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From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Can science drive ocean policy?


Thursday 13 August 2009, 11:00 am

ARC Centre of Excellence Conference Room, JCU (DB44)
Dr Chad English, Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea

An advocate for the value of science to society, Dr. Chad English is Director of Science Policy Outreach at COMPASS (the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea), a multi-faceted organization that works to catalyze policy-focused thinking within the scientific community, build the capacity of individual scientists to effectively communicate their, and connect scientists directly to policy makers.  In this capacity he has built an active science-to-policy program to connect members of U.S. Congress and other high-level policy makers directly to communication-trained marine scientists to help inform ocean policies with timely and pertinent science.  His work has included development of policy-focused communication programs for scientists, and the use of strategic communication to infuse scientific knowledge and concepts into policy discussions.  Chad studied coastal physical oceanography at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, where his research focused on the response of shelf waters to wind forcing.  Following his doctoral work, Chad won a John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship to work for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation where he managed a portfolio of living marine resource issues. Chad then won a position as Chairman’s Designee for the Science Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he advised members of Congress on ocean science, ocean governance and technology issues.


Many decisions made by policy makers and society at large do not reflect  the current state of scientific knowledge, especially with respect to the oceans. This can be particularly galling to the scientific community in the face of pressing issues such as overfishing, climate change and habitat destruction.  Can the marine science community take a more proactive roll in ensuring that new developments in the science are rapidly adopted by policy making?  Dr. Chad English will share insights into a model of engagement for scientists and others that has significantly advanced the uptake of science by the media and policy makers.  Drawing from social marketing strategies, the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS) has been pioneering new ways to address the cultural divides that often prevent clear dialogue between scientists, journalists and policy makers.  Dr. English will share examples of how COMPASS has built effective networks of scientists, journalists and policy makers at state and federal levels, and new mechanisms that COMPASS is exploring to further enhance productive communication between scientists and policy makers.  Dr. English’s talk will transition to a discussion of how this model might be adapted to Australian audiences.


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