Peter Gluckman at CSPC: Science Advice in a Troubled World

By: Sam Garnett

January 16, 2017

Chief Science Advisor to the New Zealand Prime Minister, Peter Gluckman gave a talk for Institute of Science, Society and Policy (ISSP) and Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) on Monday in Ottawa, detailing some of the challenges currently facing science policy making.

He spoke about the “messy” point of meeting between science, policy and society. For this reason, he said the Chief Science Advisor must act as a broker or translator between the different parties, rather than advocating for science. Stating:

“I distinguish it from advocacy because the point of brokerage is to be a translator and interpreter (between science and society). Brokerage is about getting the right and appropriate question asked and answered, to the extent possible. “It’s about what the science can tell us, what we can be reasonably certain about, what are the gaps in our knowledge, and what are the implications of what we know and what we don’t know? It’s about the caveats… and the policy options that might emerge. (It’s about) the costs and benefits of each option. “But it cannot resolve those. It is for the policy maker to resolve between the options.”

He also noted that a Chief Science Advisor can become distrusted if they are perceived to be lobbying for funding for science, something that could be relevant when the Canadian Government fills its Chief Science Advisor position announced in December 2016.

These comments echo his keynote speech at SPE’s STEM working group event.

The full lecture can be seen here:

Read more about the event in the the Ottawa Citizen.

Visit CSPC’s twitter page: the @sciencepolicy for more information on the lecture series