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© Creative Bureaucracy Festival 2022 / Konstantin Börner

Creative Bureaucracy Festival meets Science: Interview Karen Hussey

Creative Bureaucracy Festival | Prof. Karen Hussey

After 15 years of working as an academic at the science-policy interface, Karen Hussey put her money where her mouth was and switched sides to become the deputy director-general of the Queensland Department of Environment and Science. So, what is the experience like moving from academia and policy research to a position as deputy directory?

Turning science into policy is all about three things: communication, timing, and access. We often forget that the work done in science and government is between individual people, thus, communication and understanding are key. Timing refers to the necessity to articulate the answers to the questions that are being asked now – not the question that one wishes had been asked and not the questions asked three years ago. Finally, without scientists maintaining and building connections to policymakers and vice versa, connections start to break down and access to information and input becomes harder for both sides. During the interview, Karen leads us on a journey, elaborating on these three topics and provide deep insights into the policy-making process and the role that science can – and cannot – play. The democratic process is messy, but by effectively integrating science as one of the many inputs to the policymaking process, a lot can be achieved.


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Prof. Karen Hussey is the Deputy Director General in the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science. Karen leads the development and coordination of policy, strategy and legislation relating to the environment, conservation and cultural heritage. She oversees the delivery of strategic programs such as protection of the Great Barrier Reef, waste management and resource recovery, and the Land Restoration Fund. She also leads policy and programs in areas such as heritage, climate change, environmental offsets, biodiversity, koala conservation and State of Environment reporting. Prior to joining government, Karen was Professor and Director of the Centre for Policy Futures at the University of Queensland.

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