The Canadian science policy and science funding scene is hopping these days. Canada’s Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan, announced a new review of federal funding for fundamental science on Monday, June 13, 2016 (see my June 15, 2016 post for more details and a brief critique of the panel) and now, there’s a new Parliamentary campaign for a science advisor and a Canadian Science Policy Centre event on science diplomacy.
Petition for a science advisor
Kennedy Stewart, Canadian Member of Parliament (Burnaby South) and NDP (New Democratic Party) Science Critic, has launched a campaign for independent science advice for the government. Here’s more from a June 15, 2016 announcement (received via email),
After years of muzzling and misuse of science by the Conservatives, our scientists need lasting protections in order to finally turn the page on the lost Harper decade.
I am writing to ask your support for a new campaign calling for an independent science advisor.
While I applaud the new Liberal government for their recent promises to support science, we have a long way to go to rebuild Canada’s reputation as a global knowledge leader. As NDP Science Critic, I continue to push for renewed research funding and measures to restore scientific integrity.
Canada badly needs a new science advisor to act as a public champion for research and evidence in Ottawa. Although the Trudeau government has committed to creating a Chief Science Officer, the Minister of Science – Dr. Kirsty Duncan – has yet to state whether or not the new officer will be given real independence and a mandate protected by law.
Today, we’re launching a new parliamentary petition calling for just that: https://petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Sign/e-415
Can you add your name right now?
Canada’s last national science advisor lacked independence from the government and was easily eliminated in 2008 after the anti-science Harper Conservatives took power.
That’s why the Minister needs to build the new CSO to last and entrench the position in legislation. Rhetoric and half-measures aren’t good enough.
Please add your voice for public science by signing our petition to the Minister of Science.
Thank you for your support,
Breakfast session on science diplomacy
One June 21, 2016 the Canadian Science Policy Centre is presenting a breakfast session on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, (from an announcement received via email),
“Science Diplomacy in the 21st Century: The Potential for Tomorrow”
Remarks by Dr. Vaughan Turekian,
Science and Technology Adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry
Tuesday, June 21, 2016, Room 238-S, Parliament Hill
7:30am – 8:00am – Continental Breakfast
8:00am – 8:10am – Opening Remarks, MP Terry Beech
8:10am – 8:45am – Dr. Vaughan Turekian Remarks and Q&A
Dr. Turekian’s visit comes during a pivotal time as Canada is undergoing fundamental changes in numerous policy directions surrounding international affairs. With Canada’s comeback on the world stage, there is great potential for science to play an integral role in the conduct of our foreign affairs. The United States is currently one of the leaders in science diplomacy, and as such, listening to Dr.Turekian will provide a unique perspective from the best practices of science diplomacy in the US.
Actually, Dr. Turekian’s visit comes before a North American Summit being held in Ottawa on June 29, 2016 and which has already taken a scientific turn. From a June 16, 2016 news item on phys.org,
Some 200 intellectuals, scientists and artists from around the world urged the leaders of Mexico, the United States and Canada on Wednesday to save North America’s endangered migratory Monarch butterfly.
US novelist Paul Auster, environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Canadian poet [Canadian media usually describe her as a writer] Margaret Atwood, British writer Ali Smith and India’s women’s and children’s minister Maneka Sanjay Gandhi were among the signatories of an open letter to the three leaders.
US President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will hold a North American summit in Ottawa on June 29 .
The letter by the so-called Group of 100 calls on the three leaders to “take swift and energetic actions to preserve the Monarch’s migratory phenomenon” when they meet this month.
In 1996-1997, the butterflies covered 18.2 hectares (45 acres) of land in Mexico’s central mountains.
It fell to 0.67 hectares in 2013-2014 but rose to 4 hectares this year. Their population is measured by the territory they cover.
They usually arrive in Mexico between late October and early November and head back north in March.
Given this turn of events, I wonder how Turekian, given that he’s held his current position for less than a year, might (or might not) approach the question of Monarch butterflies and diplomacy.
I did a little research about Turekian and found this Sept. 10, 2016 news release announcing his appointment as the Science and Technology Adviser to the US Secretary of State,
On September 8, Dr. Vaughan Turekian, formerly the Chief International Officer at The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), was named the 5th Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State. In this capacity, Dr. Turekian will advise the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment on international environment, science, technology, and health matters affecting the foreign policy of the United States. Dr. Turekian will draw upon his background in atmospheric chemistry and extensive policy experience to promote science, technology, and engineering as integral components of U.S. diplomacy.
Dr. Turekian brings both technical expertise and 14 years of policy experience to the position. As former Chief International Officer for The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Director of AAAS’s Center for Science Diplomacy, Dr. Turekian worked to build bridges between nations based on shared scientific goals, placing special emphasis on regions where traditional political relationships are strained or do not exist. As Editor-in-Chief of Science & Diplomacy, an online quarterly publication, Dr. Turekian published original policy pieces that have served to inform international science policy recommendations. Prior to his work at AAAS, Turekian worked at the State Department as Special Assistant and Adviser to the Under Secretary for Global Affairs on issues related to sustainable development, climate change, environment, energy, science, technology, and health and as a Program Director for the Committee on Global Change Research at the National Academy of Sciences where he was study director for a White House report on climate change science.
Turekian’s last editorial for Science & Diplomacy dated June 30, 2015 features a title (Evolving Institutions for Twenty-First Century [Science] Diplomacy) bearing a resemblance to the title for his talk in Ottawa and perhaps it provides a preview (spoilers),
Over the recent decade, its treatment of science and technology issues has increased substantially, with a number of cover stories focused on topics that bridge science, technology, and foreign affairs. This thought leadership reflects a broader shift in thinking within institutions throughout the world about the importance of better integrating the communities of science and diplomacy in novel ways.
In May, a high-level committee convened by Japan’s minister of foreign affairs released fifteen recommendations for how Japan could better incorporate its scientific and technological expertise into its foreign policy. While many of the recommendations were to be predicted, including the establishment of the position of science adviser to the foreign minister, the breadth of the recommendations highlighted numerous new ways Japan could leverage science to meet its foreign policy objectives. The report itself marks a turning point for an institution looking to upgrade its ability to meet and shape the challenges of this still young century.
On the other side of the Pacific, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences released its own assessment of science in the U.S. Department of State. Their report, “Diplomacy for the 21st Century: Embedding a Culture of Science and Technology Throughout the Department of State,” builds on its landmark 1999 report, which, among other things, established the position of science and technology adviser to the secretary of state. The twenty-seven recommendations in the new report are wide ranging, but as a whole speak to the fact that while one of the oldest U.S. institutions of government has made much progress toward becoming more scientifically and technologically literate, there are many more steps that could be taken to leverage science and technology as a key element of U.S. foreign policy.
These two recent reports highlight the importance of foreign ministries as vital instruments of science diplomacy. These agencies of foreign affairs, like their counterparts around the world, are often viewed as conservative and somewhat inflexible institutions focused on stability rather than transformation. However, they are adjusting to a world in which developments in science and technology move rapidly and affect relationships and interactions at bilateral, regional, and global scales.
At the same time that some traditional national instruments of diplomacy are evolving to better incorporate science, international science institutions are also evolving to meet the diplomatic and foreign policy drivers of this more technical century. …
It’s an interesting read and I’m glad to see the mention of Japan in his article. I’d like to see Canadian science advice and policy initiatives take more notice of the rest of the world rather than focusing almost solely on what’s happening in the US and Great Britain (see my June 15, 2016 post for an example of what I mean). On another note, it was disconcerting to find out that Turekian believes that we are only now moving past the Cold War politics of the past.
Unfortunately for anyone wanting to attend the talk, ticket sales have ended even though they were supposed to be open until June 17, 2016. And, there doesn’t seem to be a wait list.
You may want to try arriving at the door and hoping that people have cancelled or fail to arrive therefore acquiring a ticket. Should you be an MP (Member of Parliament), Senator, or guest of the Canadian Science Policy Conference, you get a free ticket. Should you be anyone else, expect to pay $15, assuming no one is attempting to scalp (sell one for more than it cost) these tickets.
*’ … on June’ in headline changed to ‘ … on June 21, 2016’ on June 17, 2016.