A New Guide to Science Advocacy

Scientists used to think that sharing the facts and evidence of an issue was enough to sway policy makers and the general public. Unfortunately, with many issues facing us today there are vested interests looking to derail civil discourse around topics like climate change and vaccines. Today Evidence for Democracy launched a toolkit for scientists to better advocate for evidence based policy decisions. The idea now is to provide scientists with guides on how to share facts and evidence so that the general public can benefit from their research and not be manipulated by lobbying campaigns and the like.

Whether you want to dip your toes into advocacy for the first time, or are looking to fine-tune your skills, this guide will help you expand your toolbox of advocacy strategies, and build and nurture relationships with decision-makers.

Fostering a better relationship between scientists and policy-makers is not just about enabling ground-breaking discoveries or strengthening the economy. It’s also about how science can serve the collective good — for a healthier, more prosperous, and just society.

Within the guide, you will also find firsthand experiences from parliamentarians reflecting on their experiences interacting with the science community. Personally, I’m still thinking about this quote:

“Conversations around science are frequently centered around funding. They are less often about how [the] government can make better evidence informed decisions using the research that is being produced by the stakeholders I meet with.” — Member of Parliament

Read more.

Evidence for Democracy: A Group Championing Fact-Based Policy

Evidence for Democracy is a new organization in Canada that wants government policy to based on reality. The federal Canadian Conservative government (which openly hates the environment) continually cuts finding to scientific research that can lead to a better understanding of the world around us. The constant cutbacks and denials of actual science pushed some scientists too far: now they are calling for the government to openly cite scientific research to back up their policy.

“I watched as the professors realized that they are the ones that have to stand up for science,” Dr. Gibbs said, “that they can’t expect someone else to make the case as to why it is important.”

At the behest of her colleagues, Dr. Gibbs helped organize the Death of Evidence protest in Ottawa, July 2012. Thousands of scientists and their supporters chanted, “No science, no evidence, no truth, no democracy,” as they carried a symbolic coffin to the steps of Parliament Hill.

“Government policies affect every aspect of our daily lives,” Dr. Gibbs said. “Using the available evidence assures that we get policies that actually do what they are supposed to do. It’s a better use of tax dollars than just picking what seems to be a good idea at the time.”

Read more at the Vancouver Observer.

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