Evidence-based Policy

Evidence-based Policy – Course materials

This page contains presentations delivered at the first professional development course on Evidence-based Policy held in Brisbane on 21 November 2017, as well as three PowerPoint presentations delivered on 13 April 2018 in a follow-up event, along with supporting background papers.

All or most of these papers are copyright. Access to this page is being revealed only to those who attended the course, for their personal use.  That restriction is a condition of accessing the documents.



The program. The course focused on evidence-based methods of crafting policy, not technical scientific content.

A statement of the objectives is available. The event aimed at strengthening the scientific literacy of those in positions of influence in government, business, academe or civil society. The Society’s interest in evidence-based policy is explained in a short note here.

Chatham House rules operated during the seminar: in other words, no discussion is to be attributed outside the meeting without the speaker’s specific consent.

A post-seminar evaluation form is available.


Kate Charters

Heather Douglas

Michael Gutteridge: “Peak Oil – Hidden in Plain Sight” ©

Michael Gutteridge: “Climate Change- Beyond Denial” ©

Michael Gutteridge: “World Views” ©

Ian Lowe: “Limits to Growth” ©

Patrick Moss: “Geomorphology and Biogeography” ©

Brendan Markey-Towler 21 November: “A History of Economic Thought” ©

Brendan Markey-Towler 13 April: “Origins and Rationale for Australia’s Political System” ©

Brendan Markey-Towler 13 April: “Methods for Inducing Behavioural Change”  ©

Geoff Edwards: “A Policy Toolkit“. ©

Background papers

Society Member Dr Bill Laurance is co-author of a joint letter signed by more than 15,000 scientists warning that pressure of human population on the earth’s life support systems is placing the survival of humanity at stake. The letter  “World scientists’ warning to humanity” ©  was published in BioScience on 13 November.

Author Julian Cribb has published a recent article “Can we avert ecocide?” © drawing attention to the urgency of action to avoid “ecocide”.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005– Ecosystems and Well-being: Synthesis © . The full series of reports is downloadable from the MEA website.

Geoff Edwards: “Clarifying the status of policy” ©

On 19 October 2017 The Courier-Mail published an article by the President urging national politicians to ignore climate contrarians. More than 500 comments were appended, many of them angry and/or irrational. The exchange indicates the depth of the challenge facing all those who wish to build scientific evidence into policy.

The presenters

Geoff Edwards

Dr. Edwards’ first degree was in ecological science (Monash). He worked in parks and Crown land administration in Melbourne and Port Moresby and was a local government Councillor and Shire President in Victoria. From 1991-2006 he served in Queensland’s Department of Lands/Natural Resources as Manager, Land and Regional Planning. From January 2007, he served as CEO, South West NRM Ltd, the regional catchment body for the mulga lands, based in Charleville. He returned to the Department of Mines and Energy to work on energy policy and retired in July 2011. He studied public administration (UQ) in an endeavour to understand why environmental consciousness remained at the fringes of public policy. He obtained his doctorate (Griffith) for a critique of the mainstream view that the market is the optimum vehicle for determining where the ‘public interest’ lies. He has published in animal biology, economics, foreign affairs and public policy.

Kate Charters

Kate Charters is a Director of Management Solutions (Qld) Pty Ltd, a professional development and training company with particular interest in regional and rural issues at public policy and service delivery levels. Kate has worked at senior levels in government in policy and management and conducted a number of organisational and service reviews across a range of agencies including community groups, peak bodies, government and tertiary institutions. Kate’s interests are particularly in maintaining program and service integrity in the transition from policy to implementation and creating environments which optimize organisations’ abilities to be creative and motivated to set and achieve their goals. Kate chairs the National Steering Committee for the Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia (SEGRA) conference. SEGRA is Australia’s premier conference and is recognised as Australia’s most credible independent voice on issues affecting regional Australia.

Ian Lowe

Prof. Lowe is Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Griffith University, where he was previously Head of the School of Science.  He directed the Commission for the Future in 1988 and chaired the advisory council that in 1996 produced the first national report on the state of the environment. He has held a wide variety of advisory roles to all three levels of government, as well as being involved in several international scientific projects. His D.Phil is from the University of York. His most recent books are Bigger or Better? Australia’s population debate, and The Lucky Country? Reinventing Australia.  He was awarded an AO for services to science and technology, especially environmental science, and recently the International Academy of Sciences awarded him the Konrad Lorenz Gold Medal for his contribution to sustainable futures.

Brendan Markey-Towler

Dr Markey-Towler is an Industry Research Fellow at the Australian Institute for Business and Economics, and School of Economics at the University of Queensland. His current research focuses on the economics of knowledge and ideas. His work is particularly concerned with the interaction between economics and psychology, and spans behavioural and psychological economics, evolutionary economics, complexity and complex systems economics, microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, network theory as well as the philosophies of mind, time, and science.