Happy New Year! I’m looking forward to a great year at the ISSP and want to tell you a bit about what I will be doing.
As a lifelong science and technology (S&T) policy geek, and having been involved with the Institute since its founding, I was honored to accept Monica’s invitation to join the team as the inaugural Executive-in-Residence. Under Monica’s leadership the Institute is right at the center of critical discussions at the interface of science, innovation, policy and society and I’m very excited to be able to contribute to this mission. Through an agreement with the Council of Canadian Academies, where I’m currently directing assessments on international S&T partnerships and on quantum technologies, I am devoting one day a week to my ISSP activities.
So, what cool stuff will I be doing?
First, there is no question that society’s relationship with science and innovation is under strain: trust, understanding, and support for science are precarious. I believe that Canada must create a scientific enterprise that addresses our most pressing needs, engages Canadians using language they understand, is led by people who look like Canada, and recognizes and values the knowledge systems of Indigenous people as part of reconciliation.
In this context, I am co-leading a SSHRC partnership development project titled Beyond Endless Frontiers: Re-thinking the Social Contract for Science and Innovation. The 2-year project is examining the social compact that governs Canada’s scientific enterprise and will explore key themes including mission-directed research, Indigenous and other ways of knowing, and trust, integrity and science ethics. Working across the public, private, academic and non-profit sectors, the partnership will conduct policy research and foresight, convene roundtables, and model new knowledge co-development approaches to develop a renewed governance framework for science and innovation. Stay tuned for more information!
Second, I’m excited to be part of a large, multi-sectoral team implementing the new Inclusive Innovation Hub (I2Hub). Inclusive innovation is one of the themes of the Beyond Endless Frontiers project and, under R. Sandra Schillo’s leadership, it has become a core focus of the ISSP in recent years. I am connecting the I2Hub to government decision-makers in the federal public service to help them address grand challenges through inclusive, innovative approaches.
Third, I am providing thought leadership on a new, signature initiative for the ISSP. This initiative will help advance the Institute’s strategic vision for the next five years: helping Canada transform decision-making for the grand challenges of our time by strengthening the links among science, society, and policy. The initiative supports creation of an annual edited volume at the nexus of science, society and policy research that would speak to both academics and practitioners. This “pracademic” product in multiple formats will help reinforce the Institute’s stature as a locus for current insight and SSP expertise, and can become a significant teaching and training resource. Building on the volume as a foundation, the Institute will use its considerable convening power to foster dialogue and events that mobilize the uptake of the latest SSP knowledge into the policy and other arenas.
Last but certainly not least, I will be leading the uOttawa half of the annual Bromley Memorial Lecture Event, in partnership with my alma mater the George Washington University. The Bromley, as it has come to be known, honors the memory of Dr. D. Allan Bromley, a Canadian who grew up in Westmeath, Ontario, became a world-renowned nuclear physicist and went on to become Assistant to the President George H.W. Bush. As the president’s science advisor, Dr. Bromley was instrumental in championing Canada-US S&T relations during his tenure.
I am proud to have worked with the late Dr. John de la Mothe, a former Canada Research Chair at uOttawa, to help launch the initiative in 2005. An added bonus for me is the opportunity to work with my former GWU professor Dr. Nicholas Vonortas who leads the American half of the partnership. The annual event alternates between Ottawa and Washington, DC, and this year we’re looking forward to taking a contingent of students down to Washington at the end of March to meet and exchange ideas with senior S&T policy leaders.
These are just some of the many projects the ISSP has cooking that I anticipate being involved in over the next fifteen months. I also look forward to learning from my colleagues and helping support the important work of the Institute.