Science Outside the Lab (SOtL) North is a deep-dive, immersive introduction to science, policy, and societal impacts.


Students spend one week at the ISSP at the University of Ottawa (Ontario) and at Concordia University in Montreal (Québec), developing skills that will help them understand and succeed in their endeavours at the intersection of science and society.

During the week-long workshop, participants (including Master's and PhD students, as well as Postdocs and young professionals) meet and interact with the people who fund, regulate, shape, critique, publicize, and study science, including government scientists, funding agency officers, science-focused interest groups, science communicators, academics, museum curators, and others. It’s a high-paced, high-intensity opportunity to build a professional network, learn about the wide-range of opportunities for scientists to affect policy and government, and to develop the skills needed to succeed in professional lives outside the lab.

The program

A typical day at SOtL is packed from morning until evening. Most days are centred on 90-minute 'expert discussions,' where we are joined by someone who works at the science, policy, and society interface. The group leads these conversations through questions, exploring everything from the intricacies of policy development and museum curation, to work-life balance and how they navigated career-building. Some of these experts visit us in the classroom, and others require power-walking across Ottawa from office to office. We discuss and debate these perspectives over breakfast at the residence, locally-catered lunches in the classroom, and happy hours in the evening.

The program takes place under an adapted version of Chatham House Rules, which allows participants to take notes and share what they've learned, while not attributing quotations to particular speakers or participants. This is essential to creating an environment where speakers and participants alike feel like they can share candidly, openly, and honestly. By design, the program is immersive, intense, and experiential.

Supporting organizations

SOtL North is run by the Forum on Science, Policy, and Society, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to training the next generation of science policy leaders. SOtL North is generously supported and enabled by Concordia University, the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa and the Center for Expressive Technologies at California Polytechnic State University