Upcoming talk tackles tensions between evidence-based policy and democracy

Shaun Young, senior policy associate at the University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre for Policy Innovation, will discuss the tensions between the idea of evidence-based policy and the practice of democracy at the next talk in the Osgoode-York Seminar Series in Policy Research.

“Evidence of Democracy? The Relationship Between Evidence-Based Policy and Democratic Government” will take place Thursday, March 25, from 12:30 to 2pm at 901 York Research Tower, Keele campus.

Right: Shaun Young

The preceding decade has witnessed the production of a substantial volume of scholarship dedicated to exploring the concept of evidence-based policy. In addition, evidence has secured an unparalleled pride of place, at least, rhetorically, among policy-makers, says Young. However, a number of additional considerations have been identified as influencing policy-makers’ decisions, desirably or otherwise,  including fiscal and time constraints, personal experience, societal values and short-term and long-term political strategy.

Arguably, policy-makers in contemporary democratic politics have no choice but to incorporate such considerations into their decision-making if they genuinely wish to produce a policy proposal that is both politically and publicly viable, says Young. In his talk, he will address whether such a situation problematically impedes the meaningful realization of evidence-based policy and will offer preliminary observations concerning certain tensions between the idea of evidence-based policy and the practice of democracy. He will also look at the degree to which those tensions might and should be resolved.

Young has seven years of experience in policy development and research planning with the provincial government, including with the Ministries of Municipal Affairs & Housing, Aboriginal Affairs, and most recently, Health & Long-Term Care. He has taught public policy, Canadian government and politics, and political theory at the University of Toronto Scarborough, Carleton University, York and Brock University, and has published numerous books and essays in the areas of public policy and political theory.

He is an external fellow at both the York Centre for Public Policy & Law (YCPPL) and the York Centre for Practical Ethics. He held a Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship at York.

Everyone is welcome to attend the talk. A light lunch will be served. The series is sponsored by the YCPPL.

Anyone wishing to attend should confirm by contacting Jennifer Dalton, YCPPL research fellow and seminar series coordinator, at jedalton@yorku.ca or ext. 33233.