When Science Changes Society: When and How Research has Impact

Presented by ANU College of Science


When does science change the world? What does it take for research to shape policy, practice, or social norms? How can - and should - research engage with business, policy, and communities? In this public lecture, we explore these questions and more with our international special guest Professor Mark Reed and an expert panel of Australian and international speakers. The speakers will share perspectives from climate change and biodiversity, with insights applicable across research, practice, and policy.

Mark Reed, Professor of Socio-Technical Innovation at Newcastle University (United Kingdom) will share stories and insights on his experience and leadership in turning ideas from research into real-world impacts:

Are you an ideas person? Do you wish your ideas could change the world? If you struggle to turn your ideas into reality, you are not alone. I have spent my career working with the cleverest people in the world, from philosophers to physicists, and they all share the same problem. Having good ideas is not enough to change the world.

I have studied what makes some ideas change perceptions, start movements and save lives, while other equally good ideas are ignored and forgotten. The difference between ideas that live or die lies in the way they are generated and put into practice. My research shows there are five things you need to get right if you want to come up with ideas that can change the world. I will share the tools I use to put these principles into practice on a day-to-day basis and share my own journey from an idea that occurred to me in a stairwell 15 years ago to national and international policy impacts.

Following Professor Reed's lecture, our expert panel will include:

  • Dr Prue Addison (University of Oxford, UK): Academic - Business partnerships to tackle environmental challenges
  • Dr Carina Wyborn (Luc Hoffmann Institute, USA): Co-producing conservation outcomes? Does the reality live up to the rhetoric?
  • Professor Mark Howden (ANU Climate Change Institute, Australia): The ethics of working at the science-policy interface: lessons from climate change
  • Dr Anthony Boxshall (Science Into Action, Australia): Science in Government: what to look for under the bonnet

A facilitated audience question & answer session will conclude the lecture.

About Professor Mark Reed

Mark a recognized international expert in impact research with >150 publications that have been cited >12,000 times. He is Professor of Socio-Technical Innovation at Newcastle University, UK, and runs a spin-out company based on his research on impact, changing the way researchers generate and share knowledge so that their ideas can change the world.

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This event is supported by the Fenner School of Environment and Society via the Environment and Society Synthesis Program and the Faculty of Science, Charles Sturt University.