CSPC 2016 Themes

A New Culture of Policy Making and Evidence-based Decision-making: Horizons and Challenges

The Federal Government is implementing a new culture and style of policy making including strong commitments to Evidence-Based Decision-Making (EBDM). For example, in the Mandate letter of the Minister of Science there is a commitment for her to “support your Ministerial colleagues as they re-insert scientific considerations into the heart of our decision-making and investment choices.”

CSPC will continue to take a lead in a national conversation on this topic and build on the CSPC 2015 symposium. This theme will explore a variety of the key issues raised by the federal commitment to EBDM including the following:

  • How should EBDM be implemented in federal Departments and Agencies, and in Cabinet decision-making processes?
    • What kinds of training will public servants need in order to collect, analyze and structure evidence for decision-making?
    • What new skills and practices may be needed by non-governmental contributors to public policy?
  • How should different categories of evidence be assessed and weighed?
  • How could social science evidence and natural science evidence be linked together more effectively in decision-making?
  • What should be the role of science advisors in promoting EBDM?
  • How will promoting a Canadian science culture of diversity, transparency and openness improve decision-making?
    • Are there best practices from other countries?

A New Innovation Agenda for Canada: What Are We Building?

The Federal Government is committed to develop a new innovation agenda and redesign its programs that support innovation activity across Canada. “Through 2016, the Government will redesign and redefine how it supports innovation and growth, in partnership and coordination with the private sector, provinces, territories and municipalities, universities and colleges, and the not-for-profit sector.” The objective of this redesign is to define “a new vision for Canada’s economy: Canada as a centre of global innovation.” (Budget 2016)

As a result, this theme will explore the following questions:

  • What do we want a new Canadian innovation ecosystem to achieve?
  • What are the objectives and what should be the metrics to measure progress (economic, social, environmental)?
  • Should governments, universities, colleges, private sector, and NFPs have either new or expanded roles in this ecosystem?
  • How should the review of support programs for fundamental science link to the redesign of our innovation ecosystem?
  • How will we ensure that our redesigned innovation ecosystem will be globally competitive, and what can be learned from good practices internationally
  • How will the new innovation ecosystem manage disruptive technologies, and what will be the implications of these technologies for the future of work?

Science Funding Review: New Visions and New Directions

Budget 2016 announced that the Minister of Science will undertake a comprehensive review of all elements of federal support for fundamental science over the coming year: “In order to strengthen the granting councils and Canada’s research ecosystem, the review will:

  1. Assess opportunities to increase the impact of federal support on Canada’s research excellence and the benefits that flow from it;
  2. Examine the rationale for current targeting of granting councils’ funding and bring greater coherence to the diverse range of federal research and development priorities and funding instruments;
  3. Assess the support for promising emerging research leaders; and
  4. Ensure there is sufficient flexibility to respond to emerging research opportunities for Canada, including big science projects and other international collaborations.”

This review is timely. The nature of research and the associated federal support system has evolved significantly over the last 25 years. CSPC 2016 offers a unique opportunity for stakeholders to take an in depth look at how effectively our funding system deals with the opportunities and challenges of an increasingly sophisticated research ecosystem and provide advice on refinements going forward. The CSPC discussions on these issues will inform the federal review.

  • Funding Agencies and Programs: Policy Context, Stricture, Governance, Effectiveness
  • Principles and Practices of Peer Review
  • Optimizing and Assessing the Impact of Public Investment in Science
  • Investing in Opportunities and Priorities: Policy and Practice
  • Good practices from other nations, Reviews and Emerging Trends

Clean Energy and Climate Change as Global Priorities: Implications for Canada?

The Paris Agreement of December 2015 is the most ambitious climate deal to date, and has become the global focal point for action on climate change. Canada is among the nations who signed the agreement. However to meet the terms of the agreement through the transition to a cleaner, renewable energy future, in cooperation with national and international partners that cut across public, private, and civil society spheres presents challenges and opportunities. This poses important questions that the CSPC 2016 conference hope to bring various stakeholders to discuss it. The topics will include:

  • Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy: What role for science?
  • Competitiveness through the global transition to a low-carbon future: What opportunities for the climate resilient economy in Canada?
  • Clean energy and climate change as global priorities: Implications for Canada?
  • Doubling investments in clean energy R&D: What does it mean for Canada’s higher education and private sectors?
  • The science or sciences of climate change? Rethinking physical, natural and social disciplines in higher education to focus on the energy transition in a transdisciplinary manner.
  • The Canadian agenda for fostering innovation in clean energy: What issues and major concerns?
  • Collaboration between expert driven science and First Nations groups to take climate action: What successful approaches are developed?

Canada's Return to the International Stage: How Can Science Help Foreign Policy?

The Canadian government has announced a comeback to the international stage. Ideally, this will be accompanied by broadened roles and commitments. Given the growing importance of science and technology in international affairs, Canada can benefit enormously from its strong scientific institutions and its reputation as a middle power. Science diplomacy can play a strong role in Canada’s comeback to the international stage to secure a leading role, politically and economically, in global affairs.

CSPC will continue to lead the conversation on science diplomacy with the following topics:

  • What is the best use of science in diplomacy and trade, and what are the best ways to benefit from the synergies between science and diplomacy?
  • How science and innovation can be Canada’s international brand
  • What is Canada’s footprint in international collaboration on science and innovation projects, and what are the main gaps to bridge from a Canadian perspective?
  • How Canada can best use our strong science infrastructure in nation-building internationally
  • How can we best strengthen our innovation system through stronger and more efficient international engagement?


CSPC 2015 will feature an exciting array of interactive, solution oriented and future focused panels, including Green Paper Discussions, Case Studies, Lightning/TED-type Talks, Interactive Learning Session, Debate and At Issue Formats.

Format 1 – Green Paper Discussions

Discussion focuses on issues raised in papers available to participants in advance and catalyzed by the commentary of expert respondents.

  • Total time allocation – 90 min
  • Possible approach:
    • Chair/moderator to set context – 5 min
    • Green paper author(s) – 15 min (paper should be available to participants in advance)
    • Respondents – 3 @ 10 min each
    • Discussion – 30-45 min
    • Chair/moderator to lead discussion on next steps

Format 2 – Case Studies

A means of learning from diverse experiences relating to the theme issue – from Canadian and international sources.

  • Total time allocation – 90 min
  • Panellists – Chair/moderator plus max of 4 case studies
  • Max time for panellist presentations – 60 min; 30 to 60 min to be reserved for discussion

Format 3 – Lightning/TED-type Talks

A means of engaging up to 8 participants in presenting their perspectives on a specific issue within a theme in very brief highly focused presentations (with visuals).

  • Total time allocation – 45 or 90 min
  • Participants and role:
    • Chair/moderator to outline issue and approach (5 min)
    • 6 to 8 presenters (5 min each; strictly managed) (40 min)
    • Discussion – 30 min
    • Respondent/synthesis of issues – 10 min

Format 4 – Interactive Learning Session

An approach to engaging participants in a hands on learning/participatory activity – in any format. A bare minimum of formal presentation should be envisioned for such a format.

  • Total time allocation – 45 or 90 min
  • Participants and role:
    • Chair/moderator to outline issue and approach (5 min)
    • Interactive session – 35 – 80 min
    • Wrap up – 10 min

Format 5 – Debate Format

Expert panellists with different opinions get to engage in a debate to provide insights on a particular issue. The session will be heavily moderated by a Chair/moderator.

  • Total time allocation – 45 or 90 min
  • Panellists – Chair/moderator plus max of 4 presenters
  • Max time for panellist presentations – 30 or 60 min; 15-30 min to be reserved for discussion

Format 6 – At Issue Format

Expert panellists provide their independent opinion on series of issues in an interactive session framed by the Chair/moderator.

  • Total time allocation – 45 or 90 min
  • Panellists – Chair/moderator plus max of 4 presenters
  • Max time for panellist presentations – 4- 6 blocks of 10-15 minutes for each topic