64 episodes

How far should we rely on science to make political decisions? What makes a good science advisor — or a good science advice system? What do we do when the evidence is incomplete or controversial? What happens when science advice goes wrong and how can we fix it?

We explore these questions, and many more, in conversation with the researchers, policymakers and communicators who make science advice happen around the world.

The Science for Policy podcast is produced by SAPEA, part of the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism. We are a consortium of more than a hundred European academies, funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant number 737432. The many and varied opinions expressed on this podcast are those of the guests themselves. They do not necessarily represent the views of SAPEA or the European Commission.

Our theme music is part of Carlo Alfredo Piatti's Caprice no.9 for solo cello, performed by Elizaveta Sushchenko.

Science for Policy SAPEA

    • Science
    • 5.0 • 2 Ratings

How far should we rely on science to make political decisions? What makes a good science advisor — or a good science advice system? What do we do when the evidence is incomplete or controversial? What happens when science advice goes wrong and how can we fix it?

We explore these questions, and many more, in conversation with the researchers, policymakers and communicators who make science advice happen around the world.

The Science for Policy podcast is produced by SAPEA, part of the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism. We are a consortium of more than a hundred European academies, funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant number 737432. The many and varied opinions expressed on this podcast are those of the guests themselves. They do not necessarily represent the views of SAPEA or the European Commission.

Our theme music is part of Carlo Alfredo Piatti's Caprice no.9 for solo cello, performed by Elizaveta Sushchenko.

    Carina Keskitalo on undead models of science advice

    Carina Keskitalo on undead models of science advice

    What's that misshapen, lumbering form looming from the shadows? Why, it's the old linear model of science advice, already killed a thousand times over, but somehow still living -- and it's coming for YOU.
     
    Luckily, we have Professor Carina Keskitalo to hammer (another) stake into the heart of this monstrosity, with a tour-de-force about why you can't just tell your social scientists to shut up and do stakeholder engagement. Shoulder your crossbow, clutch your crucifix and enjoy!
     
    Resources mentioned in this episode
    The social aspects of environmental and climate change. http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-191872 
    Help us choose a channel for our listeners' community: https://bit.ly/3XE8LRY 

    • 31 min
    Christiane Gerblinger on how experts self-sabotage

    Christiane Gerblinger on how experts self-sabotage

    When science advisors are employed by governments, how do they reconcile the competing needs to accurately convey the science, while ensuring it can be of maximum use in the current political context?
    Dr Christiane Gerblinger has one answer: her research suggests that advisors adopt strategies to make themselves deliberately ignorable.
     
    Resources mentioned in this episode
    How Government Experts Self-Sabotage: The language of the rebuffed. https://press.anu.edu.au/publications/how-government-experts-self-sabotage 

    • 31 min
    Noam Obermeister on how science advisors learn

    Noam Obermeister on how science advisors learn

    So you want to be a science advisor? The bad news: there aren't really any books, powerpoint presentations or training courses that can teach you the skills you need. The good news: doctoral researcher Noam Obermeister has found out everything he can about the learning journeys of scientists who work with policymakers, both what they learn and how. And he might even be able to tell you if you will sink or swim.
     
    Resources mentioned in this episode
    Twitter thread on science advisors' learning journeys: https://twitter.com/NObermeister/status/1584932780840194048 

    • 43 min
    Geoff Mulgan on how to synthesise knowledge

    Geoff Mulgan on how to synthesise knowledge

    On this podcast, and in the world of science advice studies generally, we spend a lot of time discussing the science-policy interface and what should exist on the 'science' side of it in order to most effectively support policymaking. But Professor Sir Geoff Mulgan asks a different question: what happens on the other side of the interface, when policymakers are landed with a vast array of knowledge, theory and opinion, and have to somehow construct from that — and their own political and economic realities — an intelligible way forward.

    • 41 min
    Barbara Prainsack on ethics advice in a crisis

    Barbara Prainsack on ethics advice in a crisis

    We live in an age of crisis — and the crises that we face are more numerous, more widespread and more overlapping than ever before. In the chaos of high-pressure, life-and-death policymaking, politicians could benefit not just from scientific advice but also from the input of ethicists. That's where Barbara Prainsack, chair of the European Group on Ethics and New Technologies, comes into the picture.
     
    Resources mentioned in this episode

    Statement on values in times of crisis: https://research-and-innovation.ec.europa.eu/document/1690e112-9826-4ede-811b-fad63167b9d9_en (available from 22 November)


    Evidence review report and Scientific opinion on strategic crisis management in the EU: https://www.sapea.info/crisis/ (available from 22 November)

    • 44 min
    Rebecca Natow on politically-infused evidence use

    Rebecca Natow on politically-infused evidence use

    Evidence is not the exclusive province of science advisors and science advice institutions. And especially in policy areas where those institutions are weak or absent, other forces rush to fill the vacuum: stakeholders, lobbyists, interest groups.
     
    In this epsiode, Dr Rebecca Natow talks to Toby Wardman about federal education policy in the US, a domain that employs a 'negotiated rulemaking' methodology to try to find consensus among many stakeholders — even though scientific input is also legally mandated. The result is a swirling, politically-infused debate around the meaning of both quantitative and qualitative evidence.
     
    Resources mentioned in this episode

    Reexamining the federal role in higher education https://www.tcpress.com/reexamining-the-federal-role-in-higher-education-9780807766767 


    Higher education rulemaking: the politics of creating regulatory policy https://www.press.jhu.edu/books/title/11563/higher-education-rulemaking 

    • 37 min

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