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Getting science into policy in international development: faults on both sides?

ucyow3c2 December 2015

pencil-icon Written by Ms Helen Hopkins, Dr Olivia Stevenson and Mr Greg Tinker (OVPR)

These days you are just as likely to hear academics as you are policymakers use terms such as ‘evidence-based’, ‘evidence-informed’, or ‘evidence-led’ policy. Yet barriers to getting science into policy in international development remain.

Professor Christopher Whitty has witnessed this first hand as Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA) and Director of Research and Evidence to the Department for International Development (DFID). Now his term has come to a close, he joined us at UCL to reflect on the challenges of the CSA role and to answer the question, ‘How do we increase the uptake of academic research within policy?’

Science in emergencies: the need for speed
The 2015 Nepal earthquake, the 2014 Ebola crisis and Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in 2013, all happened while Professor Whitty was DFID CSA. He soon learnt that during emergencies, ministers were keen to listen to scientific advice: action needed to be taken quickly, backed up with solid evidence. Professor Whitty described this as the easy part of his job, as he had a captive audience.

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Scientists, MPs, and NASA directors flock to Parliament to discuss planetary science’s impact on society

news editor12 September 2013

The Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London.

The Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London.

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Written by Katrine Iversen, a current student at UCL and a European Planetary Science Congress science communication intern.

It’s packed in Parliamentary Committee Room 11 as the first Policy Meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) is due to begin in Parliament.

As a part of the EPSC, currently being held at UCL, people flocking to the meeting include MPs, NASA directors and scientists from all over the world, looking to discuss the importance of planetary science to society and how to ensure further growth and development within the field.

The meeting, which took place on Monday 9 September, was a huge success. Two members of the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee, Andrew Miller (MP for Ellesmere Port and Leston) and Dr Phillip Lee (MP for Bracknell), chaired the meeting while other MPs sent researchers to report back.

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Science, politics and sport…..

Katherine Aitchison9 June 2011

Science Question Time is a brilliant feature of the festival where three or four speakers take time out from participating in their own session or chilling out in the green room to answer the public’s questions. I’ve been to two of these sessions now and they’ve both covered vastly different topics. The topics covered depend partly on the specialties of the panel but are also largely dictated by the interests of the audience as this really is your chance to ask the scientists anything. Tuesday’s session covered the robotics of warfare and the ethics of using drones to attack human soldiers, the cyclical nature of science reporting (apparently even the journalists are aware that they write the same stories year on year) and the factors involved in life expectancy.

Today, Question Time was chaired by Mark Lythgoe, director of both UCL’s Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging and the Cheltenham Festival. The discussion focussed more on the ethics around enhancing human biology and also the politics of science. The guests on the panel were Andy Miah, Professor of Ethics at the University of the West of Scotland, Mark Henderson, science editor for the Times newspaper, and Steve Haake, Professor of Sports Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University.
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