I will admit that the headline was thoroughly and completely “click bait”. That’s because I was worried that “The new ESC Science Policy Committee and its mandate” would have you move along to the next article. And I hope that giving you the goods now on what this article is about doesn’t cause that right… now.
For those of you who are still with me, and I hope that is a majority of our members, I am aware that policy is not generally considered an exciting topic. But in this era of climate change, environmental degradation, increasing population pressure on our agricultural and silvicultural output, emergent and spreading vector-borne diseases, research funding challenges, and rapidly shifting politics in Canada and many of our largest trading partners, we as entomologists cannot merely sit back and let policy happen. We need to engage with policy makers to encourage careful decision making with the long view in mind.
Our diverse Society membership has an equally diverse set of skills and perspectives to offer to Canadians and the rest of the world. But engagement can only happen if we are willing to put fingers on the pulse of various issues, and to collaboratively marshal responses to issues as they begin to emerge. In other words, we can only be effective if we are able to anticipate in time and react with collective care and wisdom.
Over the past many years, the ESC has maintained a Science Policy and Education Committee. That committee has been effective in many areas including over the past several years:
- expressing concern to the federal government about travel restrictions on federal scientists wishing to attend ESC meetings,
- encouraging the continued support of the Experimental Lakes Area,
- responding to NSERC consultations, and
- drafting the ESC Policy Statement on Biodiversity Access and Benefit Sharing which was later adopted by our Society.
However, because the combination of both public education and public policy was a substantial and growing mandate, the ESC Executive Council Committee decided in 2015 to split the committee into two, each part taking care of one of the two former aspects.
In October 2016 I was asked to chair and help to formulate the new ESC Science Policy Committee. Your committee now consists of (in alphabetical order):
- Patrice Bouchard (ESC First VP, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)
- Crystal Ernst (appointed member, postdoctoral fellow at Simon Fraser University)
- Neil Holliday, (ESC President, ex officio committee member, University of Manitoba)
- Dezene Huber (appointed member as academic representative, Chair 2016/2017, University of Northern British Columbia)
- Fiona Hunter (ESC Second VP, Brock University)
- Rachel Rix (appointed member and student and early professional representative, Dalhousie University)
- Amanda Roe (appointed member as government representative, Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service)
Each executive member’s term is specified by their ESC executive term. Each appointed member is a member for up to 3 years. The Chair position is appointed on a yearly basis. The terms of reference specify that the committee should contain members “who (represent) the Student (and Early Professional) Affairs Committee, and preferably one professional entomologist employed in government service and one employed in academia.”
We are officially tasked “(t)o monitor government, industry and NGO science policies, to advise the Society when the science of entomology and our Members are affected, and to undertake tasks assigned by the Board that are designed to interpret, guide, or shift science policy.”
We are now working on putting together an agenda, and have started to work on a few items. For instance, you may recall an eBlast requesting participation in Canada’s Fundamental Science Review that was initiated by Hon. Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science. We hope that some of you took the opportunity to send your thoughts to the federal government.
As we develop an agenda, we would like to consult with you, the ESC membership. Please tell us:
- What policy-related issues do you see emerging in your area of study, your realm of employment, or in the place that you live?
- How might the ESC Science Policy Committee integrate better with your concerns and those of the rest of the membership?
- How can our Society be more consultative and responsive to the membership and to issues as they arise?
- Who are the people and organizations with which ESC should be working closely on science policy issues?
- How can you be a part of science policy development, particularly as it relates to entomological practice and service in Canada and abroad?
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, questions, and ideas. We know that many of you are already involved in this type of work, and we hope that we can act as synergists to your efforts and that you can help to further energize ours.
Dr. Dezene Huber
Chair, ESC Science Policy Committee
This article also appears in the March 2017 ESC Bulletin, Vol 48(1).