Science in Public life – Panel Sessions, 9 & 11 October 2018

The Environmental Information: Use and Influence (EIUI) research program is very pleased to announce that two public panel sessions on the subject of Science in Public Life will be presented on 9 and 11 October 2018 in Halifax. EIUI is hosting these panels, along with co-sponsors, to address key questions about the role of information in public policy and decision making.

 

Science and Policy: Should Scientific Information Have Pre-eminence in Public Decision-Making? 

Tuesday, 9 October 2018
12:00 noon to 1:30 pm
Room 1020, Rowe Management Building, 6100 University Avenue

Presented in the Policy Matters Speakers Series
of the MacEachen Institute of Public Policy and Governance

Evidence-based policy making seems to be a straightforward, readily acceptable model to guide decision making at all levels of government. If evidence supports development of a policy, shouldn’t the evidence be given priority in policy decisions? In practice, however, the model faces many challenges. Even though governments broadly state that their decisions will be based on research evidence, researchers frequently wonder why evidence seems to be ignored. The 1979 statement – “in public policy making, many suppliers and users of research are dissatisfied, the former because they are not listened to, the latter because they do not hear much they want to listen to” – remains acutely relevant today. Evidence to resolve serious environmental and societal problems is available, but solutions seem to be elusive. Why? To address these questions, this panel of experts in scientific research, science communication, and science policy will offer their timely insights.

 


About the Panel

Chair: Suzuette S. Soomai, Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Maritime Region, Halifax

Daniel Cressey, Deputy Editor, Research Fortnight, London
Daniel Cressey has worked in journalism since the turn of the millennium, reporting on just about every aspect of science at one point or another. But he has always returned to research policy. Now working as deputy editor at Research Professional – publishers of Research Fortnight and Research Europe – he oversees news, features, and comment from a global team. Before joining Research Professional in November 2017, he spent 10 years at the journal Nature in various editorial roles. He holds graduate degrees in journalism and history of science, and may even remember some of the chemistry he was taught as an undergraduate.


Megan Leslie
, President, WWF-Canada, Toronto
Megan Leslie was appointed President of World Wildlife Fund Canada in December of 2017 after nearly two years at the organization, first as a consultant on oceans governance, then as head of ocean conservation. Before joining WWF, Megan was a Member of Parliament representing Halifax for two terms during which she was deputy leader of the official Opposition, environment critic, and vice-chair of the government committee on environment and sustainable development. In Ottawa, Megan had plastic microbeads added to the list of toxic substances under the Environmental Protection Act. She also expedited the creation of Sable Island National Park Reserve.


Jeffrey Hutchings
, Killam Chair in Fish, Fisheries and Oceans, Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax
Jeffrey Hutchings is Professor of Biology and Killam Memorial Chair in Fish, Fisheries, and Oceans at Dalhousie University. His work centres on the life histories and evolutionary ecology of fishes. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2015 and Foreign Fellow to the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in 2018. He has chaired four national committees, including Canada’s national science advisory body on species at risk (COSEWIC). He has appeared before several parliamentary committees, served as external advisor to the Auditor General of Canada, and advised Loblaw Companies Ltd. on the sourcing of sustainable seafood.


Richard Isnor
, Associate Vice President (Research & Graduate Studies), St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish
Richard Isnor is Associate Vice President, Research & Graduate Studies, and Interim Director of the Mulroney Institute of Government at St. Francis Xavier University. Prior to joining StFX in 2015, he held a variety of science policy and research administrative positions with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the International Development Research Centre, the National Research Council, Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada, the Privy Council Office, and the Nunavut Research Institute. He holds a Doctorate in Science and Technology Policy Studies (University of Sussex, UK); Master of Environmental Studies (Dalhousie); and BSc (Mount Allison University).

 

Why Does Public Policy Matter?

Daniel Cressey: “Public policy matters because it shapes just about everything else. Do you care about healthcare? Do you care about the economy? About scientific discoveries? About immigration? About sport? Do you want to see any change in how these things operate? Then you should care about public policy.”

Megan Leslie: “Policy matters because I want to live in an equitable and sustainable world, and to achieve that we need to undertake projects in common. Policy allows us to undertake those common projects and make decisions as a society in a way that is legitimate, participatory and equitable.”

Jeffrey Hutchings: Policy matters tremendously from a science-advisory perspective. It provides one of exceedingly few means of discerning government thinking and guides for action on the role of science in decision-making.

Richard Isenor: “Policy provides a basis for the organizational structures, procedures, and actions that are the result of decision-making. Policy matters because all leaders and organizations require mechanisms to translate decisions into actions. Policy also matters because it is (usually) codified and provides a basis for continual improvement through assessment, comparison and evaluation.”

 

Science and the Public Sphere: What is Science Literacy and What Is Its Public Value?

Thursday, 11 October 2018
7:30 pm
Alumni Hall, University of King’s College, 6350 Coburg Road

The natural and social sciences are key to dealing with today’s many environmental, health, and social issues. However, many claim that the sciences are not being adequately used to address these issues. Why? Is this a problem of scientific literacy? Who should be responsible for generating, assessing, and communicating scientific information? What degree of scientific literacy is necessary for public participation in democratic governance? How can we encourage a broader notion of literacy that includes other forms of knowledge, e.g., local and indigenous knowledge, amongst both scientific experts and the general public? To address these timely questions, members of this panel will offer their insights drawn from their experience in science journalism, authorship, environmental management, and active public engagement.

 

About the Panel

Chair: Ian Stewart, Science and Technology Program, University of King’s College, Halifax 

Daniel Cressey, Deputy Editor, Research Fortnight, London
Daniel Cressey has worked in journalism since the turn of the millennium, reporting on just about every aspect of science at one point or another. But he has always returned to research policy. Now working as deputy editor at Research Professional – publishers of Research Fortnight and Research Europe – he oversees news, features, and comment from a global team. Before joining Research Professional in November 2017, he spent 10 years at the journal Nature in various editorial roles. He holds graduate degrees in journalism and history of science, and may even remember some of the chemistry he was taught as an undergraduate.


Linda Pannozzo
, Author and Journalist, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Linda Pannozzo is an award-winning author and freelance investigative journalist. Her most recent book, About Canada: The Environment, is part Fernwood Publishing’s “About Canada” series. In it she explores the philosophical, economic, and ideological landscape of our current environmental worldview. Linda also penned the award-winning 2013 book The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: An Investigation into the Scapegoating of Canada’s Grey Seal, which looked into the science and politics behind the push for a massive cull of the grey seal population on Canada’s east coast. She is also a frequent contributor to The Halifax Examiner.


Shelley Denny
, Director of Aquatic Research and Stewardship, Unanma’ki Institute of Natural Resources, Eskasoni, Nova Scotia
Shelley Denny is a Mi’kmaq from Eskasoni First Nation and the Director of Aquatic Research and Stewardship at the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resource (UINR). She attended Acadia University where she obtained her BSc in Biology and later obtained her MSc in Biology in fisheries ecology at St. Francis Xavier University. Currently a candidate in the Interdisciplinary PhD Program at Dalhousie University, her research will build on her current interest and experience at UINR in indigenous and western knowledge systems. Her research project is focused developing an alternative governance model for fisheries by exploring how inherent and treaty fisheries can be implemented in Nova Scotia. Shelley is near completion of her field work and hopes to complete her research next year.


Karen Traversy
, Member of the public, Clam Bay, Nova Scotia
Karen Traversy is a retired federal policy analyst and evaluator who lives on the Eastern Shore, Nova Scotia where she is fascinated by the ocean coastal zone, its tide pools, and salt marshes. She has volunteered on a number of ocean-related initiatives including: Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated Management Initiative, serving as non-government co-chair; the Coastal Coalition of Nova Scotia (co-chair); and, as a member of the Doelle-Lahey advisory committee on aquaculture regulation. Karen also served on the Board of the Ecology Action Centre as coastal and water issues representative, and has recently been appointed to the advisory committee for the proposed Eastern Shore Islands Marine Protected Area – Area of Interest.

 

“What are the benefits of a scientifically literate public?”

Daniel Cressey: “The best examples of the benefits of a scientifically literate public are the problems caused by a lack of such literacy: people refusing vaccines because of a dearth of medical literacy, people buying into pyramid schemes because of a lack of economics and maths. We even seem to have people now who genuinely believe the world is flat. While they haven’t managed to do any damage yet – as far as I’m aware – it’s surely only a matter of time.”

Linda Pannozzo: “When the public is truly scientifically literate, it can knowledgeably influence policy. But in order to do this it must also be able to recognize when science is being suppressed or is under bureaucratic, corporate, or authoritarian control, which results in pseudoscience, not science.”

Shelley Denny: “The importance of scientific literacy to all cultures is empowering and has a prominent role in decision-making for the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia but how one knows what they know may not only come from formal scientific education. For example, the use of Indigenous knowledge with scientific knowledge can provide localized knowledge and understanding, deepen cross-cultural understanding, enhance decision outcomes, and foster collaborative relationships. This involves a broader understanding and appreciation of Indigenous knowledge in relation to scientific knowledge.”

Karen Traversy: “We get the governance we deserve. If we want the government to manage our natural resources and environment for sustainable use and for our grandchildren, we need to take an interest and become engaged. A scientifically literate public is a vital prerequisite for enabling this engagement with bureaucracies and “the experts” and is necessary to hold governments to account for legislative, regulatory and policy obligations. This is the case for all fields of endeavor but particularly so for natural resource management and environmental conservation and protection, of what are “common property resources”. Scientific literacy enables citizens to have a confident voice, and to work with government and, at times, challenge government action or inaction for the public good.

 

Sponsors

Environmental Information: Use and Influence research program, Dalhousie University
MacEachen Institute for Public Policy and Governance, Dalhousie University
School of Information Management, Dalhousie University
School of Journalism, University of King’s College
School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University
Faculty of Management, Dalhousie University
Faculty of Science, Dalhousie University
Office of the President, Dalhousie University

 

Please follow and like us: