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Strategic Science in the Public Interest

Strategic Science in the Public Interest

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 224
  • Book Info
    Strategic Science in the Public Interest
    Book Description:

    G. Bruce Doern and Jeffrey S. Kinder examine four labs whose mandates deal with the Alberta oil sands, environmental technologies, wildlife research, and mining and metals, respectively. The authors use these cases to explain why a better middle-level approach to analysis is needed for strategic public interest-centred government science.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8482-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    Science and technology (S&T) in the government of Canada have long been important for the development of Canada, economically, socially, and politically. Organizations such as the Geological Survey of Canada (which predates Confederation), the Fisheries Research Board, and the Meteorological Service of Canada paved the way by exploring, inventorying, and monitoring Canada’s vast natural resources and physical environment. The government’s experimental farms and research stations were essential to the development of Canada’s agricultural economy and are direct forebears of the modern biotechnology industry. The National Research Council (NRC) was founded in 1916 and was the keystone of Canada’s crucial S&T...

  6. Part One: Historical Context and Analytical Framework

    • 1 Government S&T Labs and Agencies as Institutions: Towards Middle-Level Approaches
      (pp. 19-42)

      This chapter examines government S&T labs and agencies as institutions and broadly begins to make the case for the middle-level approaches employed in the book as a whole – approaches that will be set out in greater detail in chapter 2. The purpose of this chapter is to situate government S&T labs and agencies in this institutional debate, first in a comparative context and then by examining other studies of S&T labs and agencies in Canada and also in relation to a further analysis of the contrasting roles of R&D versus RSA in the functioning of S&T labs and related bodies....

    • 2 Analytical Approach
      (pp. 43-66)

      This chapter sets out our overall middle-level analytical approach for examining and understanding the four R&D-focused S&T labs as functioning institutions. It also links readers to the four illustrative RSA-focused agencies examined in chapter 7. In the approach to our five-part framework, we take two brief analytical steps to help us understand the potential full array of such institutions. We begin with a very basic hierarchical and quasi-principal–agent mapping of the S&T lab as lodged within the broader government hierarchy, but we also cascade down, across, and out to the possible clients and entities this lab links with. We...

  7. Part Two: Case Studies of R&D-Focused Labs and RSA-Focused Agencies

    • 3 The CANMET Mining and Mineral Sciences Laboratories and Canada’s Transformed Mining Sector
      (pp. 69-93)

      In the early twenty-first century, Canada’s mining and mineral sector has a series of characteristics that are important for gauging precisely where government science and a lab such as the federal Mining and Mineral Science Laboratories (MMSL) fit in. The sector in recent years has been subject to covetous interest on the part of new global economic powers such as China and India, whose appetite for mineral supplies is boundless. The sector is a crucial one for the economies of several provinces and for the dozens of hinterland-based one-industry towns that depend on their mines. In both these two initial...

    • 4 The CANMET Energy Technology Centre–Devon and the Alberta Oil Sands
      (pp. 94-116)

      The mining and mineral sector remains important to the Canadian economy and to many communities. The energy sector is even more central; in the early years of the twenty-first century, as in the past, it is vital to the everyday life of all Canadians. It also lies at the epicentre of the often contentious relations between the federal government and the energy-producing provinces, Alberta in particular. The geopolitics of oil and natural gas are also at an elevated state: both the United States and Canada see the vast Alberta oil sands as a source of future energy security. This awareness...

    • 5 The Environmental Technology Centre and Environmental Protection
      (pp. 117-139)

      We now turn to the first of the two Environment Canada labs, the Environmental Technology Centre (ETC). It functions within a large and evolving policy context dominated by two needs. First, by the growing need for effective environmental protection. Second, in the pursuit of this protection ethos, by the need to foster a prosperous Canadian environmental industry, one that is capable of competing with global firms in the growing environmental industry. These roles require both R& D and RSA activities, and an ethic that encompasses both commercialization and public goods S&T. The protection role requires federal S&T targeted at the...

    • 6 The National Wildlife Research Centre and Frontline Sustainable Development
      (pp. 140-165)

      The protection of the natural world is of great importance. Wildlife research and monitoring, with all its links to species at risk and to the need to preserve biodiversity, is quite literally a form of frontline science for sustainable development (SD). Sustainable development, as we have stated, is often seen as a policy and regulatory paradigm that emerged from the Brundtland Commission in the mid-1980s. But in fact it is rooted in much earlier concerns for conservation and habitat management practices of many kinds. In terms of government science, wildlife research is quintessentially public goods science.

      Though it has a...

    • 7 Related Science Activities in the Regulatory and Monitoring Process
      (pp. 166-186)

      Related science activities (RSA) are at the core of the federal government’s ability to regulate effectively and to practise other crucial monitoring activities in the public interest. This chapter builds on the discussion in chapters 1 and 2, in which we noted that RSA seems at times to be a residual category of government S&T, not ‘research’ and not ‘development’ but somehow still involving science. Moreover, the designation RSA means that the question is not automatically answered as to what it is and what it is related to. The implication is that it is related to R&D, but this underplays...

  8. 8 Conclusions
    (pp. 187-204)

    This book has examined strategic science in the public interest by analysing federal S&T labs and agencies. We have explored an array of contemporary federal S&T labs and agencies whose mandates encompass government science in support of a range of public-interest and public-policy and regulatory realms, including wildlife, the Alberta oil sands, environmental technologies, the mining and mineral sector, chemical substances, veterinary drugs, consumer and clinical radiation, and water quality and monitoring. These organizations are a small subset of overall federal government science. They are important to Canadians, but they also often function well below the radar of most Canadians...

  9. Appendix: Canadian and Comparative Science and Technology Data
    (pp. 205-210)
  10. References
    (pp. 211-226)
  11. Index
    (pp. 227-235)