Finding shared approaches to assess, enable and accelerate impact on society
Canada has been successful the last years in calling for more attention to the position of Canada worldwide in their research intensity and innovation. This has led to a variety of evaluations and strategies, most notably, the Fundamental Science Review , the Innovation and Skills agenda, and more recently the Superclusters initiative. Furthermore the three federal research councils, as well as the CFI and several provinces, have been aiming to evaluate funded projects on more than just academic impact. Finally the government has reintroduced the position of Chief Science Advisor in order to generate more evidence-informed policymaking. These prospects and initiatives share one common goal: setting realistic targets for assessing, enabling and advancing the societal impact of science.
The AESIS Network has successfully organised the annual conference ‘Impact of Science’ five times, bringing together experts such as R&D evaluators, university managers, research councils, policy makers, funders, and other stakeholders of impact. The goal is sharing, evaluating and discussing best practices around the world on:
- Policy strategies for societal impact
- Creating (long-term) alliances between stakeholders
- Regional, national and international instruments for evaluating and achieving impact
- Current issues on i.e. public engagement, evidence-based policy, interdisciplinary approaches and harmonising definitions and assumptions.
In its approaches the AESIS Network is convinced that societal impact:
- can only be robust based on a well-balanced insight on how the impact of science on society can be measured;
- should investigate the impact of the humanities, the social sciences and the hard sciences in one comparable approach for accountability;
- should include both the societal impact of scientific research and university education.
The political momentum and current research eco-system in Canada are an excellent and indeed inspirational context to foster the worldwide debates on impact. At the same time, several international perspectives can offer valuable and critical evaluations to the current progress and obstacles in Canada. Thus, the AESIS Network and its partners are excited to organise the ’Impact of Science 2018’ conference in Ottawa.