Past CSPO Events

  • September 09, 2016
    CSPO DC - New Tools for Science Policy

    The Illusion of Average: Implications for Scientists

    Improving Scientific Research in the Age of Personalization and Open Data

    In this conversation, we focus on the changing role of scientists when “on average” provides increasingly less useful information. Specifically, we present “agile science” as an organizing structure for generating and curating scientific evidence that can feasibly better embrace individual and contextual differences. Agile science draws from a variety of domains, but, at its core, builds on the logic of modularity that is central to today’s complex computing systems (e.g., operating systems, the Internet). We provide some active case studies of this approach in behavioral science, and discuss changes to the current roles and activities of researchers implied by agile science process, particularly for generating evidence to support decision-making on the “right” health intervention for specific individuals, in context, and over time.

    Eric Hekler, Predrag Klasnja

  • June 15, 2016

    Future Directions of Usable Science for Rangeland Sustainability

    As funding for rangeland research becomes more difficult to secure, researchers and funding organizations must ensure that the information needs of public and private land managers are met. Usable science that involves the intended end users through the scientific enterprise and gives rise to improved outcomes and informed management on the ground should be emphasized. The Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable workshop on Future Directions of Usable Science for Rangeland Sustainability brought together university and agency researchers, public and private land managers and producers, non-governmental organizations, and representatives of funding agencies and organizations to initiate the process of charting a research agenda for future directions of usable science for rangeland sustainability. Workshop outcomes address issues and research questions for soil health, water, vegetation (plants), animals, and socio-economic aspects of rangeland sustainability. A special issue of the journal Rangelands summarizes these outcomes, and will provided to session attendees. Presentations will be followed by a moderated discussion.

  • June 07, 2016

    Citizen Science: Empowering a Robust National Effort

    Anyone can learn how to use the scientific method in ways that contribute to investigations of how nature works and applying that understanding to develop new technologies. As professional scientists explore the universe, they find instances and places where more hands, eyes, and voices are needed to collect, analyze, and report data: Examples include documenting the biology and chemistry around rivers and lakes, monitoring the weather in sparsely populated regions, or logging the daily course of a disease or exercise regimen. Citizen scientists are increasingly answering the call, be it as enthusiastic hobbyists, STEM students augmenting their learning, or empowered friends and family of medical patients. This panel will discuss how various citizens are enhancing the nation’s scientific enterprise as well as ensuring that the government maximizes its benefits while avoiding any negative impact on the progress of science.

  • May 09, 2016
    CSPO DC - New Tools for Science Policy

    #IdeasToRetire: Information Systems in Public Management, Public Policy, and Governance

    Death of ideas are painful. In his classic 1962 book, Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn traces how “normal science” proceeds.  In normal science, a field evolves based on prior scientific achievements and is built, brick by brick, from an existing paradigm. The current paradigm grows and evolves and gradually an entire community coalesces around this set of beliefs. Scientific practitioners take great pains to defend the set of beliefs and, over time, the scientific community acts to suppress innovations that conflict with the existing paradigm. Further, the community makes no efforts to discover new ways of doing things, performance anomalies are covered up, discarded or ignored and there is no effort to invent new theory. Even worse, there is an active effort to suppress new theories and those who espouse them. It is only when an existing paradigm is utter bereft of value that the community starts to examine the existing paradigm and challenge it.

    Information systems are fundamentally transforming how we manage public institutions and conduct public policy. Yet, even a causal glance at the mainstream public management and public policy research outlets reflects a glaring omission of serious research into information systems when it comes to their design, management, governance, and evaluation. This state of affairs is not acceptable given the critical nature of information systems and their potential to impact how we govern. For all of the investments that the public sector has made in technology, we still see dismal failures in IT usage, management and implementation in government. A critical issue that stands in our way to realizing the full potential of IT when it comes to transforming our public agencies, delivery of public services, and the crafting and execution of public policies – antiquated ideas that hold us back. Adherence to these ideas is causing two undesirable outcomes: (1) an unacceptable gap between the promise of technology and its current failure rate and (2) a failure to fully realize the benefits of technology. In this talk, I will share findings from the #IdeasToRetire project. Our conclusion from this project of this is simple: government is stymied by outmoded ideas and can do better. Fixing this requires both thoughtful insight and courage.

    Kevin C. Desouza

  • April 29, 2016
    CSPO DC - New Tools for Science Policy

    Innovation in Higher Education – Africa’s Turn

    All over the industrialized world, university education is undergoing long-anticipated change. Universities, in Europe and especially North America, are emphasizing more learning through real-world experience, interdisciplinary studies, integrated teaching and research, social media, and online courses. For policymakers in developing countries, university-level education remains a lower priority, but emerging trends suggest wider participation by the children of middle classes and reduced reliance on top-down models of learning. Increasingly, the best and brightest of developing countries view university degrees as the new normal, and star students seek to balance mastery of established fields of disciplinary knowledge with an advanced education in interdisciplinarity, creativity, and entrepreneurship. In an unexpected turn, these trends are growing in visibility and significance in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Drawing on parallel studies of public and private universities in Uganda and Kenya, Matthew Harsh (Concordia) and Gregg Pascal Zachary (Arizona State) present preliminary findings on innovations in higher education that augur well for workforce development, economic growth, and directing knowledge workers towards the pursuit of unmet societal goals, as well as rewarding individual careers. Harsh and Zachary pay special attention to the emergence of university-based studies in computer science at undergraduate and graduate levels. Dramatic growth in CS graduates in both countries since 2000 reflects demographic trends: widening access to universities for both men and women, as well as a move away from traditional professions and disciplines towards applied and theoretical studies in computing, information technology, and communications. Harsh and Zachary will provide a survey of what’s working and what isn’t in two East African countries where enrollments are growing rapidly and where economies are absorbing talented, well-educated graduates at rates without historical precedent for the region.

    Matthew Harsh, G. Pascal (Gregg) Zachary

  • April 27, 2016

    What is Bioart?

    enLIGHTeNING Lunch with Hannah Rogers


    This talk will probe a question about the intersection of contemporary art and biotechnology: What is bioart?

    Hannah Rogers

  • April 06, 2016

    enLIGHTeNING Lunch with Telpriore Tucker

    Electric Bikes: Ride into the Future of Electrified Transportation

    shadow of a bicycle

    Electric bikes (e-bikes) are a trending technology combining a traditional bike with a battery and motor for instant propulsion.

    Telpriore Tucker

  • March 16, 2016

    EnLIGHTeNING Lunch with Sarah Davies

    Hacking is Making is Doing: Hacker and Makerspaces and the Hacker Spirit

    This talk reflects on the question: what goes on within maker spaces, and what do their users understand themselves as engaged in?

    Sarah Davies