16
Closing Remarks

NORMAN NEUREITER

American Association for the Advancement of Science


I want to look beyond the “Gateway” and consider the possibilities for turning the many suggestions into an enduring reality. If practiced by scientists of various countries—either bilaterally or multilaterally—scientific cooperation, in addition to providing direct scientific benefits from working together and solving common problems, can also serve as a gateway for better understanding between nations. If there is a shared belief of all the cooperating parties in the validity of the scientific method and the truth that can be derived from the practice of evidence-based science, then that is a head start toward the achievement of mutual understanding.

It is also useful to consider specific mechanisms for cooperation that can bring about such benefits. Participating in a joint seminar or conference or workshop on one or more specific topics is one form of cooperation. One meeting can be useful; but to have lasting impact there should be structured follow-up activities, such as convening a continuing series of workshops or seminars around the same or related topics over an extended period of time. Another possibility is to identify specific scientists or institutions that will continue to work together on problems identified in the seminar or workshop, thus building institutional and personal relationships as well.



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16 Closing Remarks NORMAN NEUREITER American Association for the Advancement of Science I want to look beyond the “Gateway” and consider the possibili- ties for turning the many suggestions into an enduring reality. If practiced by scientists of various countries—either bilaterally or multilaterally—scientific cooperation, in addition to providing di- rect scientific benefits from working together and solving common problems, can also serve as a gateway for better understanding be- tween nations. If there is a shared belief of all the cooperating par- ties in the validity of the scientific method and the truth that can be derived from the practice of evidence-based science, then that is a head start toward the achievement of mutual understanding. It is also useful to consider specific mechanisms for coop- eration that can bring about such benefits. Participating in a joint seminar or conference or workshop on one or more specific topics is one form of cooperation. One meeting can be useful; but to have lasting impact there should be structured follow-up activities, such as convening a continuing series of workshops or seminars around the same or related topics over an extended period of time. Another possibility is to identify specific scientists or institutions that will continue to work together on problems identified in the seminar or workshop, thus building institutional and personal relationships as well. 163

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164 SCIENCE AS A GATEWAY TO UNDERSTANDING Cooperation can take other forms. There can be short visits of senior scientists and professors, for whom workshops or lectures are convened in the receiving country. Two groups in two coun- tries can work on different aspects of the same topic, with easy communication over the Internet and occasional short-term visits to discuss results. A truly cooperative project is best achieved through actual exchanges of researchers between laboratories in the two countries. The exchanges can be at any level academic level—bachelors, masters, postdoctoral, or senior researcher. A successful project should result in joint publication of results in an international journal by authors from both countries. Such joint projects can be undertaken through informal relationships between individual scientists and their coworkers or they can be institution- alized through formal agreements between institutions. If political relations between two countries are strained, it is sometimes still possible to develop cooperation through interna- tional organizations such as United Nations affiliated organiza- tions, the International Council of Scientific Unions, or smaller bodies such as the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis. Professional scientific societies, such as the American Chemical Society or the academies of science of different various countries can also facilitate cooperation. There are many areas in which cooperation is possible, even as there may be some topics or areas that will be considered too sensitive for cooperation. Promising areas for cooperation in- clude science education at all levels, science and technology pol- icy, geosciences, energy, food production, water quality and quan- tity, and medical research problems, together with basic research in many disciplines. Turning to the example of the United States and Iran, ef- forts are needed on both sides to eliminate or mitigate the barriers that inhibit cooperation. On our side, we can generate publicity about our present visit to Iran, the success of our seminar, and the warm welcome that we have received. We can mention some of the cooperative research opportunities that exist in Iran. We can also work with the U.S. Department of the Treasury to facilitate

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CLOSING REMARKS 165 the issuance of licenses to work with Iran and with the U.S. De- partment of State to facilitate the issuance of visas for Iranian sci- entists. We need private sources of funding for cooperation, and we should explore the interest of Iranian-born scientists now living in the United States in promoting cooperation with Iranian institu- tions. The success in some of these actions will also depend on the public perception in the United States of Iran’s international pos- ture and the public policy positions taken by the Iranian govern- ment. In other words, there is a lot for us and our scientific institu- tions to do in both countries to improve the climate for U.S-Iran cooperation in science and technology. Today we are at a very difficult moment in U.S.-Iran rela- tions. We need real efforts on the part of scientists in both coun- tries who believe that the correct future is a better relationship be- tween our countries. We need to work hard to make that point clear as we go forward in order to change the present course in our rela- tions. I fear that the present direction is toward a further deteriora- tion that would be most unfortunate for both sides and deny both our peoples the benefits that are possible from a different relation- ship and closer cooperation.

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