28. June 2023

Postdoc Day 2023: When science meets politics Postdoc Day 2023: When science meets politics

Scientifically sound knowledge is of increasing importance in answering the big questions of our time. But how does the transfer of knowledge between science and politics work? At the Postdoc Day of the University of Bonn with the title "Creating Impact! Contributions, Challenges and Limits of Science in Policy Advice" central questions around the interaction of science and policy were discussed, for which there are many prominent examples at the University of Bonn. It took place on June 21 at the Universitätsclub Bonn.

Panelists during podium discussion
Panelists during podium discussion © Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn
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Sandra Speer (Head of the Transfer Center enaCom) pointed out in her welcoming speech that "the transfer towards politics or the cooperation with politics cannot only be thought about after the completion of a research work, but already at the beginning of the research design in order to increase the impact." In his introductory lecture, Dr. Stefan Brüggemann (Bonner Akademie für Forschung und Lehre praktischer Politik (BAPP) / Institut für wissenschaftliche Politikberatung) explained the influence of science on political discourse and showed the increasing relevance of policy advice using the example of the pandemic, during which more scientists than politicians had been guests on the talk shows.

Challenges for successful policy advice

In the subsequent discussion round, renowned scientists from the University of Bonn, who are active in the field of policy advice, provided practical insights. "Special attention should be paid to building trust, because scientific policy advice succeeds well above all in dialogue. A suitable visual presentation of the research results is also of central importance in order to make them accessible to decision-makers and the general public. We have had very good experiences with interactive data tools, for example to analyze and visually present the contents of the national climate plans for the Paris Climate Agreement (e.g. www.NDC-SDG.info)," emphasized Prof. Dr. Clara Brandi (Professor of International Economics/Development Economics and Program Director at the German Institute of Development and Sustainability). Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer (Junior Professor of International Relations and Global Technology Policy / Center for Advanced Security, Strategic and Integration Study - CASSIS) underlined the need to reduce the complexity of scientific content for successful policy advice, which he illustrated using the example of the Digital Dependency Index.

About distance and objectivity

Prof. Dr. Christiane Woopen (Director of the Center for Life Ethics and Hertz Professor in the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Individuals, Institutions and Societies") recommended that young scientists always maintain their independence. Scientific advice to policy makers is important, but the two systems of science and politics work very differently. In addition, she talked about her diverse experiences in national and international commissions. Her motivation for providing policy advice, she said, was to "contribute to the common good."

There was also a lively discussion about the issue of objectivity in policy advice. Prof. Dr. Matin Qaim (Director of the Center for Development Research and Schlegel Professor of Economic and Technological Change) stated: "Policy advice is rarely completely unbiased. The input of individual scholars is always part of a larger overall societal discourse. That's why interdisciplinary expert panels carry more weight in policy advice than individual scientists." In the end, the experts agreed that policy advice is a time-consuming but also very satisfying field in which one can become internationally active, especially in Bonn with its close relations to the UN.

The panel was moderated by Prof. Dr. David Kaldewey, Director of the Science Research Department at the Forum Internationale Wissenschaft, who in turn also takes a close look at scientific policy advice from his role as a researcher.

Joint exchange and networking

After the panel, the postdocs had the opportunity to get to know each other and to ask questions to the panelists in an informal setting. This was accompanied by a musical performance by the jazz band grammophon.

Advice for scientists

The Postdoc Day takes place annually under the patronage of the Prorectorate for Research and Young Scientists, Prof. Dr. Andreas Zimmer, on a current topic and is organized by the Human Resources Development team. This year's cooperation partner of the Postdoc Day, the Transfer Center enaCom, is the central contact point for scientists at the University of Bonn for questions regarding knowledge transfer. Policy advice also plays an increasing role. The enaCom Innovation Scouts help with collaborations from science with political, social and also industrial partner institutions or individuals. "The transfer of scientific knowledge to different political levels can take place via very different paths. We advise our colleagues from research on precisely these paths," says Sandra Speer, head of the Transfer Center enaCom.

More events on the topic of policy advice

In the coming fall, there will be a further series of lectures and a workshop with a high practical content on the topic of scientific policy advice. The dates will be announced soon.

To the website of the Postdoc Day 2023

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