#15, December 2023


Science in municipal administration: a lever for public innovation

Faced with the complexity of today’s social and environmental challenges, municipalities take on an essential role. They must experiment with new solutions, often specific to their territories, while aiming for a systemic transformation. The challenge is such that it requires, more than ever before, the elevating of all types of knowledge, whether experiential, professional or academic.

More specifically, Raccords considers the potential of using scientific data for social innovation, and observes that building a bridge between science and municipal management is an innovation in and of itself.

Indeed, while municipal governments have long relied on scientific knowledge in the development of public policy, collaboration with researchers, until recently, remained infrequent and confined to specific needs. But today, a wind of change is blowing throughout institutions and society. A growing number of municipalities are demonstrating a willingness to integrate scientific advice into their general management, innovation processes, and decision-making by relying, to a greater degree, on knowledge developed in the world of research. By creating the position of chief science advisor, cities make it possible to approach problems through the prism of scientific data, which in turn is conducive to “de-risking” innovative ideas that have the potential to usher in systemic transformation.

Julie-Maude Normandin, Chief Scientific Advisor, is our guest on the Raccords podcast

In this episode of the Raccords podcast, we talk to Julie-Maude Normandin. A researcher specializing in urban resilience and the holder of a PhD in public administration, public policy, and management, she has served as Chief Scientific Advisor for the City of Longueuil since June 2023. Through qualitative, quantitative, and participatory approaches, she seeks to develop an internal scientific culture that promotes the exploration of every possible avenue in the resolving of complex challenges on a municipal scale.

“Today, we’re witnessing an explicit recognition, by certain cities, of how important it is to support and emphasize the use of science in municipal management and decision-making. This is a good thing, because scientific knowledge and data help us to understand not only social and environmental problems, but also possible solutions. We can measure their effectiveness, and support and adapt them in order to guarantee a sustainable future.” Julie-Maude Normandin

Photo : Courtesy Julie-Maude Normandin

Note: This podcast was recorded before we became aware of the very recent appointment of a scientist-in-residence for the City of Laval. It’s a sign that a movement endorsing science as a lever for public innovation is clearly underway, especially since the City of Laval has also created an Office of Social Innovation and Ecological Transition. We love it!

About the Raccords podcast

The Raccords podcast presents Canada’s leading voices of innovation and change—the people shaping our response to the socio-environmental challenges of the 21st Century. Episodes may be produced in French or English.

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