[csaa-forum] Chief Scientist and PMSEIC: review overdue

Toss Gascoigne director at chass.org.au
Tue Jun 19 23:08:50 CST 2007


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In this issue:
- Chief Scientist and PMSEIC: review overdue

Chief Scientist and PMSEIC: review overdue
The Prime Minister has been asked to review the role and
functions of two of the Government's prime advisory bodies, the
Chief Scientist and the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and
Innovation Council (PMSEIC). 

Professor Stuart Cunningham, President of the Council for the
Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (CHASS), said today
(Wednesday) that he had written to the Prime Minister on this

"The problem with both institutions is that they are constructed
to focus all their attention on the natural sciences – physics,
chemistry, biology and so on," he said. 

"They ignore any possible contribution of the humanities and
social sciences, even though many of our most pressing issues
need input from these disciplines. 

"If you only have access to half the expertise, you'll only get
half the solution," he said.  "Australia's got some big issues to
tackle, and our sector is waiting for the chance to contribute." 

He nominated water and health are two areas where changing human
behaviour is as important as any technological solution. 

Professor Cunningham said CHASS had suggested creating a new
Office of Innovation, to house a strengthened position
encompassing the role of the Chief Scientist.  The humanities and
social sciences would be part of this office. 

"The Chief Scientist was established to provide 'comprehensive
and timely advice' to Government," he said.  "I don't see how you
can provide this sort of advice unless you take into account the
expertise of the humanities and social sciences." 

Professor Cunningham said there should be greater representation
for the humanities and social sciences on PMSEIC.  Membership is
currently dominated by the natural sciences and engineering. 

CHASS had also called for a re-naming of the 'Department of
Education, Science and Training' to the more inclusive
'Education, RESEARCH and Training'.  Professor Cunningham
described this as an important symbolic step. 

He released the letter to the Prime Minister as part of a CHASS
event bringing people from the humanities, arts and social
sciences into Canberra to meet with federal Members of Parliament
on Wednesday June 20. 

For interview:  Professor Stuart Cunningham 0407 195 304

For information:  Toss Gascoigne 0408 704 442


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