Giving a Voice to Students & Early Career Researchers in International Science Policy and Diplomacy in the Post-Truth Era

September 11, 2019 | 11:36 am
Gary W. Kerr & JC Mauduit

Science increasingly underpins many of the global challenges the world is facing today. In turn, the ever-changing global political landscape also has a significant influence on our ability to pursue science needed to tackle these challenges. And in our interconnected 21st century, domestic policies set in one country inevitably have global repercussions. 

With the United Kingdom set to leave the European Union on 31st October 2019 (Brexit), it is unclear what impact this will have on the UK’s research and innovation capacity. Indeed, the UK is one of the largest recipients of EU research funding, receiving €8.8 billion out of the EU’s total €107 billion spending on research, innovation and development between 2007 and 2013. Exiting the EU, possibly without a deal, means that UK’s STEM professionals, diplomats and policy makers need to find strategies to mitigate any potential negative impacts of Brexit on the sector. Acknowledging that the problem is about more than cash-flow of research funding, early career researchers set up the Scientists for EU movement: a campaign by scientists to keep the UK in the EU. Scientists for EU are concerned about the UK no longer being able to collaborate on research projects with other European nations, and the negative impact this could have on the overall advancement of much needed scientific knowledge and technological breakthroughs.

The emergence of the so-called post-truth era has motivated students, early career researchers and policy fellows across the world to move out of the labs and onto the streets to stand up for science. The President of the USA, Donald Trump, called global warming “bullshit” and a “Chinese hoax”, and the UK’s former Environment Secretary, now Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove has said that the British people have “had enough of experts”. Consequently, the ‘March for Science’ movement first took place on Earth Day (22 April) in 2017 and saw scientists from over 600 cities across the world march through their cities, stand up for scientists, and call for evidence-based policy in political decision-making.

JSPG contributions to science policy and diplomacy

These actions are much needed in this aberrant context, but early career researchers and policy fellows also have a vital role to play in  providing evidence-based recommendations and policy analyses, and in engaging with politicians and decision-makers to protect scientific research. After all, it is students and early career researchers who are most affected by a trajectory towards the rejection of scientific knowledge in favour of political point-scoring.

The Journal of Science Policy and Governance (JSPG) is an international forum that provides students, early career researchers, and policy fellows with a platform to publish policy-related pieces of work across a wide range of science, technology, and innovation policy areas, from all STEM disciplines to social science perspectives on STEM. Formats include policy memos, technical reports, book reviews, workshop reports and policy analyses. JSPG is a registered 501(c)(3) charity in the USA but it has a global reach and receives submissions from every corner of the world.

Since its formation in 2012, JSPG has received and published submissions that tackle such global science, technology & innovation policy issues, including

  • A policy analysis that explores the challenges that NASA faces in collaborating with China as a rising power in the exploration of space (Hester, 2016).
  • A policy analysis that explores the lessons from Kenyan modern biotechnology processes and the controversies surrounding the use of biotechnology in agricultural productivity and production (Kingiri & Ayele, 2012).
  • A policy memo that urges India’s Ministry for New and Renewable Energy to provide financial incentives for the dairy industry to help maximise biogas production at industrial level (Naryan, Li & Timmons, 2018).
  • The proposals put forward to the Governor of Ulaanbaatar to introduce policies such as a car allowance rebate system and incentives for pairing electric vehicle charging infrastructure with on-site renewable energy in order to combat unsafe levels of particulate matter smog in the Ulaanbaatar district of Mongolia (Zegas & Zegas, 2018)
  • A policy memo addressed to India’s Minister for Health and Family Welfare that addresses the problems of antimicrobial resistance and provides a series of recommendations to implement the National Action Plan and tackle the misuse of antibiotics (Chatterjee, Rabbani & Sandford, 2017).

We actively encourage more international young scholars to submit articles on domestic or global science policy and governance issues and to make their voice heard, whilst helping develop their professional skills and credibility in global science policy and diplomacy. We hope that JSPG can become an international voice for science.

Partner with us

JSPG’s efforts are global, and we are always actively seeking international partners and collaborators. If you would like to get in touch with us to discuss collaborations and partnerships, please email us at [email protected]. Also consider joining our mailing list, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. Together, we will address the most topical issues in global science, technology and innovation policy by encouraging students, early career researchers and policy fellows from across the world to share their ideas on how we can solve global challenges of the day.

Gary W. Kerr is Lecturer in Festival & Event Management at Edinburgh Napier University and a science communication and science events specialist. Gary’s research is focused on the role of science festivals and public engagement events. He is the Chief International & Operations Officer at JSPG, having previously served as Director of Operations and International Outreach, Editor-in-Chief, and before that as an Associate Editor. Gary is a former Science Policy Fellow at the Scottish Parliament.

JC Mauduit is Lecturer in Science Diplomacy at University College London and he was previously a Visiting Scholar at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. He currently acts as Director of International Engagement for JSPG where he also volunteered as an Associate Editor. He also has a former career as a researcher in Astrophysics and worked for the International Astronomical Union.

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