Bright spots at the interface of environmental science, policy and practice: the case (and need) for optimism

Effectively translating scientific knowledge into policy and practice is essential for helping humanity navigate contemporary environmental challenges. Accordingly, the past two decades have seen calls for scientists to find new ways of engaging more effectively with decision-makers, as well as demonstrate the tangible and real world impacts arising from their research.  Achieving demonstrable impacts on policy and practice, however, is not easy, leading to the widespread adoption and institutionalisation of the mantra ‘science-policy gap’, which now dominates much of the discourse in this space.

In this seminar, Dr Chris Cvitanovic will argue that the continued propagation of this mantra is counterproductive to improving the relationship between environmental science, policy and practice. Chris will present the case that a shift in the academic study of science-policy-practice interfaces is needed, towards the study of ‘bright spots’ – situations whereby science has successfully influenced and impacted on policy and practice.  Drawing on a range of empirical case studies from Australia and overseas, he will identify and outline practical strategies for improving the impact of environmental science on policy and practice, and the institutional conditions necessary for underpinning their implementation.   


About the speaker

Dr Chris Cvitanovic is an environmental social scientist who has recently joined the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS) at ANU.  Most broadly his research is focused on improving the relationship between science, policy and practice to enable evidence-informed decision-making, primarily within marine contexts. In doing so Chris draws on almost ten years of experience working at the interface of science and policy for the Australian Government Department of Environment, and then as a Knowledge Broker in CSIROs Climate Adaptation Flagship.  More information on Chris can be found at: