The SPE model goes international - New Zealand unveils their own "Science Policy Exchange"

By: Shawn McGuirk

December 13, 2016

Last year, we had the chance and honour to meet with Sir Peter Gluckman in the offices of the Chief Scientist of Quebec. The Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand had only just returned from the 2015 Canadian Science Policy Conference and was, like us, energized from the appointment of Kirsty Duncan as our Science Minister. For nearly an hour we discussed the future of science policy in Canada, particularly regarding the importance of including students and early-career scientists in this process.

During his keynote at our the following day at our STEM working group, Dr. Gluckman noted that New Zealand would greatly benefit from developing an initiative like Science & Policy Exchange - this wasn't just a statement. Yesterday, the New Zealand Science Policy Exchange had its first official meeting!

In announcing this first meeting, Dr Gluckman noted:

"A few months ago, I announced the launch of a new initiative through my office. Inspired by a model that I’d observed in Montreal Canada, the Science Policy Exchange is an initiative that brings together early career scientists and policy professionals who have a mutual interest in each other’s sectors and who want to help improve the possibilities for scientifically-informed public policy. ... I believe that the scientists and policy professionals of the SPE will teach one another (and the rest of us) a great deal about the reality of their respective worlds."

Their call to action raised 150 applications, from which 57 women and 43 men were chosen as the final group. Of the 100 members, 30 represent government bodies and NGO's and 70 are early career scientists, spanning a number of disciplines from computer science, engineering, ecology, nanotech, molecular biology, education, law, psychology, Maori studies, to policy studies.

We look forward to more news from our friends overseas, and on our end it is immensely gratifying to see the impact SPE has in elevating the voice of students and early-career scientists in policy decisions both here and on the other side of the globe.

Click here to view the official call to action, and here to view the slides and proceedings of the first meeting of the New Zealand group.