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Canadian Science Policy Centre | Panel 515 - What Future for Young Science Policy Practitioners?

Panel 515 - What Future for Young Science Policy Practitioners?

Conference Day: 
Day 3 - November 15th 2019
Takeaways and recommendations: 

What Future for Young Science Policy Practitioners?

Organized by: Jean-Christophe Mauduit, University College London

Speakers: Tina Gruosso, President, Québec Science & Policy Exchange; Patricia Gruver-Barr, Research & Innovation Attaché, Québec Government Office in Boston; Donovan Guttieres, Organizing Partner, UN Major Group for Children and Youth; Uzma Urooj, Advisor, Science Strategy, Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Moderator: Jean-Christophe Mauduit, Lecturer in Science Diplomacy, University College London

Takeaways:

  1. The world is quickly moving into a knowledge-based economy and global challenges are increasingly science-, technology- and innovation-driven.

  2. There is an increasing need for science-savvy personnel, from Master’s level to PhDs and early-career researchers, to work in government and international institutions.

  3. Young scientists are increasingly interested in joining the science and policy/diplomacy interface and can make a significant contribution in helping develop sound policies. 

  4. The increasing supply and demand are creating more and more entry points. 

  5. However, these entry points still remain difficult to find for young scientists who may not yet have engaged in science policy/diplomacy activities which creates an inter-generational barrier to entry (more opportunities for senior scientists).

  6. In Canada, some entry points are provided by organizations like MITACS (Canada) who place scientists in government through its science policy fellowship and leadership programs. But opportunities also exist at the federal level and regional level (e.g., Fonds de Recherche du Québec “scientists in residence” program).

  7. Worldwide opportunities include country-specific fellowships (e.g., U.S. AAAS S&T fellows or Mirzayan), university groups and non-profits (e.g. Global Young Academy or Québec Science & Policy Exchange), UN-level groups (UN MGCY Science Policy Interface) or publishing in dedicated journals for young science policy enthusiasts (e.g., the Journal of Science Policy & Governance), etc. 

  8. A PhD is valued but not necessary to work at the science policy/diplomacy interface. 

  9. A broad science-based background gives young people the ability to move from field to field in policy development.

  10. The private sector is also a significant stakeholder in science and innovation, as it has a great capacity for young scientists and allows them to see policy issues from a different perspective.

  11. Young people are good at experimenting and adapting. The fact that they are not attached to the old way of doing things can be an advantage. Barriers to entry such as the intergenerational gap and gender issues are slowly diminishing. 

Actions:

  1. Millennials should not be afraid to leverage their strengths, skills and personality in contributing to science policy but need to be proactive in finding activities and pathways to these careers. 

  2. Those who want to become involved in science policy should participate in diverse experiences (e.g., extracurricular activities, building relationships through volunteering and creating their own opportunities through networking). 

  3. Policymaking involves consensus building. Young science policy practitioners can develop these skills by joining forces with others (e.g., likeminded NGOs) to cooperate on funding proposals, rather than competing against each other. 

  4. There is a need to create more initiatives and institutional spaces where young people can engage side-by-side with government and bring new perspectives to international science policy discussions to further bridge the intergenerational gap.

  5. Universities need develop Master’s level science policy and science diplomacy programs (e.g., University College London MPA in Science, Engineering and Public Policy) to build the science policy/diplomacy interface early-on.