Susanne Moser | To Be of Use: Making Our Science Relevant to Policy and Practice in a Fast-Paced, Difficult World

Monday, February 21, 2022 - 2:45pm

Many students and scientists were motivated to go into science not just out of curiosity about the world, but because they wish to solve societal problems and make a difference in the world – for example on environmental issues, climate change, or societal responses to sustainability challenges. But how do we make sure science is even relevant to what decision-makers and policy-makers need? How do we do this in a world that seems to speed up from year to year? Can we stay relevant? Scientists’ interactions with decision-makers have gone through several revisions of the so-called “social contract of science with society”. These changes were the result, in part, of key shifts in science policy and science funding policy, and more fundamentally, the result of democratization, political-economic changes in educational systems, the neo-liberalization of the academy, rapid changes in technology, the economy, society and local and global environments. This presentation will briefly characterize prior stages in science-policy/practice interactions, and then explore how scientists and their research can become – and stay – relevant in the face-paced and often challenging world in which policies and decisions get made. The topic is not new, but the world in which science tries to be useful is ever more difficult to navigate. What are the implications of accelerating climate change, which is not only a uniquely challenging topic for (physical, natural and social science) research, but which is needed and yet faces unique challenges if it wishes to be “of use” in decision-making. The talk will propose possible pathways for the engaged science of the future, placing these possibilities into the contentious debate between “the accelerated academe” and “slow science.” In doing so, it raises questions and invites us into reflections about what it means to be a “scientist” in a fast, chaotic and increasingly difficult world, how to effectively engage with others, and how to find one’s place, i.e., shape a career, in engaged science.

Susanne C. Moser (Susanne Moser Research & Consulting, UMass-Amherst and Antioch University New England) will present in the
2022 Perspectives on the Climate Change Challenge Seminar Series:

  • Most Mondays, Spring Semester 2022, 2:45-4:00pm
  • Available via Zoom (ID: 953 9733 0144; Passcode: 024210)

This university-wide seminar series is open to the public, and provides important views on the critical issue of climate change, drawing from many perspectives and disciplines. Experts from Cornell University and beyond present an overview of the science of climate change and climate change models, the implications for agriculture, ecosystems, and food systems, and provide important economic, ethical, and policy insights on the issue. The seminar is being organized and sponsored by the Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering and the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability.