Maryse Lassonde - President (2015-2017)
Here we are back from New Year’s celebrations and the pace of work quickly resumed at Walter House, our home. The New Fellow Selection Committees of the Academies are already formed and underway. Nominations for the College and the Royal Society’s awards are flooding in so don’t forget the date of March 8—the deadline to submit for these—and I again and always encourage you to submit candidacies that reflect Canadian diversity.
The RSC Council and its statutory committees regularly meet and one of the key mandates for all of these groups will be to consider the role that the RSC must and should play in scientific diplomacy. Since its creation in 1883, the RSC has acted as the national academy of Canada, both nationally and internationally. However, our role as a scientific and political advisor has not been as dynamic as that of other large national academies. This is in part because unlike other academies, the RSC does not receive any government subsidies. All development and new initiatives therefore rely solely on the contributions of our Fellows, whether financially through annual membership dues or through personal involvement in the Society’s various political, scientific or social committees. Once again thank you to the Fellows who invest considerably in carrying out our mission and as such in promoting the RSC.
In light of our government’s increased openness to scientific advice and in light of the specific political and scientific climate that prevails in a number of countries including certain limitrophe states, it is important for the RSC, which consists of the most eminent Canadian researchers and creators, to position itself as a leader in this important area of scientific advisor. The RSC Council recently mandated a working group to study this issue, which should form one of the key elements of our next strategic plan.
However, revitalizing the RSC’s scientific advisory role is but one of the aspects of our future strategic plan. Excellence remains the value that defines the RSC first and foremost. But how can we define excellence in a context where performance, artistic or scientific quality indicators are rapidly evolving? How can we also capitalize on the existence of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists, which can offer an energized and intersectoral perspective within the RSC?
These are all questions that will be explored in consultations that we have initiated throughout Canada, under the stewardship of Chris Loreto, a Council member who greatly helped us outline our last strategic plan, and of course with the support of the entire RSC staff guided by our Executive Director, Darren Gilmour. You are all welcome to send us your comments and vision with regard to the future of our Society. Rest assured that we will integrate them into the discussions leading up to the finalization of this new strategic plan.
I will end this note by reminding you that on February 11, we will celebrate the second anniversary of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science created by the UN. I commend the excellence of our female RSC Fellows, both in the Academies and in the College, and I hope that all RSC Fellows continue to promote the participation of women and girls in all scientific fields.