36 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.

    Heather Douglas on how values shape science advice

    Heather Douglas on how values shape science advice

    The practice of science is impossible without importing its values from society, and it's time to leave behind the notion of the independent science advisor who speaks truth to power. So argues Professor Heather Douglas, author of the influential book 'Science, Policy and the Value-Free Ideal'.


    In this episode, Toby Wardman talks to Professor Douglas about how we can make sense of a scientific community imbued with a diverse mixture of ethical values, and which ideals should replace independence for those who give scientific advice to policymakers.


    Heather Douglas works at Michigan State University and is a board member of the Peritia project on trust in science.


    Resources mentioned in this episode
    Science, Policy and the Value-Free Ideal: https://upittpress.org/books/9780822960263/

    Blackawton bee study: https://www.wired.com/2010/12/kids-study-bees/ 

    • 44 min
    Michel Claessens on science, policy and Covid-19

    Michel Claessens on science, policy and Covid-19

    The global pandemic which began in 2020 has brought unprecedented exposure and pressure for science advisors. A recent book, The Science and Politics of Covid-19, surveys the political and scientific response to the crisis. This episode features a wide-ranging conversation with the author, Dr Michel Claessens, on what went right, what went wrong, and what this might mean for the future of science advice.


    Resources mentioned in this episode
    The Science and Politics of Covid-19: https://www.bookspot.be/engelse-boeken/the-science-and-politics-of-covid-19-9783030778637

    • 35 min
    Thea Snow and Adrian Brown on different sources of knowledge for policy

    Thea Snow and Adrian Brown on different sources of knowledge for policy

    We all know that scientific evidence is just one of many inputs into policymaking. But what if the notion of evidence itself is too narrow? Are there reliable sources of knowledge other than 'evidence', and if so, how can they be integrated into the policymaking process alongside the theories and data offered by science?


    At the Centre for Public Impact, Adrian Brown and Thea Snow work to broaden policymakers' understanding of the kinds of knowledge that governments can work with. In this episode, they talk to Toby Wardman about how the world of science advice can adapt to this broader understanding too.


    Resources mentioned in this episode
    Centre for Public Impact: https://www.centreforpublicimpact.org/

    'Braiding sweetgrass', by Robin Wall Kimmerer: https://milkweed.org/book/braiding-sweetgrass

    'Seeing like a state', by James Scott:  https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300078152/seeing-state

    The Cynefin framework: https://www.cognitive-edge.com/

    • 53 min
    Leire Rincón García on evidence, ideas, and the race for political attention

    Leire Rincón García on evidence, ideas, and the race for political attention

    Politicians and lobbyists alike dream of the silver bullet: a single killer piece of scientific evidence that will change all our minds about future policymaking. But could any simple piece of evidence have the power to beat big ideas in public debate? And can evidence garner political attention even when the politicians don't go looking for it?


    Dr Leire Rincón García's field research on the policy of Universal Basic Income seems to suggest that the answer is 'no'. In this episode, Dr Rincón and Toby Wardman together debate why parliamentarians were more likely to ignore emails that cited evidence, what could be done about it, and whether there is a defensible role for the 'activist scientist' in policy advice.


     


    Resources mentioned in this episode
    The reverse silver bullet: https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/tpp/ep/2021/00000017/00000003/art00003;jsessionid=50s51rbqg6uec.x-ic-live-01

    • 37 min
    Jennifer Clapp on global food systems advice

    Jennifer Clapp on global food systems advice

    One in three people in the world suffers from malnutrition of one form or another. The world's most prominent intergovernmental body for addressing this challenge, the UN Committee on World Food Security, has its own science advice service made up of experts from around the world.


    In this episode, Professor Jennifer Clapp gives Toby Wardman a whirlwind tour of the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition, the challenges of making policy in such a complex topic as global food systems, and what it's like to give high-profile science advice at a global level.


    Resources mentioned in this episode
    Committee on World Food Security High-Level Panel of Experts: http://www.fao.org/cfs/cfs-hlpe 

    • 43 min
    Who‘s afraid of epistemic diversity?

    Who‘s afraid of epistemic diversity?

    In this special episode, twelve scholars of science advice discuss the challenges of incorporating a radically diverse range of perspectives into a science advice process. This conversation was recorded as part of the INGSA 2021 conference on global science advice, and is moderated by Estelle Balian.


    Speakers in order of appearance
    Jacopo Torriti, Professor of Energy Economics and Policy, School of the Built Environment, University of Reading

    Tuula Teeri, President of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, Chair of Euro-CASE

    Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy Central European University, member of the IPCC and member of SAPEA energy working group

    Jennie Stephens, Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and the Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science and Policy, Northeastern University

    Thomas Bauwens, Senior Researcher and Lecturer at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University

    Clark Miller, Professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and Director of the Center for Energy and Society, Arizona State University

    Alex Stingl, Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick

    Katri Mäkinen-Rostedt, Tampere University

    Kristian Nielsen, Research Associate at the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab, Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge

    Yvan Dutil, Ministry of Health and Social Services, Québec

    Heather Douglas, philosopher of science, Michigan State University


    Resources mentioned in this episode
    Original recording: www.sapea.info/epistemic-diversity


    The original recording also includes remarks from Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Tom van Ierland, Sebastien Renaud and David Mair.

    • 52 min

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