Over the last nine years, the Canadian Science Policy Centre has made significant contributions to a range of areas that include developing a national network and community of science policy stakeholders, building an online hub, including the community in an online forum, and raising the profile of science policy. The Centre is also connected to the mainstream media and the public at large, providing a gateway for the next generation of scientists and policymakers to the science policy arena. These accomplishments have contributed to a multifaceted and dynamic science and innovation policy dialogue across the country, leading Nature magazine to hail the conference as a “sign of hope for science policy in Canada.”
The Canadian Science Policy Centre is a non-profit organization that supports the objective of broad stakeholder engagement by bringing together a pan-Canadian network of multi-sector expertise to discuss science and innovation policy issues in a neutral, non-partisan forum. The Centre, with limited resources, has had remarkable achievements, including:
Website and Online Platform: An online hub
BUILDING A NETWORK AND COMMUNITY
Since its inception, the Centre has established a national network of stakeholders across sectors, providing a sense of community through connecting stakeholders from various sectors, disciplines, and regions who are not directly connected to each other. Salazar and Holbrook (2007) highlights “the particular importance of networks in Canada owing to the country’s low population density, distribution of research institutions and political system.”
With respect to this crucial need to build networks between stakeholders across the country, Dr. Merli Tamtik, Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba has indicated: “....Yet more research is needed in order to create a comprehensive system of policy coordination that can be adopted by policy makers. One example of an initiative to bring together government representatives, academia, and industry leaders is provided through the Canadian Science Policy Conference—a forum dedicated to building the bridge between policy experts, academia, and industry representatives.”
BUILD TRAINING CAPACITY IN SCIENCE POLICY FOR NEXT GENERATION
The Centre has provided a unique gateway for the next generation of scientists and policy makers to enter the science policy arena. Over 500 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early career professionals from various disciplines and across Canada have served on various committees that assist in the development of each year’s conference. Their engagement for each conference is usually between minimum five to 12 months and most of them repeat this experience for several years. Through the Centre, they have been able to connect and interact in an inclusive environment, generate discussion, and gain the expertise necessary to meaningfully impact the Canadian science policy landscape. This volunteer experience provides them with their first exposure to the intersection of science and society, policy discussions, individuals, organizations, etc. Many become inspired to change their career course and enter the science policy field as their career path. CSPC is the only environment in which they can earn invaluable experience, learn, and also contribute to building and impacting the community.
PIONEER NEW INSIGHTS AND HORIZONS IN SCIENCE POLICY
The Centre has been keen to be at the forefront of science policy discussions, and to introduce novel topics to the Canadian science policy community. The Centre has pioneered many new concepts in Canada including:
a) Science Diplomacy: Hosting both science advisors to the past three US Secretaries of State and organizing two national symposiums on science diplomacy are among the Centre’s impacts. The CBC website noted the importance of the issue and covered it in the news.
b) Evidence-Based Decision Making: Organizing two symposia, in 2015 and 2016, and conducting numerous panel sessions on training public servants to collect, analyze, and structure evidence for decision making, exploring methods of evidence assessment, and establishing a framework for evidence to encourage integration of science into practice. The need to hone evidence-based decision making is supported as a priority for the Canadian Government in appointing Dr. Mona Nemer as Canada’s Chief Science Advisor in 2017 and was comprehensively discussed in a candid one-on-one with Dr. Nemer and Mr. Hariri at CSPC 2017.
c) Diaspora Scientists: In 2015, the inaugural CSPC Diaspora Symposium addressed the topic of diaspora scientists and their potential to strengthen international science and technology collaboration. The symposium aimed to mobilize and connect existing diaspora scientific communities in Canada, provide networking opportunities, explore the potential of diaspora scientists, and form a Canadian Network of Diaspora Scientists that would also include a database of organizations and individuals who are active in science and science policy fields. This symposium further demonstrates the Centre’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion in the science policy sphere.
LINKING SCIENCE POLICY WITH MEDIA
Through the annual conference and other organized lectures, panels, meetings and collaborations each year, the Centre is successfully fostering important discussions and amplifying these messages through media outlets such as Science, Nature, Globe and Mail, CBC, TVO, CPAC, Hill Times, and iPolitics among others.