I am delighted to have been appointed Director of the University of Ottawa's Institute for Science, Society and Policy (ISSP). Since coming on board in the fall 2015, I have become increasingly impressed by the breadth and depth of the ISSP's network of leading scholars, fellows, affiliates and students at the University of Ottawa and beyond. Everyone has given me a warm and enthusiastic welcome, and I am excited about charting the future together.
Inaugural Director Dr. Marc Saner built a first-rate Institute, and I look forward to building on the solid foundations he put in place. I plan to focus on strengthening the Institute's research capacity and research programs, its outreach efforts, notably convening dialogue between and among academics and senior practitioners on salient issues of science, society and policy, and expanding our teaching and training programs, including our recently launched Collaborative Master's in Science, Society and Policy. If we have not yet met, please say hello at one of our upcoming events. I look forward to meeting you.
Marc Saner (2010 - 2015)
As I am entering the final three months of my five-year term, I want to briefly take stock and describe the transition planning. I have in front of me our first four annual reports -- I believe their titles describe the development of the ISSP quite well: First Steps, Creating a Network, Building on Strong Foundations and Towards a Graduate Program. Within five years, we went from an idea to a thriving network with six faculties that furnish the members of the management team, approximately 30 uOttawa professors affiliated, an additional 25 leading thinkers from across the country in fellowship positions or on our Advisory Committee, and an opt-in bilingual mailing list with approximately 1200 subscribers.
Our first graduate education program, the Collaborative Masters in Science, Society and Policy started in the fall 2015. My personal vision for the ISSP continues to be student-centered. A good education on science, society and policy requires breadth and an understanding of the healthy tension between those who look forward to a completely transformed world and those who study past and current processes with a critical eye on the pace and nature of scientific and technological developments. As a scientist and ethicist, I am very aware of this tension - and I am convinced that it's helpful for students to fully understand how these diverging positions are conceived and argued.
Research remains alive and well. The ISSP has so far played mostly the role of match-maker, facilitator and connective tissue to help scholars tie together our three areas of focus: (1) science for policy (for example, evidence-based decision-making), (2) policy for science (for example, science and innovation policy) and (3) technology governance (for example, regulation and ethics). There could be an opportunity for the ISSP to play a stronger role, but it's not easy to align dozens of scholars who are justly empowered with academic freedom. One successful approach to research has been the housing or support of ISSP Fellows. Senior Fellow Margaret McCuaig-Johnston is rapidly establishing herself as a leading scholar in science and innovation policy in China, Adjunct Professor Paul Dufour is much in demand nationally and internationally as a scholar and pundit on Canadian science history and policy, and Senior Fellow Richard Hawkins (University of Calgary) took the lead authorship of our Innovation Decalogue. Another successful approach was the collaboration with graduate students as our series of briefs on the Science Policy Interface and our Technology Timelines profess.
Our outreach activities are creative and maximize available resources. In order to secure and develop future resources, I initiated the creation of an ISSP Consortium in collaboration with my close colleagues Profs. Scott Findlay and Patrick Fafard. We were fortunate that the Dean of Social Sciences agreed to take the lead and that the Dean of Science also put his strong support behind this concept. Thank you, Dean Mérette and Dean Perry! The transfer of leadership from the Faculty of Arts to a Consortium led by the Faculty of Social Sciences means that the internal competition to select my successor will be led by the Social Sciences in collaboration with the Vice-President Research Office. I am looking forward to the vision of the next Director, as I will remain involved in teaching ISSP courses.