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During the COVID-19 pandemic, it became commonplace both for leaders and the public to recognize and discuss the strained relationship between science and society. What are the factors that explain the growing tensions between science, innovation and society? It is important to note that recent bias – the proclivity to place inflated importance and perceived continuity in recent happenings – may be at play. This bias can lead to the dismissal of a given phenomenon’s history. Therefore, we must also ask ourselves: What are the root causes of the current situation? How can we move forward together?
The democratization of information sharing via social media and instant messaging has likely contributed to these tensions, while public access to high-quality scientific information remains elusive. This juxtaposition has had profound impacts on the perceived relationship between science and society. Everyone now has a platform from which to speak and the ubiquitous nature of the internet misleads us to think every opinion is as valid as the next.
Questions regarding the relationship between science, innovation, and society have found a home in IOG’s research project Beyond Endless Frontiers, funded through a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant and co-led with the University of Ottawa. This project will examine the governance that underpins Canada’s scientific enterprise and explore, through six themes, the elements of a new framework for science and innovation. The six themes are:
Science and innovation have brought huge benefits to society but we know that they often raise challenges as well. The public struggles to keep pace with the disruptions of newly emerging technologies. With the decline of trust, there are worrying signs of a public unsure about the value and authority of science in their everyday lives. There is a growing disconnect between what the public increasingly sees as unapproachable, elitist institutions and what scientists see as a lack of public appreciation for the modes and merit of their work.
The growing public understanding of the importance of diversity and the desire for reconciliation with Indigenous people are also considerations. Scientific information is disseminated to people by people. Therefore, we must consider who makes up the scientific community, what challenges they take on, and what science is left undone.
 Rob Annan, Rees Kassen, Jeff Kinder and Rhonda Moore (2019) “Renewing the social contract for science and innovation,” The Hill Times, November 11, p. 25.
Working with the public, private, academic, and non-profit sectors, the partnership will be developed to conduct policy research and foresight, convene roundtables, and model new knowledge co-development approaches with a variety of stakeholders. The IOG has partnered with the University of Ottawa (Telfer School of Management and the Institute for Science, Society and Policy) to lead this project. Collaborators from the Belmont Forum, Business Higher Education Roundtable, Canadian Science Policy Centre, Genome Canada, Ingenium, University of Manitoba, McMaster University, University of Ottawa, the University of Saskatchewan, and the University of Victoria will bring subject-matter expertise to this work, support knowledge mobilization, and provide student training.
Sandra Schillo focuses her research on improved methodologies relating to the measurement of innovation, entrepreneurship and their impact.
Dr. Schillo has research and professional experience in the areas of science and technology, research and innovation management and entrepreneurship. Her professional work experience includes work completed for Industry Canada and many science based departments and agencies of the Canadian federal government.
Dr. Schillo completed her doctoral studies at the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, University of Kiel, Germany. She obtained her Masters’ degree in Engineering Management from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany, majoring in corporate strategy and specializing in innovation management and technology transfer.
Dr. Jeff Kinder is Project Director at the Council of Canadian Academies where he is directing assessments on international science and technology partnerships and quantum technologies. At the University of Ottawa, Jeff is the inaugural Executive-in-Residence at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy and adjunct at the Telfer School of Management. He is a member of the board of the Canadian Science Policy Centre and the governing council of the HIBAR Research Alliance.
Jeff has nearly 35 years’ experience in government science, technology and innovation policy in the US and Canada. Most recently, Jeff was Executive Director of Science and Innovation at the Institute on Governance where he co-developed and co-led the Leadership Development Program in Science and Innovation and the Government Science and Innovation in the New Normal research initiative. During 2014-17, he directed the Knox Panel on Government S&T and led the Federal S&T Secretariat supporting the Minister of Science and Deputy Minister Champion for Federal Science. Previous appointments include positions at Industry Canada, Natural Resources Canada and the Council of S&T Advisors (CSTA). His US experience includes the National Science Foundation, the National Academies and the Naval Research Laboratory.
Jeff is co-editor with Paul Dufour of A Lantern on the Bow: A History of the Science Council of Canada and its Contributions to the Science and Innovation Policy Debate (2018). He is author of Government Science 2020: Re-thinking Public Science in a Networked Age (2013) and co-author with Bruce Doern of Strategic Science in the Public Interest: Canada’s Government Laboratories and Science-based Agencies (2007).
For almost 20 years, Rhonda Moore has worked at the intersection of communications, research, and policy analysis and development. At that intersection, Rhonda has sought out opportunities to build relationships, to connect people and ideas, and to promote evidence-informed decision making in plain language.
Prior to joining the IOG in May 2018, Rhonda worked for a variety of private, public, and non-profit organizations including the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (now Universities Canada), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the University of Ottawa, and the Public Policy Forum.
Rhonda is a member of the board of directors of the Science Writers and Communicators of Canada. In 2017 she co-chaired the annual conference, and in 2020 she chaired the organization’s first virtual conference.
Rhonda has a Bachelor of Public Relations from Mount Saint Vincent University and a Master’s degree in Science, Technology and Innovation studies from the University of Edinburgh, with distinction. Rhonda received the University of Edinburgh’s David Edge prize for her dissertation.
Rhonda is fueled by coffee, reading, travel, and spending time outdoors.
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