Society of Policy Scientists 2019 Annual Institute

Last month I was fortunate to attend the Society of Policy Scientists Annual Institute at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. This conference was my first experience interacting with researchers at a non-marine science academic conference. Although marine social scientists have diverse world-views, geographic focuses, and research methodologies, this conference expanded my view of the way to approach problems, particularly problems that are concerned with political and policy processes.

The theme of this conference, ‘Intelligence Function,’ focused on the systematic application and accumulation of knowledge. Although that description may lead some eyes reading this to glaze over, the research that was presented centered on pragmatic approaches to unpack policy problems and provide accurate appraisals to inform policy changes. I was impressed by the diversity of problems that can be analyzed by the policy sciences approach, from informing the inclusion of traditional knowledge in bear management at the regional level to investigating how to leverage political interests in climate action into government policy at national and international levels.

Connecting with policy scientists in both government and academia gave me different perspectives on how to tackle the policy problems I am interested in such as implementing more wholistic views of ecosystem management and incorporating social justice considerations into how we govern our natural resources.

The big take-away from this conference is the variety of tools and quantitative and qualitative methodologies that are available to tackle the problems in the marine space that I work in. I’m grateful to the Society of Policy Scientists for giving me a crash course in one of the most fundamental aspects of the policy sciences: who are we doing policy for?

Approaching policy problems with this question in mind forces researchers to question and re-question their motivations and methodologies, ideally leading to applied solutions. Although I’m just getting my feet wet in the policy-sciences-world, I hope to utilize the tools of the policy sciences to fill in the gaps of my own thinking and research approaches. As the problems facing coastal communities and fish harvesters globally are catalyzed by climate change and globalization, it is now essential that the research deployed to capture their voices must not be only inclusive, but robust and practical.


Jack Daly

Jack’s Masters’ research looked at fisheries trade through the lens of a bilateral free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. This research, nested in fishing communities in the Great Northern Peninsula of the island of Newfoundland, examined how people in fishing communities perceive trade and ultimately how trade policy impacts them.

Jack completed his MA degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland, under the supervision of Dr. Ratana Chuenpagdee. His research was funded by TBTI and Ocean Frontier Institute.