Helping politicians get science

Helping politicians get science

The disconnection between what scientists know and what politicians do can be very frustrating. How do we bridge that gap?

In the US, Congress had the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, but chose to disband it in 2005. Its role was to provide “unbiased information concerning the physical, biological, economic, social, and political effects” of technological applications. An authoritative body like OTA is one approach to bridging the science gap, and one that I hope the Congress will restart soon.

In Canada, the Partnership Group for Science and Engineering (PAGSE) has been making a very useful contribution to bridging the gap. They provide regular lectures for parliamentarians on subjects of scientific interest, in an informal, unofficial but well attended series called “Bacon and Eggheads”.

This flagship series brings together Parliamentarians with experts across science and engineering, showcasing outstanding Canadian research accomplishments. Its purpose is to provide unbiased insight into topical scientific issues, within a non-partisan forum in which lobbying is not permitted. This prestigious forum represents a unique opportunity for scientists to communicate important findings to a distinguished and influential audience, which includes key decision-makers.

The series is organized by PAGSE, an umbrella group of 25 + science and engineering organizations operating under the auspices of the Royal Society, and is cosponsored by NSERC. Breakfasts are held once-monthly in Room 200 of the West Block while Parliament is in session.

Recent lecture topics include: Hot prospects in the cold: the new Geological Map of the Arctic; Life, Climate and Vanishing Ice at the Top of Canada; and Are Batteries and Fuel Cells ready for All-Electric Vehicles?

Read more: Ottawa Citizen