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On-stage discussion: Science for governance, Governance for science

Led by: Prof. Ronald Holzhacker (University of Groningen, Netherlands)
We wish to address what scientists may expect from governance and policy, and what scientists can deliver in terms of input, solutions and innovation to governance and policy. This is mirrored with addressing what government institutions can be expected to deliver in creating the enabling environment for science and what they can do to improve their own knowledge-base and organization. The on-stage discussion can provide a platform to explore this and understand each other’s position and needs better.
What is relevant to this session is that science does more than provide technical solutions. We also study the political and societal processes concerning the causes, solutions and implementation of solutions for the problems we are addressing. That brings us to:
Science for Governance: from the perspective of political science, law, management and the social sciences, science has something to contribute to the improvement of the political and social institutions and contexts involved. The relationships that are thus created between science and policy have multiple characteristics. We are impartial observers but also participants in the process. The politicians and policymakers may be our objects of study but also our teammates and many times the people who endow us with these tasks and finance the inquiry into them. It is a complicated situation in which multiple actors have multiple roles and responsibilities (to science, to voters, to funders, to parliament, etc.)
Governance for Science: What adds to this complex situation is that funding for research and budget for policy approaches on solving societal problems come in large part from national governments and international organizations.  However, science has a role to play in this arena too; both in providing independent, objective and quality-based procedure through which to fund research projects (DIPI, NWO, ERC etc.), but also because we study and give advice on the optimal way in which to choose subjects, fund research and organize implementation.
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