4. Science in policy and public discourse

The ISC Action Plan 2019–2021 reiterated the importance of developing more effective science-policy interfaces, based on enhanced competencies within science and policy communities and informed by relationships of trust.


In the context of a global pandemic, this could not have been truer. As heads of state repeatedly appeared with chief scientific advisors and medical officers to address worried citizens on the rapidly developing and changing nature of the health emergency, science was thrust into the spotlight, becoming the focus of much hope for rapid solutions.

Short-term responses were urgently needed, but it quickly became clear that transformational solutions to create a ‘new normal’ based around fairness and sustainability would be essential over the longer term, and that this needed to be underpinned by communication to wider publics around the importance and need for science-led solutions.

The Public Value of Science project outlined in the Action Plan was split into several workstreams, framed around understanding scientific engagement, enabling scientific engagement and extending scientific engagement. The latter two workstreams are due to be fully launched in 2021.

The extending scientific engagement workstream draws on the partnerships the ISC is developing with media to engage different publics with the value of science. In 2020 these partnerships included Global Science TV, Science in the Newsroom Summit and the launch of ISC Presents podcasting series. A new partnership with BBC Storyworks commenced towards the end of 2020 and launched in 2021.

In this section:

Global Science TV

The pandemic provided an opportunity to partner with the Australian Academy of Science and experiment with taking their successful ‘verified science’ engagement model to a global audience.

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Science in the Newsroom Summit

The ISC was invited to partner with the World Association of News Publishers and its World Editors Forum as a programme advisor to their newsroom summit, Journalism in the Age of Pandemics.

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ISC Presents: Entering the world of the podcast

Always keen to expand its communication offer to ISC Members and the broader community, the Council experimented with podcasts for the first time in 2020.

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Physical distancing

International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA)

The emerging pandemic saw INGSA’s 2020 work programme take a strong pivot towards issues of crisis response, particularly in tracking the science advice mechanisms that played a role in evidence adoption by governments.

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Image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Next up: Global Science TV 


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