Dr Claire Craig: Case study

at Government Office for Science (GO-Science)

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Director, Government Office for Science

We all know networks are important in the abstract, but it’s sometimes hard to pin down what makes them work well.

The role of the Government Office for Science (GO-Science) is to provide quality science advice across government, and to support government departments in doing so too. We rely wholly on access to the best science and scientists. One day we may be dealing with an emergency such as the disruptive effects of volcanic ash, the next looking 50 years into the future of cities. Good networks are therefore essential to us.

CSaP’s ability to create and energise contacts has helped me and my teams over the last few years in at least four ways. Firstly, the Centre’s Distinguished Lectures have included some memorable moments – I recall particularly Adair Turner talking about how he approaches the fundamental difficulty of combining precision with impact when communicating climate science, or Jaan Tallinn setting out what he thinks needs to happen to mitigate the risks from future artificial intelligences.

Secondly, several members of GO-Science have been Policy Fellows. I’ve been fascinated to see how policy officials with aptitude but without a science background have been personally inspired and stretched by the opportunity to explore an issue that matters to them, through being immersed in academic thinking. They’ve emerged with fresh thoughts, networks and greater confidence in engaging with senior academics.

Thirdly, CSaP colleagues have spotted some useful relationships that I hadn’t realised I needed, and helped me broker contacts for others in government. And fourthly, GO-Science is now collaborating with CSAP on a pilot Policy Challenge project to explore new behavioural insights into dealing with emergencies. The valuable networks continue to grow.