Science policy

Open Letter asking the Canadian academic STEM community to improve gender balance in speaker line-ups

  To my tenured, and tenure-track colleagues in the STEM subjects in Canada, and also to administrators in organizational units that control budgets providing funding for  STEM speakers, and conferences. Re: The need, across Canada, for targeted policy on achieving gender balance in STEM conference plenary and prestigious lecture speakers, that is widely adopted at all academic scales: from individuals to institutions I'm a Full […]

Why academics should regularly attend conferences where we don't present our work. Pt 1

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics), one always presents new research at every conference one attends. (Or at the very least, one must be a co-author on a talk or poster). Growing up as an ecological researcher, I've observed that there are two main reason for this ALWAYS […]

Prof. Marc Spooner's next course should be "Best practices in conference organizing"

I fell behind with my blogs at the end of June, when my back pain flared up. I'd probably gone a bit overboard with driving and sitting/standing, and I spent Canada Day flat on my back, groaning. I'm again doing well with moving around and having the energy to stand and work. so I'm dealing with my 2 missing July posts, by (1) updating the […]

My first MOOC: UQx's Denial101x Making Sense of Climate Science Denial

Update August 4, 2015: Unfortunately, my lower back & hip injury, has taken up ridiculous amounts of my life, and limited me to a max of 7 hours a day work, standing up, since late April. I was very sad that this meant I simply couldn't complete this very worthwhile, beautifully organized MOOC. I watched the first […]

Jim Woodgett discusses the Challenges of Science Communication

Yesterday, Monday 2 March, Dr. Jim Woodgett, research director of Mount Sinai's Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, spoke about the issues and challenges faced by scientists, when it comes to doing effective communication of science in the public understanding of science realm. If you’re a Canadian scientist on Twitter you will know him as @JWoodgett, and may […]

Confronting Structural Sexism in #STEM: Pt 3

Given the sexual harassment of female students that I directly witnessed when I was a student doing field work, I've been infuriated by the Jian Ghomeshi debacle with its victim blaming. Although the sexual harassment that I personally witnessed happened 30 years ago, it, too, still makes me cross. So, Clancy et al's 2014 PLOS ONE paper on what appears […]

Confronting Structural Sexism in #STEM: Pt 1

Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Medicine) have made progress, but not as much as expected, as Dr. Mildred Dresshelhaus explains in her interview with Science. Direct sexual harassment aside (discussed in part 3 of this blog series), the structural sexism of #STEM has greatly concerned me for decades, and, I am unhappy to report, […]

On recognizing the intrinsic multi-dimensional nature of Research & Teaching

Academic policy makers, administrators and many academics simply don't seem to get how to deal with the multi-variate nature of higher education. Despite having access to the tools and statistics to take account of all this, it is generally ignored. In my opinion, the recent attempts by HEQCO , the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, provide […]

Leadership & management lessons learned directing IRIS: Part 2

In 2006, when I took over as director of York University's Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS), I was very concerned with how to improve my skill set for effective leadership and management. In many ways, my experience as a sustainability researcher from 2006-14 was as much about observing and learning from other […]

Updated Evidence-Based Policy in Canada Blog

I've been learning (and writing) about the science-policy-politics nexus since I took on the directorship of IRIS (York's Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability) in 2006. Colleagues such as York's Steacie Science Librarian, John Dupuis have done important work, documenting the Harper government's cuts to research in general and organizing the Death of Evidence Funeral […]