A2: Crossing the Abyss: The Value of Working at the Science-Policy Interface

It is essential that scientific knowledge is effectively communicated to policymakers at all governmental levels to ensure that new policies are based on fact and effectively address environmental issues. This on-going need provides many opportunities for scientists to undertake important and challenging work at the science-policy interface. However, in academe, faculty may not be sure how to get involved in policy work or worry that such activities will not be valued by departments or campus tenure and promotion committees. Scientists sometimes fear that, by stepping into this realm, colleagues may question the objectivity of their research. This session will feature accounts from faculty from different types of institutions describing how and why they got involved in policy work, the type of work they do, and their perspectives on the value and impact of such work as it relates to the importance of science-based policy development and to their institutional missions. Examples to be shared include work with various sectors under the United Nations and the World Bank, state and local government policy initiatives, and international research supporting regional policies in other countries. Since NSCE aims to increase its reach internationally, several panelists will discuss their international policy/engagement work. They will also provide insights on how those experiences can be connected back to work in their local communities, how they relate to teaching, scholarship and service responsibilities of faculty members, and how our institutions can contribute and value our involvement. After short descriptions in each of these areas, an open discussion will focus on how all NCSE members can more effectively be involved at the science-policy interface.

The panelists are from a diverse array of institutions and bring years of experience of work at the international and regional levels and can relay lessons learned to those interested in getting involved in such work.

Moderator:

Diane W. Husic, Dean, School of Natural and Health Sciences and Professor of Biology
Moravian College (PA). Relevant experience includes serving on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Research and Independent NGOs steering committee and Technology Executive Committee Task Force on Adaptation (south-south and triangular cooperation), work on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and serving on the PA climate adaption committee.

Panelists:

1.Deborah Rigling Gallagher, Associate Dean for Professional Studies and Chair, Business and Environment Program, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University (NC). Relevant experience includes years of work with UN Global Compact at the social science-policy interface and applied research related to issues as diverse as biodiversity management, engagement in climate policy development, internal price for carbon and lately planetary health (at the intersection of SDG3 and SDG 13).

2.Dork Sahagian, Professor, Earth & Environmental Sciences and Environmental Initiative, Lehigh University (PA). Relevant experience includes municipal Climate Action Plan development, municipal energy production policy, and author and reviewer for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

3.Jennie C. Stephens, Director, School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs, Dean’s Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy, and Director for Strategic Research Collaborations, Global Resilience Institute, Northeastern University (MA). Relevant experience includes work with the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs steering committee focusing on decarbonization to achieve its 80% reduction by 2050 goals.

4.James S. Gruber, Director, Doctoral Program in Environmental Studies, Environmental Studies Department, Antioch University New England (NH). Relevant experience: Member IUCN, Council for Economic, Environmental, and Social Policy, participant at the United Nations Environment Assembly - 4 (UNEA-4) under the NCSE North America major science group, work on regional policy change initiatives (NOAA funded) in NH and MN and international work in Ecuador in support of a major wetlands policy in the southern Andes.

5.David Fuente, School of Earth, Ocean & Environment, University of South Carolina (SC). Relevant experience: Advised multi- and unilateral aid agencies (e.g., World Bank, Millenium Challenge Corporation, USAID) and governments (e.g., Egypt and Kenya) on water pricing and subsidy reform and served as a facilitator at the UN-World Bank High Level water sector minister's meetings. Areas of expertise include water pricing, subsidy design for water and sanitation services, benefit-cost analysis

6.Robert Franco, Director, Office for Institutional Effectiveness, Kapi‘olani Community College (HI) and Chair of the Community College Network of NCSE. Relevant experience: traditional Hawaiian water management systems, socio-cultural factors affecting fisheries sustainability in Polynesia and Micronesia, connecting indigenous and western knowledge systems for biocultural restoration, moving biocultural restoration into the curriculum, and developing the campus-community partnerships that sustain these alliances.

Presenters

  • Diane Husic, Ph.D., Dean, School of Natural and Health Sciences, Moravian College
  • Deborah Gallagher, AssociateDean for Professional Studies and Chair, Business and Environment Program, Nicholas School, Duke University
  • James Gruber, Director, Doctoral Program in Environmental Studies, Environmental Studies Department, Antioch University New England
  • David Fuente, Assistant Professor, School of Earth, Ocean & Environment, University of South Carolina
  • Robert Franco, Director, Office for Institutional Effectiveness and Chair of the Community College Network of NCSE, Kapi‘olani Community College
  • Jennie Stephens, Director, School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs, Northeastern University
  • Dork Sahagian, Professor, Earth & Environmental Sciences and Environmental Initiative, Lehigh University