Scientists do research and governments make laws. Although these entities might not seem interdependent, grand challenges such as public health require efficient communication between researchers and the government, leading to evidence-based science policies. For almost 10 years, the goal of Science and Policy Exchange (SPE), an entirely student-run organization, has been to help bridge the gap between academia, industry, and government by bringing the student voice to matters of science policy.
As a grad student, why should you care about science policy? After the government-commissioned Fundamental Science Review, released in April 2017, reported a constant decline in Canadian scientific productivity, scientists campaigned to increase fundamental science funding in Canada and succeeded in getting a significant investment from the government in Budget 2018. Canada’s funding for basic research is one of the many concerns that will significantly impact future generation of researchers, and student activism mobilized by SPE and others played a key role in getting a positive response from the government. As the scientists of tomorrow, students are stakeholders in the science policy decisions of today.
Student engagement in Canadian science policy is crucial, but why stop there? Canada’s presidency at the G7 summit in May 2018 places us in a unique position to show the world that Canada has tremendous potential to lead in science at the international level. Our country is at the heart of global concerns such as climate change and the changing Arctic Circle, which outline a need for science and evidence in diplomatic discussions.
SPE has decided to take advantage of the exceptional series of geopolitical events that happened in the past year and a half to offer students an introduction and practical exposure to science diplomacy. Our two day “Students and Science Diplomacy” event will aim to facilitate discussion among a panel of experts and students on how to better engage young scientists in science diplomacy and how to best value policy engagement into their scientific training and careers.
Applications are due April 9! For more information, visit our website.
Marie Franquin joined the Integrated Program in Neuroscience at McGill University in 2014. Her PhD project focuses on understanding early involvement of the motor cortex in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis pathogenesis using two complementary models: a human induced pluripotent stem cells model and a mouse model of the disease. Marie has also served as her institute’s representative for two years and is involved in science outreach programs such as Brain Reach and the Convergence Initiative. By joining SPE as VP Marketing, Marie hopes to contribute to voicing students’ concerns and interest in the current political dialogues but also help reinforce the link between science and the public.