Canadian Science Policy Conference, Toronto, 2013

Science is not always field work, and being in the lab. Some of the work that researchers do is discussing policy, and through these discussions, help shape policy and thus the future of research. So, it is in this role that I attended the Canadian Science Policy Conference this week in Toronto (http://www.cspc2013.ca/). The purpose of the meeting is to bring people together to discuss trends, ideas and the challenges in science policy.

My role in the conference was to represent APECS (the Association of Polar Early Career Researchers) and as a graduate student at Carleton University in a panel discussing northern graduate programs in the north (http://www.cspc2013.ca/p20-canada-able-meet-its-needs-research-and-innovation-northern-issues-given-it-does-not-have). More specifically, “Is Canada able to meet its needs for research and innovation on northern issues, given that it does not have graduate programs situated in the three Canadian territories?”

CPSC panelWe had an amazing group with representatives from APECS, ACUNS (Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Science), ArcticNet, the Yukon government, the Northwest Territories Government, Yukon College, and the Nunavut Arctic College.

CSPCTo prepare for the panel I surveyed APECS Canada members and posed the question that the panel was discussing “Is Canada able to meet its needs for research and innovation on northern issues, given that it does not have graduate programs situated in the three Canadian territories?” I think that the results from the survey mirror what the panel discussions, it’s complicated.

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Opinions of the panel were varied. The development of graduate programs in the north are definitely a priority for many. Others views graduate programs at northern institutions as putting the cart before the horse, as high school graduation in many areas is still a large concern.

So, where to go from now……. I think that the take home message from the panel is that the traditional academic system is not going to work in the north. Just like most things we need some creative and innovative education policies to help move this conversation forward.

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