need to make informed choices for their constituencies. When passing a bill, weighing the impact — whether ethical, environmental or economic — is increasingly complex, particularly in the areas of engineering and technology. Government decisions have both immediate and long-term social effects on how energy is used, how people live and how we implement innovations.
Despite the gravity of the stakes, there are several obstacles. For one, politicians and scientists often don’t speak the same language. We need experts who can inform debate and shape what’s to come. With your support, the first-of-a-kind Centre for on Engineering, Technology and Public Policy can bridge this widening gap.
From policy to practice
It is estimated that the Canadian government will spend $750 billion over the next 10 years on infrastructure. Doing so wisely will be key to a more competitive Canadian economy and communal prosperity. Engineering experts trained in public policy will have a critical role to play in an information-based economy. Vast and complex amounts of knowledge need to be reliably distilled to help determine how best to strengthen our society and protect our environment.
For example, Quebec has taken steps towards cyberphysical power systems — infrastructure that would allow citizens with solar panels and other means of green energy to feed their surplus electricity to the power grid. To successfully achieve this feat, considerations include:
The safety of enabling individual access to a public utility;
How supply and demand will be affected;
Changes to infrastructure that enable two-way use of power sources.
Concordia scholars and other Canadian researchers explore these issues extensively. Our Think Tank on Engineering, Technology and Public Policy will provide a channel that connects their latest findings with key decision makers and public- and private-sector stakeholders.
With support from visionary donors, the Think Tank on Engineering, Technology and Public Policy will tackle issues related to:
Technological disruption: A study from Oxford University estimates that 47 per cent of jobs in the United States could be performed by robots within the next 20 years. What policies will have the power to absorb the shock of imminent and major disruption?
Climate change: Optimized road and transit networks can reduce congestion and emissions. Retrofitted and smart buildings can significantly increase energy efficiency. How can we accelerate their implementation?
Ethics: Incredible advances in areas such as bionics — mechanics that function as an extension of the human body — and genomic engineering
are near on the horizon. Should we allow laws of supply and demand to decide who gets access?
Social justice: Too often, major infrastructure policies have adversely affected Canada’s more vulnerable communities, including Indigenous or urban poor. Do today’s new policy ideas recognize the potential effects on all citizens?
Uniting expertise: How do we reach across disciplines and institutions to produce ingenuity that serves the public good?
Help teach for tomorrow
Your contribution to the Think Tank on Engineering, Technology and Public Policy will help us:
Launch a university think tank that is unique in Canada — one that breaks down traditional barriers within academia;
Empower engineers and computer scientists to contribute to public debate;
Prepare talent for next-generation work opportunities in an area where demand is likely to surge in Canada;
Produce research with a direct impact on shaping our collective future.
Support Concordia’s Think Tank on Engineering, Technology and Public Policy