Science-Policy Training


The science-policy engagement training module is a joint activity between the IASS and the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Project (IGAC). The developed module concept was informed by science-policy experts during a workshop from 29 Feb-1 Mar 2016.

A paper has been published on the elements needed to foster greater preparation of scientists to engage in the science-policy system.


The complexity of addressing global change and sustainability is multifaceted and requires a science-policy paradigm that runs through the entire system of policy-making from the funding of basic scientific research through enforcement and improvement of regulations. Scientists are increasingly being asked or required to participate the science-policy system. In particular, they are being asked to participate in a new non-linear model of communication with stakeholders and policy makers that result in the co-development of problem solving. Despite this demand on the scientific community, this type of engagement is typically not taught and scientists often do not understand that many corridors exist for engagement. However, methodologies and best practices based on experience of such engagement do exist.

The proposed activity aims to fill this void by developing a concept for and holding a series of regional training modules for early career scientists to provide resources, methodologies and shared experiences on how to engage in the science-policy system via multiple engagement opportunities. While a variety of science-policy training initiatives exist, many of these address a broad spectrum of scientists, are more about teaching scientist about the policy process, or require a significant amount of time commitment (e.g., AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowships, AMS Colloquium, DISCCRS). The proposed training module aims to fill a gap and provide more targeted training over a short period of time on how to engage in the policy process. The training module will be focused on the atmospheric sciences, although much of the content could be transferrable and provide a template for other international science organization, e.g. Future Earth, to follow for teaching scientists how to engage in the science-policy system. The goal of these Science-Policy Training Modules is to create a foundation of knowledge and possibilities for engagement in the science-policy system with a focus on the particularly policy-relevant atmospheric science domain.

Training module:

Early-career scientists participating in exercises during the Science Communication & Science-Policy Engagement module during the 2016 IGAC Conference Short Course (top left) practicing their elevator speech (right) and working on their message box (bottom left).

The initial training module was piloted at the 2016 IGAC Conference (September) and was then revised and carried out at further conferences or in targeted trainings in 2017/2018. The training module:

- Describes the science-policy landscape;

- Identifies the multiple corridors for science-policy engagement;

- Trains how to engage in the science-policy system via different opportunities; and

- Creates relationships between the science and policy communities to promote interactions moving forward.

The training module achieved the fore mentioned by having speakers and educators share their methodologies and experiences for engaging in the science-policy system. Speakers and educators, depending on the format and length of the module, will provide time for practical, hands on projects to help develop the skill set required to engage in the science-policy system.

Following the initial pilot of the training module, the goal is to expand the training modules beyond the US and Europe in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The training modules will be regionally focused, with content reflecting the context of each region.

Science-Policy Engagement Case-Studies

To support the science-policy training program, case studies of successful science-policy engagement will be documented. This involves different steps, such as a literature review as well as interviews to capture different aspects of successful policy-science engagement. The goal is to be able to provide concrete examples of engagement that describe successful methodologies for cooperation and communication, while simultaneously providing a high level of detail as to the barriers, relationships, and communication spaces that allowed for success. These studies will range from local to regional examples, from city-scale to national or e.g., EU level, to more international examples of engagement that occur within diverse international frameworks.

Additional Resources for Training Module Participants:

K. Jacobs (2002) Connecting Science, Policy, and Decision-making: A Handbook for Researchers and Science Agencies.

This guide provides a nice, concise overview of some of the key considerations and important context that are crucial to consider when engaging in any kind of science-policy.

C. Tyler (2013) Top 20 things scientists need to know about policy-making. & O. Milman (2013) Top 20 things politicians need to know about science.

Nice paired perspectives providing short, to the point highlights as to what is important for scientists and politicians to consider before engaging in science-policy.

P. Gluckman (2014) The art of science advice to the government

New Zealand’s chief science adviser offers his ten principles for building trust, influence, engagement and independence.

R. Pielke Jr. (2008) The Honest Broker

This concise book provides a great overview of the different roles for science in policy-making. It also provides definitions for science, policy, politics, and illustrations with examples.

Neal, Smith, McCormick (2008) Beyond Sputnik 

This book is lengthy, but the beginning gives a great introduction into science, policy, and the history of science policy related developments, focused on the USA.

The European Geophysical Union (EGU) also has a list of online resources compiled relevant to science communication and science-policy engagement, as does the American Association for the Advancement of Science, although these are more science communication focused.

Science Council of Japan (2013) Code of Conduct for Scientists

As summarized by Gluckman (2014), “the science adviser must know how to reach out to scientists for the appropriate expertise, and help them to enact their social responsibility in making their knowledge accessible and understandable, and in being more self-aware about when they might be acting as advocates. These issues are encapsulated in the recently updated, groundbreaking Code of Conduct for Scientists, which directly implies a distinction between brokerage and advocacy.”

All European Academies: The European Code of Conduct for Research integrity.