LAUNCH OF PARLIAMENTARY FRIENDS OF SOCIAL SCIENCE
TUESDAY, 10 SEPTEMBER 2019
As a professor-turned-politician, today's event is exactly the kind of thing that I hoped I might be able to participate in when I made the jump from the ANU to the Parliament. I was at the time somewhat chuffed to be a fellow of one of the academies, until I realised that when he sat in parliament, Barry Jones was a fellow of all four national academies.
It does put things in perspective.
But today, and Social Science Week more broadly, I think of as making politics more porous by ensuring that we're a country that draws more deeply upon the resources of the social sciences. Whether it's psychology or political science, anthropology and sociology... even economics!
All of the social sciences have a vital role in shaping public policy for the better. It's important we have those conversations around critical issues, such as climate change. I've just been doing some research around incarceration. There's critical questions around productivity to be explored.
It’s also important that we're having that conversation around how we can ensure that the social sciences are at their best in a time in which governments are resource-constrained and are keen to get more research. Whether we want to have more competition among research funding bodies, whether we can allocate research in a more efficient manner, how we tackle issues such as that replication crisis in social sciences. All of those sorts of conversations are absolutely critical.
I mentioned my first speech one of my role models was Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late great US senator. A Harvard professor turned politician, who throughout his career focused on ensuring that the gap between academia and policymaking was as narrow as it could be. A couple of my thesis advisers worked closely with Moynihan, and I asked them what his secret was. They said two words, “dinner parties”.
The deal was that academics would turn up to a Moynihan dinner party. You'd bring your brilliant ideas from the academy, you'd give them to Moynihan and he would shamelessly steal them and pass them off as his own.
I don't know whether the Academy is going to embark on a series of dinner parties, but I think that idea that close personal engagement and the exchange of ideas can be productive for both sides is a really useful one.
This is today an event in which we're launching Parliamentary Friends of Social Sciences. I think of it as putting the social back into Social Sciences. Thank you all for being here today.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.