Workshop for students focuses on bridging the gap between science and policy

York Science graduate students and post-doctoral fellows were invited to attend a workshop led by Maurice Bitran, CEO of the Ontario Science Centre, to learn about how to effectively bridge the gap between scientific research and policy formulation. The workshop took place April 5.

“There is often a disconnect between the languages spoken by scientists and public policy makers,” says Robert McLaren, professor and director of the Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry. “The intent of the workshop was to help students in understanding the process and factors that influence how government policy is made and importantly how the critical science is incorporated into that process. Thank you to Carol Weldon for organizing the event.”

Above: Maurice Bitran
Above: Maurice Bitran

The workshop was organized by the Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry in the Faculty of Science and funded by the NSERC CREATE Integrating Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics from Earth to Space program. It was open to all graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in Science.

Bitran delivered a compelling presentation that explored the policy development process, a framework for the development of science-based policies, and the communication of such policies. He presented from a unique perspective: he’s a scientist (with a PhD in radio astronomy), and before coming to the Ontario Science Centre he held various positions in government, the most recent being Assistant Deputy Minister of the Integrated Environmental Policy Division in the Ministry of the Environment.

One of Bitran’s take away messages was that in order to establish a science-based policy framework, it is critical to develop a common language between policymakers and scientists so that they can work together meaningfully.

The workshop closed with questions from the audience and an engaging discussion that inspired students to think about their future roles as scientists.