Science and Politics: Friends or Foes?

What makes them tick? Dr. Eric Smaling will tell about his experiences as a politician in the Dutch first and second chamber of parliament and reflect on lessons learned in the field of tension between science and politics. Is there a mismatch between science and politics? How then to stay friends if you don’t understand the other?

Organised by Studium Generale

Wed 6 March 2019 20:00 to 22:30

Venue Impulse, gebouwnummer 115

Scientists often think their work is policy-relevant, and by sending reports and scientific papers to the Ministry, it will translate into a policy by itself. But between science and policies, there is politics. And politics is not just about adopting relevant scientific discourses. Politicians choose their topics with their voters in the back of their minds, considering e.g. ‘How can I get more time on radio, television, social media, and in the newspaper?’ Time is limited and lots of policy-relevant reports end up in drawers. How does this work? Which scientific outputs really hit the target? And how come we as scientists have such a rudimentary knowledge about how the political system works?

In this series we will discuss to what extent knowledge is used in the Dutch and international political arena. Is knowledge driving political decision making? Is there a regular influx of knowledge into the political arena, or is it more incident-based? And what is more important to get something on the political agenda: the relevancy of the message, the way the message is brought across or the lobby and advocacy involved?

Biography dr. Eric Smaling

Amsterdam, 18-8-1957.  MSc Soil Science Wageningen (1982), PhD Soil Fertility Management Wageningen (1993).

Soil research in Indonesia, East, Southern and West Africa (Wageningen Environmental Research, 1983-1997)

Professor of soil science (Wageningen) and sustainable agriculture (Twente/ITC) (1998-2012)

Free-lance consultant World Bank, FAO, UNEP, Rockefeller Foundation, Gates Foundation, CGIAR (2004-2012)

Director Development Policy, Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) (2011-2012)

Senator (2007-2013) and Member of Lower House (2013-2017) for Socialist Party

Back at Wageningen UR (2017-present)