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The Value of Evidence-based Assessments

Issue 10, October 2012

Welcome to the tenth issue of Council E-News, your source for updates on the Council's assessments, corporate activities, its Member Academies, and science in Canada.
President's Message


Elizabeth Dowdeswell, President and CEOSince the Council's inception in 2005, it has made great efforts to produce high-quality, expert assessments to contribute to
the development of public policy in Canada. Essentially, the Council's aim is to assemble and synthesize the evidence that informs discussion, be it about the state of science and technology in Canada, energy prices, ocean science, biodiversity resources, or food security in northern Canada. In this edition of E-news we focus on the assessment process, the people and the methodologies that are central to achieving high standards of excellence. Read more.

Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC), November 5-7, 2012, Calgary:


On November 6th, as part of the Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC), the Council will be hosting a panel session entitled Dissecting Canada's Science & Technology Landscape based on its newly released report The State of Science and Technology in Canada. This evidence-based report is one of the most in-depth examinations of Canadian S&T ever undertaken.  


The session will include a discussion about the Council's report and what the findings mean for Canada and specifically for Canada's research community. The Panel is comprised of Eliot Phillipson (Chair of the Council's Expert Panel), Lorainne Whale (Expert Panel Member), Peter MacKinnon (former President University of Saskatchewan) and will be moderated by Jeffrey Simpson (The Globe and Mail). The panelists will provide reflections and put forward ideas on what Canadian S&T policy must look like going forward to ensure Canada remains on the leading edge for innovation.  


The theme of the 2012 CSPC Conference is "Building Bridges for the Future of Science Policy." The conference will provide a unique opportunity for various science policy stakeholders to get together at the national level to network and discuss and provide insights for the present and the future of science policy in Canada. To learn more visit: 


Expert Panels at Work

On September 27, 2012, the Council publicly released its report, The State of Science and Technology in Canada, 2012. Overall, the Expert Panel found that Canada's Science and Technology enterprise is healthy, growing, internationally competitive, and highly respected. The report is one of the most in-depth examinations of Canadian S&T ever undertaken. It was also the second time the Council has conducted an assessment on the state of S&T. The first report was issued in 2006. Read more.
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Fellow in Focus


John Smol, FRSC    


In this issue of Council E-News, we speak with Dr. John Smol, Co-Director of the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory (PEARL) at Queen's University in Kingston. His long-time engagement with the Council has given him a unique perspective on the evolution of the Council, and the impact its evidence-based assessments have had on informing scientific policy in Canada.

Read more.


Spotlight On...

"How inappropriate to call this planet Earth, when clearly it is Ocean." - Arthur C. Clarke


Seventy per cent of our planet is covered by ocean, yet it remains largely unexplored and poorly understood. It's not easy to observe and collect data on such a large region, especially when it can be so inhospitable to us. With so much ocean to explore, and so many unanswered questions, it can be challenging for researchers and research funders to know where to invest limited time and resources. Read more. 


Knowing what others think of us can be instructive. Sometimes it's humbling or difficult to hear. But sometimes it tells us we've undervalued ourselves - a particularly Canadian trait. When it comes to science and technology, it turns out the world's leading scientists see Canada as a country of excellence and achievement, the fourth strongest globally according to new research conducted by an expert panel for the Council of Canadian Academies. Read more. 

Around the Council


Congratulations to: Council of Canadian Academies President Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Board of Governors member Margaret Bloodworth, and Hadi-Khan Mahabadi, member of the Expert Panel on the Socio-economic Impact of Innovation Investments, who have all been appointed to the Order of Canada; Kate Moran, member of the Core Group of Experts on Priority Research Questions for Canadian Ocean Science, who was appointed President and CEO of Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), for a five-year term commencing in July 2012. Read more.



News From the Academies

This section features news from the Council's Member Academies: the Royal Society of Canada; the Canadian Academy of Engineering; and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Read more.


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President's Message
Expert Panels at Work
Fellow in Focus
Spotlight On...
Around the Council
News from the Academies


Did you know?



When people think about non-renewable natural commodities they rely on, helium isn't usually at the top of that list. But the effects of dwindling reserves are beginning to be felt. While the colourless gas is most often associated with floating party balloons and high-pitched voices, helium has other several important applications. 

Read more


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