Rethinking the Social Contract for Science and Innovation

Beyond Endless Frontiers

At the core of today's science system is an implicit social contract between science and society: society, through government, provides public funds and a high degree of autonomy to the scientific community in return for the considerable but unpredictable benefits that science can provide society in terms of innovation, economic prosperity, and solutions to global challenges. This project, supported by a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, seeks to build a new relationship between science and society that reflects our times.

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About Beyond Endless Frontiers

The Issue:

The social contract for science and innovation is under strain. With the decline of trust, there are worrying signs of a public unsure about the value and authority of science in their everyday lives, and a growing disconnect between what the public increasingly sees as unapproachable, elitist institutions and what scientists see as a lack of public appreciation for the modes and merit of their work. At the same time, there have been major developments in the processes of science and innovation and their intersections with public policy, communications, and broad societal challenges. In this period of significant social, economic and environmental stresses, the need for science and innovation to be central to society's response is even greater. It is imperative that Canada rethink (and perhaps replace) the postwar social contract and develop a renewed and strengthened relationship appropriate to the challenges and opportunities of this era. 

The Project:

The goal of this SSHRC partnership development project is to examine the postwar social contract that underpins Canada's scientific enterprise and explore the elements of a new policy framework. Working with the public, private, academic and non-profit sectors, the partnership will be developed to conduct policy research, convene roundtables, and model new knowledge co-development approaches through a foresight and mapping exercise. This research program integrates six themes that have emerged through precursor research on deficiencies with the postwar contract:  

  • Inclusive Innovation, led by Sandra Schillo, Associate Professor, Telfer School of Management and Inclusive Innovation and Core Member, Institute for Science, Society and Policy, University of Ottawa

  • Interdisciplinary, Indigenous, and Other Ways of Knowing, led by Kyle Bobbiwash, Assistant Professor, Indigenous Scholar, Entomology Department, University of Manitoba and Researcher in Residence, Office of the Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada

  • Mission-Directed Research, led by Peter Phillips, Distinguished Professor and Graduate Chair, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy; Director, Centre for the Study of Science and Innovation Policy; Associate Member, Department of Bioresource, Policy, Business and Economics, College of Agriculture; and Associate Member, Department of Economics, College of Arts and Science, University of Saskatchewan and David Castle, Professor in the School of Public Administration and the Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria and Researcher in Residence, Office of the Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada

  • Science Communications, Outreach, and Public Engagement, led by Rhonda Moore, Executive Director, Science and Innovation, Institute on Governance and President, Science Writers and Communicators of Canada

  • Skills and Knowledge, led by Sandra LaPointe, Professor of Philosophy, McMaster University

  • Trust, Integrity, and Science Ethics, led by Jeff Kinder, Project Director, Council of Canadian Academies and Executive in Residence, Institute for Science, Society and Policy, University of Ottawa


  1. To identify and examine the elements, assumptions, values and biases of the postwar contract;
  2. To work with a multisectoral coalition of actors to research policy solutions, within and across the six themes, that address and update the terms of the contract consistent with the contemporary Canadian context; and
  3. To disseminate and mobilize these insights and offer practical ways to reshape the policy framework for science and innovation.

Knowledge mobilization, including through plain-language policy papers and co-creation of knowledge with federal partners, will be central to the proposed partnership-based research program. Through these activities, research outcomes will inform Canada's science and innovation policy and the development of a renewed relationship between science and society. The project team will be guided by an External Advisory Council.

The Partnership:

The research will be jointly led by PI Sandra Schillo, Jeff Kinder, at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy, and Rhonda Moore, at the Institute on Governance, a not-for-profit, public interest institution dedicated to improving public governance. Collaborators from McMaster University, the University of Manitoba, the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Victoria will bring important subject-matter expertise as theme leads and will support student participation. Other partners include the Belmont Forum, the Business Higher Education Roundtable (BHER), Canadian Science Policy Centre, Genome Canada, Ingenium, Optonique, and York University will participate throughout the project bringing thematic knowledge to the research and facilitating wide knowledge mobilization to ensure project outcomes contribute to Canada's science and innovation policy agenda. 

The Project Team

R. Sandra Schillo

R. Sandra Schillo

PhD, PI and Project Co-Director, University of Ottawa 

Sandra Schillo focuses her research on improved methodologies relating to the measurement of innovation, entrepreneurship and their impact. 

Dr. Schillo has research and professional experience in the areas of science and technology, research and innovation management and entrepreneurship. Her professional work experience includes work completed for Industry Canada and many science based departments and agencies of the Canadian federal government. 

Dr. Schillo completed her doctoral studies at the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, University of Kiel, Germany. She obtained her Masters' degree in Engineering Management from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany, majoring in corporate strategy and specializing in innovation management and technology transfer. 

Jeff Kinder

Jeff Kinder

PhD, Project Co-Director, Institute for Science, Society and Policy 

Jeff has almost 35 years of experience in government science, technology and innovation policy in the US and Canada.  His US experience includes the National Science Foundation, the National Academies and the Naval Research Laboratory.  
In Canada, Jeff has worked at Industry Canada, Natural Resources Canada and the Council of Science and Technology Advisors. In 2014, he supported the External Advisory Group on Government Science and Technology (the Knox Panel). More recently, he led the Federal S&T Secretariat supporting the Minister of Science, the Deputy Minister Champion for Federal S&T and related initiatives. From 2017-2022, he created and served as Executive Director of the science and innovation area of practice at the Institute on Governance. He is now at the Council of Canadian Academies directing assessments on international S&T partnerships and quantum technologies.  

At the University of Ottawa, Jeff is Executive-in-Residence at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy (ISSP) and an adjunct at the Telfer School of Management. Jeff is a member of the board of the Canadian Science Policy Centre and advisor to the Ottawa Science Policy Network. He holds a PhD in public policy, a Master’s in science, technology and public policy, and a BS in physics. 

Rhonda Moore

Rhonda Moore

Project Co-Director, Institute on Governance

For almost 20 years, Rhonda Moore has worked at the intersection of communications, research, and policy analysis and development. At that intersection, Rhonda has sought out opportunities to build relationships, to connect people and ideas, and to promote evidence-informed decision making in plain language.    

Prior to joining the IOG in May 2018, Rhonda worked for a variety of private, public, and non-profit organizations including the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (now Universities Canada), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the University of Ottawa, and the Public Policy Forum.  

Rhonda is a member of the board of directors of the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada. In 2017 she co-chaired the annual conference, and in 2020 she chaired the organization’s first virtual conference.    

Rhonda has a Bachelor of Public Relations from Mount Saint Vincent University and a Master’s degree in Science, Technology and Innovation studies from the University of Edinburgh, with distinction. Rhonda received the University of Edinburgh’s David Edge prize for her dissertation.