The Communication of Science to Decision-Makers and to Society
CEES Extra seminar by Jeffrey A. Hutchings. Note the day.
Scientific advice is integral to decision-making. I would argue that the provision of such advice to government, and the provision of scientific knowledge to society, constitutes a model that best serves national parliaments and the peoples they represent. Evidence suggests that this role has been fundamentally altered in Canada. Examples include weakening of environmental legislation, dismantling of science capacity, censorship of government scientists, and misrepresentation of science by decision-makers to society. Recent revisions to Canada’s Fisheries Act (Hutchings & Post. 2013. Fisheries 38: 478-501) illustrate unintended and unhelpful consequences of dissociating science from policy. While weaving through these examples, I focus on elements fundamental to the effective use of scientific advice and knowledge: credibility; peer review; communication; transparency. There is a fundamental need for scientists, especially young scientists, and those in academia, to be fully cognisant of these issues and to consider how they might act to strengthen the role of scientific advice in decision making and the value of science to society as a whole.
Jeffrey A. Hutchings
Department of Biology, Life Sciences Centre, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4R2