When is Research Relevant to Policy Making? A Study of the Arctic Human Development report



An Excerpt


During the summer of 2009, researchers and practitioners concerned with circumpolar health gathered at an international conference in Yellowknife and heard Nellie Cournoyea, an Inuvialuit leader, recite an all too common message of frustration: research in the North is frequently not relevant to either the people being researched or to public policy (Cournoyea, 12 July 2009). This frustration has long been felt by northerners, and particularly by northern Aboriginal peoples. A quarter century ago, one observer lamented: “The isolation of scientists from the social impacts of their presence has sustained the treatment of the Northwest Territories as a research preserve for the outside academic community” (Biewlawski, 1984, p. 2). This apparent disconnect is explained using a familiar refrain:
For northerners, science is a source of development or aid; but for federal government officials and university researchers, science and technology are powerful instruments for producing knowledge that facilitates better rational governance. (Bravo, 2009, p. 157)

I think this north-south dichotomy holds decreasing explanatory value. Territorial and Aboriginal governments in the North now hold an array of governance powers, and policy makers in northern governments are also seeking knowledge that facilitates better governance. At the same time, northerners are also more involved in research than ever before.

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