IoP workshop videos

Videos of the ‘Introduction to Science Policy Workshop’ held at the Institute of Physics in November 2011 are now available on YouTube:

Part 1

Part 2

Newton’s Apple developed these workshops because, although there are numerous training programmes offered to scientists and engineers in the areas of science media and public engagement, there are no equivalent opportunities for them to receive a similar high standard of information on the policy processes and the use of science in policy.

 

Durham University workshop

On July 4th, Newton’s Apple returned to Durham University to give an Introduction to Science Policy workshop. Speakers on the programme included:

Dr Michael Elves (Chairman, Newton’s Apple, formerly Director of Scientific and Educational Affairs, Glaxo Wellcome and former Special Adviser to the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee.)

Mr Andrew Miller, (Formerly MP and Chairman of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee and the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee)

Dr Claudia Lally, (Head of Resilience, Government Office for Science.)

Dr Stephen Benn, (Director of Parliamentary Affairs, Society of Biology)

Dr Ian Gibson (former MP and Chair the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee.)

Participant comments:

“Thanks for giving us this chance to meet all these great people.”

 “Case studies were particularly interesting. Good explanation of the different roles scientists have in influencing policy.”

“More on this theme please!  Sad to hear that this is a one-off event.”

 “A very interesting, informative and enjoyable workshop.”

“The range of speakers was integral to getting a well rounded and in-depth view of contributions to policy making.”

“It would have been nice to include comments from the local MP.”

“Really enjoyed it and excited to get involved now.”

Reflections on the Sheffield University Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures Workshop in Westminster

We held an “Introduction to Science Policy” workshop in Westminster on the 26th April 2017 for scholars from Sheffield’s Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures. This workshop was our first event in collaboration with Parliament’s outreach Service (Parliament UK). The objective of the workshop was to give the participating researchers some understanding of the policy-making processes in Government and Parliament and of how to influence policy.

The Speakers

Ms Naomi Saint (Universities Programme Manager for Parliament’s Outreach Service), gave an introduction to the UK Parliament and explained its structure and the roles of MPs and the Members of the House of Lords.  She explained the various functions of Parliament ranging from Law making, and scrutinising Government, to being the highest Court in the land. Her presentation included an interactive quiz, which tested the audience’s knowledge of Parliament.

Mr Paul Blomfield MP (MP for Sheffield Central) gave a more detailed account of the work of Members of Parliament. This included the stages involved in the creation of new legislation or regulation and the scrutiny of Government policy. As a representative of a large student population, with previous experience of working at the University of Sheffield, Paul was able to explain his work in a manner relevant for the audience. He stressed that MP’s need specialist information and expert opinions from outside Parliament when considering matters on the Parliamentary agenda. He encouraged participants to get to know their local MP and to offer specialist help when matters within their areas of interest are being debated in Parliament.

Mr Andrew Miller (former MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, and a former Chairman of both the House of Commons Science & Technology Select Committee and the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee) gave an account of the role of Select Committees, focusing on the Science and Technology Select Committee. He outlined the Committee’s remit which includes the scrutiny of potential new Government policies and also exploring areas impacting on the science base where new, or altered, legislation is needed. The committee also examines the workings of the Research Councils, new incumbents in public sector roles, and investigates the impact of major science-based company mergers on the UK’s research capacity.

Andrew emphasised the importance of inquiry evidence provided by individuals and groups within the STEM community.

Dr Marsha Quallo-Wright (Head of Corporate Services, Government Office for Science) explained the work of the Government Departments and the Civil Service in the creation and implementation of policy. She explained how the Government obtains and uses scientific advice in the formulation of policies. She emphasised the work of the Government Office for Science and the advice it gives to the Prime Minister in, for example, the event of international disasters and their potential impact on the UK. She also mentioned the importance of having scientists, engineers and technologists in Government departments.

Dr Stephen Benn (Director of Parliamentary Affairs, the Royal Society of Biology) described the role and activities of the Scientific Learned Societies in responding to Governmental and Parliamentary inquiries and their calls for evidence. He talked about the interaction of these bodies with politicians in the provision of specialist advice. He stressed the important role that the STEM community and its professional bodies should have in these processes. He also mentioned the activities that are being organised by the Learned Societies in Westminster during STEM week.

The case study

The formal part of the workshop concluded with a case study to illustrate how the STEM community can provide advice during policy processes and how such advice may influence outcomes.

Dr Michael Elves (Chairman of Newton’s Apple and a former Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee) discussed the Select Committee’s examination of the problem of Light Pollution and its adverse impact upon Astronomy. This Inquiry stressed the lack of government actions to limit the effect of light pollution or give effective guidance for planning authorities in this matter. The Committee was aided in its deliberations by evidence provided by both academic and amateur astronomers and ‘Dark Skies’ campaign groups. An outcome of the Inquiry was not only an increased awareness of the issue but also improved regulatory measures and new legislation making some forms of light pollution a Statutory Nuisance.  This case study also highlighted the length of time it that it can take for scientific advice to influence new legislation.

In addition to questions to the individual speakers after their presentations, there was also a general discussion at the end of the formal presentations which ranged over a number of areas and there was good participation by members of the audience.

We were pleased to welcome Dr Jonny Wentworth from POST who joined us for this workshop.

Some conclusions from Michael W. Elves, Chairman of Newton’s Apple

From the feedback obtained from the participants in this workshop, and particularly from the comments provided, it is clear that the participants found the event informative, useful and enjoyable.  

When Newton’s Apple was established the intention was to help younger members of the STEM community (research students and early career academics) to understand the processes by which policy and legislation are made, and how these can be influenced and improved by good advice. It is encouraging therefore that the majority of the participants in this workshop said that their understanding of these processes had been improved as a result of the workshop. The motivation for many of the students attending this workshop was a desire to understand how they can influence policy.

Participant comments

“The Newton’s Apple Books are informative and useful.”

“I enjoyed the case study showing an example of how science contribution and Select Committee work had an impact for astronomy and light pollution.”

“I really enjoyed the case study by Dr Elves as it shows a real example of where science changed policy. Hope for the future!”

“If we as scientists don’t provide evidence we cannot expect policy to be based on it.”

“I liked the talk by Paul Blomfield as this was my first interaction with an MP.”

“It was useful to have real-life examples to bring the processes and institutions to life.”

 

Celebrating our 10th birthday

This year, we’re celebrating a decade of Newton’s Apple bridging the gap between science and society. The landscapes of both the science and policy arenas are continually shifting, and we must work hard to keep up. We’ve been pushing hard to satisfy the demand for our workshops. Despite having reached over 1600 early career researchers with our “Introduction to Science Policy” workshops, we now find there is continuing demand for more advanced workshops. To meet this demand, we plan to bring scientists and policy makers together to explore specific topics of societal importance, such as food production, energy provision and data security. We hope that the advanced programme will be run in collaboration with Learned Societies, who could nominate topics, and have future research leaders as participants. We also intend to embark on a new project to develop a better understanding of science and the Scientific Method among policy makers.

 

Dr Michael W Elves, Newton’s Apple Chairman

 

 

 

 

Dr Ian Gibson, Honorary President of Newton’s Apple 

Chairman’s Annual Report, 2015

As Newton’s Apple works toward to some new and exciting projects, we look back on 2014-15 in the Chairman’s annual report. The report includes a number of acknowledgements to those who have shaped the successes of the past year.

Acknowledgements from Dr Michael Elves, Chairman of Newton’s Apple: 

It is only through the support and active contributions of a number of people that our Foundation has been able to enjoy success with it’s activities. I am personally grateful for all the support and encouragement from other members of the Board of Trustees, and in particular to John Masters our Treasurer, to Dr Gillian Pepper for her work on the website, and to Andrew Miller MP, Julian Huppert MP, Stephen Metcalf MP, who have contributed to the workshops by providing meeting rooms in Westminster and being the “Science in Parliament” speakers at these workshops.  I am also pleased to acknowledge the great support from Monica Darnbrough, Ian Gibson, Brian Iddon and Stephen Benn for their fairly regular contributions as speakers in our workshops.

It is also a pleasure to acknowledge the contributions to the workshops of Elizabeth Sturkovic, Chris Fleming, Chris Darby, Jon Elliot, and Andrew Greenway all of the Government Office for Science, Amanda Dickins of BIS, Alan Malcolm of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, Andrew Crudgington of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Alex Connor of the Institute of Physics and Sarah Main, Director of CASE.  Without their support and contributions Newton’s Apple could not be the success it is.”

Read the 2015 annual report.

Westminster workshop 26th February 2015

AN INTRODUCTION TO SCIENCE POLICY

House of Commons, Palace of Westminster, 

Committee Room 07

13.30 – 17.00 

26th February 2015

  • Have you ever wondered if, and how, scientists and their research can influence government science policy?
  • How can scientists help prevent budget cuts, increase funding and improve the public standing of science?
  • Would you like to contribute to the decisions that shape science and society in the future?

This ‘Introduction to Science Policy’ workshop will give you the chance to find out more about the policy processes and the methods by which you can contribute to them.  You will also have the opportunity to put your questions to the people who work regularly on science policy issues.

The Workshop is suitable for postgraduate and PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and those whose work role would benefit by a knowledge of the science-into-policy processes.

Workshop structure:

  • An introduction to science policy – Presentation by Dr Michael Elves, Chairman, Newton’s Apple.
  • The guest panellists will provide information from their own unique perspective on ways in which scientists can communicate more effectively with policy makers.
  • Stephen Metcalfe MP, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock,. Member of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee
  • Dr Monica Darnborough, Formerly Director of Biotechnology, Department of Trade and Industry, and a former civil servant in the Cabinet Office
  • Dr Stephen Benn, Director of Parliamentary Affairs, Society of Biology
  • Discussion – Participants will have a chance to put their questions to the panellists on science policy issues and how the science-into-policy process can be improved.

To book places on the workshop download an application form and return via email to michael.elves@btinternet.com.

NOTE; There are a limited number of places available, so reserve your place early!