March 21, 2013
1:00 pmto2:30 pm

Terrestrial Research on Ecosystems & World-wide Education & Broadcast || An Innovative Graduate Training Program

Seminar: Kai Chan and Gerald Singh

March 13, 2013

March 21, 2013
1:00 pmto2:30 pm

Push, Prod or Abstain from the Fray: Science Engagement and the many Shades of Grey


Thursday Mar. 21st, 1:00 – 2:30 pm

Forest Sciences Centre 1221

Everyone welcome!

If you cannot make it in person, you can access the live webinar link here. Please log in 5 minutes early.


Abstract: Scientists are increasingly called upon to engage in policy, but the literature on engagement is strong on speculation and weak on evidence. Using a survey administered at several broadly ‘ecological’ conferences, we investigate (1) the extent to which respondents engage (including reporting scientific results, interpreting science for policy, integrating science into policy, taking a position on policy, and acting as a decision maker); (2) what factors best explain these types of engagement; and (3) whether respondents’ activity levels match their stated beliefs on types of engagement. Different factors explain different forms of engagement. Institutional culture and exposure to public scrutiny were identified as barriers to engagement, while self-perceived competence in engagement was consistently important in explaining activity across all engagement types, highlighting the importance of training programs in engagement. Many respondents believed that scientists should interpret, integrate and advocate, which contrasts with relatively low levels of self-reported engagement in policy.



Kai Chan – Kai is a Canada Research Chair (tier 2) and associate professor in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. He does modeling and empirical research to improve the management and governance of social-ecological systems, to foster justice in decision-making. He has special interest in ecosystem services, including cumulative impacts and risks to ecosystem services; the ecological and evolutionary underpinnings of invasions and infestations; applied environmental ethics; ecosystem-based management; social-ecological systems and resilience; and connecting these ecosystem-oriented efforts to environmental assessment.

Kai leads CHAN’S lab (www.chanslab.ires.ubc.ca), Connecting Human and Natural Systems; he is a director on the board of the BC chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), a Leopold Leadership Fellow (2013), a member of the Global Young Academy, and a senior fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program. In 2012, Kai was the Fulbright Canada Visiting Research Chair at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


Gerald Singh – Gerald is a scientist, former politician, wedding officiant, club organizer, powerlifter, philanthropist, and European swordsmanship instructor. He is also a PhD student in the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. He has researched agro-ecology, pollination, ecological effects of sea otter reintroduction, coastal archeology, and various aspects of marine conservation including ocean acidification and cumulative impacts and risks to coastal systems and ecosystem services. He is also interested in the science-policy interface and how to best use expert knowledge in conservation.


Recommended Readings:

Scott et al. 2010. Refocusing the Debate about Advocacy. Conservation Biology 25: 1-3.

Steel et al. 2004. The role of scientists in the environmental policy process: a case study from the American west. Environmental Science and Policy 7: 1-13.


*For the Spring 2013 Seminar Series Schedule, go here.

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