Newsletter November 2009
Welcome to the fourth newsletter from the Centre for Science and Policy - the University of Cambridge's initiative to strengthen relationships between policy-makers and experts in science and engineering. In this issue:
- Building the Whitehall bridgehead
- Recruitment of the Executive Director
- Lecture and seminar series launched
- CSaP news in brief:
- The $100 genome
- Behavioural change
- Centre Interest Group in "Science and Policy Studies"
Building the Whitehall bridgehead Building bridges with policy makers in national government - at the Permanent Secretary and Director General level in the civil service, as well as with scientific advisers, ministerial staff and their shadows - was a major theme of the CSaP's second External Consultation Meeting, held at the Royal Society in London on 29 October. The participants brought a broad range of experience in science and policy making to bear on the critical analysis of the CSaP's roadmap. The discussion emphasised not only the importance of network-building with governments, think-tanks, and other universities, but also the need to understand the processes through which policy is developed; the key role of behavioural change in the development and adoption of new policies; and the further directions in which the roadmap should be developed, particularly to identify "grand challenges" in food security, transport, energy and health. More...
Recruitment of the CSaP's Executive DirectorThe Centre for Science and Policy has launched its search for a full-time Executive Director, who will work with the Founding Director and the Executive Committee to realise the vision of a world-class centre where policy makers can access the best thinking in science and technology. The ideal candidate will bring proven skills in networking, together with an understanding of both the policy and academic communities. He or she will have experience of working in government, a strong grounding in a scientific discipline, and preferably experience in research. More...
Lecture and seminar series launched The CSaP launches both its Distinguished Lecture Series, and its Associate Seminar Series, in January. The inaugural lecture will be given on 18 January 2010 by Professor David Mackay, Chief Scientific Adviser in the Department for Energy and Climate Change, who will discuss lessons and insights from his first 100 days in government. The second lecture, scheduled for 3 March 2010, will be given by Professor Ben Martin, Professor of Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Sussex. Further lectures are planned for May and June 2010, one of which is to be given by Sarah Mukherjee, the BBC's Environment Correspondent. Lectures will start at 5.30pm in Judge Business School and will allow time for questions and debate.More...
Building the Whitehall bridgehead (cont.)
Commenting at the meeting, Professor Paul Wiles, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Home Office, highlighted both the progress that has been made to date and also the challenges that lie ahead: "The Centre has made a great start with its initial workshop on ecosystems valuation, which has clearly made a real impact within DEFRA, and represented an extraordinarily effective use of time. But not all the topics which the Centre will need to tackle will fit so neatly into a single department, and many of the challenges it will face may lead to policies that will also involve behavioural change. A new policy often requires a new approach that will involve bringing together science, engineering, technology and social science expertise."
Lord Turnbull, former head of the civil service and Cabinet Secretary, emphasised the need to build bridges - and above all to build mutual understanding - between scientists and senior policy makers, particularly at Permanent Secretary and Director General level. "The creation of the Centre is very timely," he commented, "but it needs to take a fresh approach appropriate to the new environment which scientists and policy makers are now facing." As well as members of the policy community, the consultation meeting also brought together key players from Cambridge (both the University and its wider circle), including Dr Andrew Herbert, MD of Microsoft Research, who emphasised Cambridge's "convening power" as a network hub, and commented on the Centre's "real sense of purpose and direction."
Recruitment of the CSaP's Executive Director (cont.)
"This is a unique challenge for a very special individual," commented David Cleevely, the Centre's Founding Director. "Bridging the policy and academic worlds will require real insight into networking and the way it can create value for network members. The role will call not only for excellent communications skills, but also a deep natural curiosity about the world and how it works, and an ability to connect ideas and people. On top of all that, we're looking for someone who has demonstrated the ability to develop and run an organisation operating in an environment of continuous intellectual challenge."
Once appointed (initially for a five-year period), the Executive Director will be responsible for day-to-day operations - delivering the Centre's programme of workshops, lectures and fellowships, building bridges between scientists and senior policy makers, and developing the Centre Interest Groups. He or she will also work closely with the Founding Director on a continuing development programme to raise additional funds for the Centre, securing its future as a self-sustaining unit, and will design and implement a marketing and communications strategy to engage with key stakeholders. Applications are welcomed via http://csap.org.uk/aboutus/jobopps/ (closing date 6 January 2010).
Lecture and seminar series launched (cont.)
The Centre's Associate Network will be made up of the conveners of CIGs, the Centre Fellows and Visiting Fellows, and other senior academics and policy makers who contribute to the Centre's work through its Interest Groups and consultations. It is designed to become an active global network of world-class, well-informed policy makers and academic experts, equipped with both a solid understanding of the issues and communication skills. The Associate Seminar Series is intended to bring this network together twice a term to hear brief presentations on a current science policy issue, and to provide the opportunity for debate and networking. The first such seminar will consider the question "how should the policy impact of scientific research be measured?", and is scheduled to take place on 27 January 2010; invitations and the names of speakers will be sent out early in December.
Attendance at the CSaP's lectures and seminars is by invitation only, but interested members of the University are invited to contact us.
CSaP News in Brief
The $100 Genome. Following the success of the first two workshops for the PHG Foundation on Genomic Medicine on 10 and 19 November, the CSaP is organising an internal consultation meeting under the banner The $100 Genome, which could lead on to the formation of a Centre Interest Group on the policy implications of recent rapid advances in human genomics. The purpose of the meeting - to be held on 22 December - is to identify potential CIG Conveners and other interested parties; to elaborate the scientific issues most relevant to the topic; and to plan for the launch of the Group. If you're interested in this topic please contact us.
Behavioural change. As noted above, an important theme emerging from the Centre's consultation process has been that new policies often involve the need for new approaches, and for behavioural change to allow such new approaches to develop. To this end the CSaP will be running an internal consultation meeting on the topic on 8 December. If you're interested in this topic please contact us.
Centre Interest Group in "Science and Policy Studies". The Centre will hold a meeting on 13 January 2010 to discuss the formation of a CIG on social, political and governance aspects of science, technology, policy and society. This group will be designed to cut across other CIGs that focus on particular technologies and their associated policy fields, and will explore the complex and contingent broader interactions of knowledge, policy, politics, expertise and society that these other CIGs may exemplify. If you're interested in this topic please contact us.
A vote of thanks. Many thanks to Ian Leslie, the outgoing Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, for his valuable contributions to the creation and launch of the CSaP over the last year; and a warm welcome to Lynn Gladden, Shell Professor of Chemical Engineering, who takes over the role (and a seat on the Executive Committee of the CSaP) on 1 January 2010.
A debt of gratitude. CSaP would like to thank the David Harding Foundation and the Isaac Newton Trust for their donations which made the Centre's creation possible.