which these goals are to be achieved. The plan includes a description of the NNI investment strategy and the program component areas called for by the 21st Century Research and Development Act of 2003, and it also identifies specific objectives toward collectively achieving the NNI vision. This plan updates and replaces the NNI Strategic Plan of February 2014.

A Sept. 12, 2016 US National Nanotechnology Initiative notice provides a link to the 67pp. draft document and further information. You can also check the US Federal Register for the official document. The deadline for submitting comments is Sept. 23, 2016, in short, you have ten days.

*ETA Sept. 15, 2016: Sam Pearson in a Sept. 14, 2016 article (open access during a free trial) for Bloomberg BNA offers some analysis of the 2016 draft plan,

The draft document, which sets out goals for developing and commercializing the technology and was released Sept. 12 [2016], is largely unchanged from previous versions. The plan, which is required under the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, sets policy for the White House-led National Nanotechnology Initiative for the next three years across 20 departments and independent agencies.

The environment and health spending is about 7 percent of the initiative’s total budget, an increase from 4.8 percent in fiscal year 2011 and just 2.8 percent in fiscal year 2006. When combined with related spending in other sectors, the total is about 10 percent of the budget, the document states.

“There’s significant potential positive aspects of this, but we need those to be managed in a mature way to ensure that we’re not bringing about something that’s so profound without any laws in place,” Ian Illuminato, a health and environment consultant at Friends of the Earth, told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 12 [2016], “which has so far been what’s happening.”

Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups have pushed for tougher evaluations of the potential health risks of nanotech products.

In a statement to Bloomberg BNA Sept. 12 [2016], Jay West, head of the Nanotechnology Panel of the American Chemistry Council, said the group planned to examine the proposal.

For the curious, there’s more analysis in Pearson’s article.

*’2016′ added on Sept. 15, 2016.

Everything old is new again: Canadian Parliament holds first reading of another bill to regulate nanotechnlogy

Back in March 2010, Canadian New Democratic Party (NDP) Member of Parliament (MP) Peter Julian introduced a bill to regulate nanotechnology (Bill C-494) in Canada. The Conservative government was in power at the time. I can’t remember how many readings it received but it never did get passed into legislation. Now, Mr. Julian is trying again and, coincidentally or not, the Liberals are in power this time. A July 26, 2016 post by Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton for the National Law Review (Note: Links have been removed),

On June 8, 2016, the Canadian House of Commons held its first reading of an Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) (nanotechnology) (C-287).  The bill would add Part 6.1 to CEPA primarily to implement procedures for the investigation and assessment of nanomaterials. …

The bill would define nanomaterial as any manufactured substance or product or any component material, ingredient, device or structure that:  (a) is within the nanoscale (one nanometer (nm) up to and including 100 nm), in at least one external dimension; or (b) if it is not within the nanoscale, exhibits one or more properties that are attributable to the size of a substance and size effects.  The bill mandates a risk assessment process to identify the potential benefits and possible risks of nanotechnologies before nanoproducts enter the market.  It would also create a national inventory regarding nanotechnology, including nanomaterials and nanoparticles, using information collected under CEPA Sections 46 and 71 and “any other information to which the Ministers have access.” On July 25, 2015, Canada published a notice announcing a mandatory survey under CEPA Section 71(1)(b) with respect to certain nanomaterials in Canadian commerce.  …

I do have a few observations about the proposed bill. First, it’s more specific than what we have in place now. As I understand current CEPA regulations, they do not cover materials at the nanoscale which are already imported and/or produced at the macroscale and are considered safe, e.g. titanium dioxide. It is assumed that if they’re safe at the macroscale, they will be safe at the nanoscale. I gather this bill is designed to change that status.

Second, there is no mention in Julian’s press release (text to follow) of the joint Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) Nanotechnology Initiative which was designed to harmonize US and Canadian regulatory approaches to nanotechnology. Would bill C-287 introduce less harmony or was it designed to harmonize our approaches?

Third, I don’t see a big problem with the idea of an inventory, the issue is always implementation.

Finally, it appears that this bill means more bureaucrats or computerized systems and I’m not sure it addresses the problem that I believe it is trying to address: how to deal with uncertainty about the risks and hazards of an emerging technology while meeting demands for economic progress.

Very finally, here’s Peter Julian’s June 8, 2016 press release,

Julian’s bill to include Nanotechnology under Environmental Protection Act

You can watch the video here: https://peterjulian.ca/Introduction_of_Private_Member_Bill_C287_An_Act_t…

OTTAWA – Today [June 8, 2016], Peter Julian, MP (New Westminster-Burnaby) re-introduced Bill C-287 in the House of Commons, which aims to include a framework that would regulate nanotechnology in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

“I first introduced this Bill in 2010. I am pleased to see that some of the aspects of this Bill are being considered by Health Canada and Environment Canada, such as the development of a registry for nanomaterials in commerce and use in Canada. However, there is much more that needs to be done to ensure the responsible use of nanotechnologies in Canada”, said Julian.

Nanotechnology is the application of science and technology to manipulate matter at the atomic or molecular level. Nanomaterials are any ingredient, device, or structure that is between 1 and 100 nm. These materials are present in more than 1000 consumer products, including food and cosmetics. The increasing proliferation of nanoproducts has not been met with an adequate regulatory framework.

Julian’s Bill C-287 would establish a balanced approach ensuring the responsible development of nanotechnology and the safe use off nanomaterials in Canada. The Bill mandates a risk assessment process to identify the potential benefits and possible risks of nanotechnologies before nanoproducts enter the market. It would also require a comprehensive, publicly accessible database that lists existing nanomaterials identified by the Government of Canada.

“While nanotechnology can be very beneficial to people, there are certain risks to it as well. We must identify and mitigate possible risks to better protect the environment and human health before they become an issue. Canada must ensure our regulatory processes ensure nanomaterial safety before the introduction of these substances in Canada”, said Julian.

I’m including links to my 2010 email interview with Peter Julian (published in three parts),

March 24, 2010 (Part one)

March 25, 2010 (Part two)

March 26, 2010 (Part three)

I also covered a hearing on nanomaterials and safety held by the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Health on June 10, 2010 in a June 23, 2010 posting.

2016 Canadian Science Policy Conference: supersaver registration ends Sept. 6, 2016

It’s a little early to be talking about a conference being held in November but if you want to save money, this would be the time to register for the 2016 Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC) being held in Ottawa (the nation’s capital) from Nov. 8 -10, 2016. Here’s more about the conference and preconference programmes from an Aug. 25, 2016 notice (received by email),

Pre-conference Events

CSPC 2016 C features several pre-conference opportunities for you to choose from.

A total six of events will take place on Tuesday November 8 [2016], before the CSPC conference. Four symposia and a workshop 8:00 am to 3:00 pm and one roundtable runs from 1 – 3 pm. You can register for these events separately or combine them with your conference registration.

1st Canadian symposium on“Achieving Diversity in STEM, Advancing Innovation,” – organized by Faculty of Science, Ryerson University

2nd National Symposium on “Science Diplomacy” – organized by CSPC

2nd National Symposium on “Evidence-Based Decision Making” – organized by Council of Canadian Academies

1st Canadian Symposium on “Space Policy” – organized by Canadian Space Commerce Association
Workshop: “Science Policy 101” – organized by CSPC“

The Role of Early Career Scientists in Research Policy Development”, as part of 2016 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research Program, organized by Friends of CIHR (FCIHR)

More information on program page

They are still adding to the programme but here are a few session titles that are available (from the CSPC 2016 program page),

Fertile Ground: How Incubators and Accelerators Drive Innovation / Un terrain fertile : comment les incubateurs et les accélérateurs stimulent l’innovation

Science for diplomacy, have we got what it takes? / La science au service de la diplomatie ; avons-nous ce qu’il faut ?

A Systems-based Approach to Evidence-Based Policy Decision-Making: Skills, Tools & Mindset for Effective Decision Making / Une approche systémique pour la prise de décisions éclairées par des données probantes en matière de politiques : compétences, outil

Driving Innovation through Health Research – the role stemcell & regenerative medicine sector / Impulser l’innovation au moyen de la recherche en santé : le rôle des secteurs des cellules souches et de la médecine régénératrice

Linking Science Producers to Users, A Case Study: Designing a proposed pan-Canadian oil spill research Network of Expertise / L’établissement de liens entre les producteurs et les utilisateurs de la science, une étude de cas : la conception d’un projet pa [sic]

TED Talk Innovation 2: a) Entrepreneurial Skills Training for the New Economy: Case Studies; b) Partnered Innovation: The Role of Colleges in Canada’s Innovation Ecosystem; c) Alberta – The Illusion and Impact of Sustained Prosperity

It’s exciting to see the CSPC grow with a number of new preconference programs and some new directions for the conference program but there are a couple of areas for which there aren’t any sessions (yet?): (a) science communication, (b) risk, and (c) public engagement with emerging technology. I’m particularly concerned with the emerging technology topic,. For example, with the emergence of robots and increasingly sophisticated AI (artificial intelligence) systems, it would be nice to see a session or two devoted to future public policy issues.

I have previously featured the 2016 CSPC in a May 19, 2016 posting about their call for proposals and the conference themes,

From a May 4, 2016 call for proposals (received via email), here are the conference themes and information about submitting ideas,

Here are CSPC 2016 Themes:

A New Culture of Policy Making and Evidence-Based Decision-Making: Horizons and Challenges

A New Innovation Agenda or Canada: What are we building?

Science Funding Review: New Visions and New Directions

Clean Energy and Climate Change as Global Priorities: Implications for Canada?

Canada’s Return to the International Stage: How Can Science Help Foreign Policy?

Super saver registration ends on Sept. 6, 2016 at 11:59 pm EST, presumably.

Science and the 2016 US presidential campaign

An Aug. 10, 2016 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) news release (received via email and issued on behalf of ScienceDebate.org) has elicited an interesting response from David Bruggeman on his Pasco Phronesis blog. But first, here’s more about the announcement from over 50 science societies and organizations in the US regarding their list of 20 questions about science for the four 2016 US presidential candidates,

A blue-ribbon coalition of fifty-six leading U.S. nonpartisan organizations, representing more than 10 million scientists and engineers, are calling on U.S. Presidential candidates to address a set of twenty major issues in science, engineering, technology, health and the environment, and encouraging journalists and voters to press the candidates on them during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election season.

“Taken collectively, these twenty issues have at least as profound an impact on voters’ lives as those more frequently covered by journalists, including candidates’ views on economic policy, foreign policy, and faith and values,” said ScienceDebate.org chair Shawn Otto, organizer of the effort. A 2015 national poll commissioned by ScienceDebate.org and Research!America revealed that a large majority of Americans (87%) say it is important that candidates for President and Congress have a basic understanding of the science informing public policy issues.

The group crowd sourced and refined hundreds of suggestions, then submitted “the 20 most important, most immediate questions” to the Presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein, “along with an invitation to the candidates to answer them in writing and to discuss them on television,” said Otto. The questions and answers will be widely distributed to the science community, journalists, and the general public to help voters make well-informed decisions at the ballot box this November.

The list of organizations is a who’s who of the American science enterprise. “Sometimes politicians think science issues are limited to simply things like the budget for NASA or NIH, and they fail to realize that a President’s attitude toward and decisions about science and research affect the public wellbeing, from the growth of our economy, to education, to public health. Voters should have a chance to know where the Presidential candidates stand,” said Rush Holt, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of the Science family of journals. “We want journalists and voters to ask these questions insistently of the candidates and their campaign staff.”

Nonpartisan organizations participating in the effort include:

**ScienceDebate.org
*American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association of Geographers
*American Chemical Society
American Fisheries Society
American Geophysical Union
*American Geosciences Institute
American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering
*American Institute of Biological Sciences
American Institute of Professional Geologists
American Rock Mechanics Association
American Society for Engineering Education
American Society of Agronomy
American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
American Society of Mammalogists
Association for Women in Geosciences
Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
Automation Federation
*Biophysical Society
Botanical Society of America
Carnegie Institution for Science
Conservation Lands Foundation
Crop Science Society of America
Duke University
Ecological Society of America
Geological Society of America
*IEEE-USA
International Committee Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technologies
Materials Research Society
NACE International, The Worldwide Corrosion Authority
*National Academy of Engineering
*National Academy of Medicine
*National Academy of Sciences
National Cave and Karst Research Institute
*National Center for Science Education
National Ground Water Association
Natural Science Collections Alliance
Northeastern University
Organization of Biological Field Stations
Paleontological Society
*Research!America
Scientific American magazine
Seismological Society of America
*Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society
Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections
Society of Fire Protection Engineers
Society of Wetland Scientists
Society of Women Engineers
Soil Science Society of America
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Tufts University
*Union of Concerned Scientists
University City Science Center
*U.S. Council on Competitiveness
The Wildlife Society
World Endometriosis Research Foundation America

*Codeveloper of the questions
**Lead partner organization

An Aug. 10, 2016 article by Brady Dennis for the Washington Post explains that while ScienceDebate.org organizers would prefer a debate they feel they are more likely to get responses to a list of questions they provide the candidates,

Climate change. Mental health. Space exploration. Vaccinations. The health of the oceans. Antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

These are not the typical meat-and-potatoes topics of presidential debates. Often, the candidates and people who ask them questions skip over such topics entirely.

But dozens of non-partisan groups that represent millions of scientists and engineers across the country are eager to change that. For the third consecutive presidential election, the folks behind ScienceDebate.org are asking candidates to hold a debate exclusively about major issues in science, engineering, health and the environment. Since that almost certainly won’t happen (it didn’t in 2008 or 2012, either), the organizers have put together 20 questions they are asking candidates to address in writing.

You can find the group’s list of 20 questions here.

As for David Bruggeman’s response, in an Aug. 11, 2016 posting on his Pasco Phronesis blog, there’s this (Note: Links have been removed),

A point of blog history worth noting – I’m no fan of ScienceDebate, so you can guess the emphasis of the writing to come.

Yesterday ScienceDebate released the questions it wants the Presidential candidates to answer.  While it still makes the motions toward an in-person debate, past experience suggests it won’t do any better than receiving answers from the campaigns.

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if the organizers actually engaged with the Presidential Commission on Debates, which sponsors the debates (for the general election) and sets everything up several months in advance.  While I doubt they would be immediately open to having a debate focused solely on science, they might be persuaded to make those questions a significant portion of a debate focused on domestic policy.

I recommend reading David’s post in its entirety for his speculations as to why ScienceDebate has not approached the Presidential Commission on Debates. Btw, thank you David for the information about the commission on debates. It certainly changed my take on the situation.

Dear Kennedy Stewart (Canadian Member of Parliament), About your petition for a national science strategy …

Dear Kennedy, I very much appreciate all your efforts to bring the science conversation into the national  discourse. Also the idea of a national science strategy is appealing to me but I find your petition for such a little puzzling.

Here’s what I mean (points 2 and 4),

THEREFORE we call on the Government of Canada to
implement a National Science Strategy that:

1) Creates an independent Parliamentary Science Officer;
2) Creates a new Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister [in Science Minister Kirsty Duncan’s ministerial mandate letter from the Prime Minister {see my Nov.17, 2015 posting}, this position is given top priority but there has been no announcement to date; she has discussed how her process for developing this position and an announcement is expected in the near future {I hope}];
3) Brings in comprehensive ethics legislation to end the muzzling of scientists;
4) Restores the mandatory long-form census [this was restored according to a Nov. 5, 2015 article by Bruce Campion-Smith for the Toronto Star];
5) Re-establishes scientific capacity in key federal departments;
6) Strengthens the independence of the federal granting councils;
7) Maintains support for Canada’s universities and colleges;
8) Provides new funding for post-secondary researchers over five years;
9) Ensures a balanced approach to federal science & technology policy;
10) Makes government data open and publicly-available by default.

Do you know something I don’t? Please let me know. Otherwise, the petition seems odd given that I received your request via email on Aug. 11, 2016,

My team is collecting signatures right now for 4 major petition campaigns.

Whether it’s tackling BC’s affordable housing crisis, stopping the new Kinder Morgan pipeline, or bringing gender parity to Canadian democracy, we’re working towards progressive change that makes a real difference in people’s lives.

You can download copies of each petition at the links below:

Signed petitions can be mailed postage-free to my Parliament Hill office:

I wish you good luck with your efforts but before signing this petition I would like to know more and/or see an updated version.