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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape 3 Bilateral and Regional Workshops From 1980 to 2008 the National Research Council (NRC) sponsored more than 30 workshops in cooperation with the academies of sciences in Eastern Europe. Most of these workshops were held on a bilateral basis in the region during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The principal funders were the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the NRC. A few were held in the United States. Several were organized on a bilateral basis but included participants from several countries within the region, and on two occasions participants from outside the region also participated. Some of these workshops are discussed below. They are organized on a country-by-country basis, and all of the workshops are listed in Appendix A. In addition, a variety of specialized training programs and scientific meetings for young investigators were sponsored by the NRC, held primarily in the region, between 1989 and 1997. In some cases, counterpart academies of sciences served as cosponsors; and in other cases research institutions in the countries of interest were the cosponsors. These activities are discussed in Chapter 4. They are also chronicled in Appendix A. Finally, representatives of the National Academies have participated in regional workshops in Eastern Europe organized by counterpart academies. Several that were of particular interest to the National Academies are also discussed in Chapter 4. Each workshop discussed below addressed a specific topic of mutual interest. Some were proposed by the NRC, others by the counterpart acad-
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape emies. The NRC has been more constrained in the selection of appropriate topics than the counterpart academies because of the special interests of the funding organizations in the United States. For example, energy and environmental protection were popular topics with U.S. foundations that provided financial support. Also, in several instances NSF was interested in basic science topics that introduced U.S. scientists to counterparts who might subsequently serve as partners on research projects. In the early days, there was always concern whether or not the Eastern European workshop participants would be selected on the basis of their expertise, rather than as a result of political connections. Of course, participation by government officials was important. Overall, the participants were well informed, often criticized domestic policies, and engaged in lively discussions about both scientific and policy issues. The organizational aspects of the bilateral workshops were somewhat standardized, with eight to ten specialists from each country participating. Most participants usually made presentations. In several cases, workshop proceedings were published by the National Academies Press. The participants from abroad almost always had an opportunity to meet in the country where the workshop took place with local officials and visit facilities engaged in research activities relevant to the topic of the workshop. In many instances the participants considered such meetings and visits more important than the workshops themselves in providing insights of scientific and technological interest. But without the workshops, many of the meetings and visits would not have been possible. In general, the U.S. participants traveling to Eastern Europe gave positive reports of their professional and cultural experiences. Similarly, reports of Eastern European participants that were available to the NRC were generous in their praise of the workshops, from both the scientific and hospitality viewpoints. Unfortunately, the NRC did not have the resources to systematically keep abreast of follow-on activities, which at least in some cases continued to bring together specialists working in the same fields. GERMAN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC (GDR) The GDR was one of the most scientifically isolated countries of Eastern Europe throughout the Cold War. As discussed in Chapter 2, there were limited contacts between GDR and U.S. institutions in the 1970s, and several additional collaborations evolved from the individual exchange program of the NRC in the 1980s. However, when representatives of the NRC traveled to scientific institutions in the GDR during the late 1980s, meeting East German scientists who had contacts in the United States was a rare event.
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape BOX 3-1 U.S.-GDR Heterogeneous Catalysis Workshop (1990) Environmental Minister Karl-Hermann Steinberg and GDR academy president Siegfried Nowak led the GDR delegation. In general, the East German scientists had focused their research so it directly addressed applied problems, while the American emphasis had been on concepts and more fundamental aspects of catalysis. The GDR scientists visited four California universities after the workshop. SOURCE: NRC Office of Soviet and East European Affairs. 1990. Newsletter (Fall 1990), p. 21. Two interacademy workshops were held involving GDR and U.S. scientists. The first was on the topic of biosciences in East Berlin in 1989. At the time, the U.S. government had an office in East Berlin, and that office embraced the workshop as a major political event. The scientific discussions provided insights into GDR research, which was far from the frontier of world science; and the visits to research institutions also confirmed that the researchers were lagging behind their counterparts in Europe as well as in the United States. However, the American participants did find limited achievements in molecular biology, plant genetics, and plant biochemistry that were at a competitive level with U.S. science. At the same time, the GDR participants had followed the international literature. They were generally aware of achievements in the United States, and they were familiar with the research of some of the American participants. A second workshop in California on the topic of heterogeneous catalysis took place in 1990. At the time, the GDR was approaching the doorstep of absorption by the Federal Republic of Germany. Again the weaknesses in the research base of the GDR were apparent (see Box 3-1). Given the subsequent political turmoil within the GDR, few if any, follow-on activities resulted from this workshop. BULGARIA Of all the academies of sciences in the region, in the 1980s the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences was the most interested in moving forward quickly with bilateral workshops. This enthusiasm was attributable in part to Bulgarian recognition of the political importance of workshops involving U.S. scientists and to the interest of the scientific leadership in having the Bulgarian academy be known as an important player on the international scientific scene. On two occasions, the American participants
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape BOX 3-2 Conduct of Research in Bulgaria (1987) The Bulgarian papers discussed the financing of fundamental research, basic research and its applications at the University of Sofia and the Bulgarian academy, kinetics of the introduction of an invention, and competitive systems and innovation. These topics were timely since Bulgaria was engaged in the reorganization and restructuring of many economic, political, and scientific institutions. The number of ministries was shrinking from 30 to less than 10. The Bulgarian academy was also being reorganized to decentralize management of research and to introduce greater competition in the funding of research projects. SOURCE: NRC Office of Soviet and East European Affairs. 1987. Newsletter (Winter 1987), pp. 4-5. in workshops in Bulgaria were invited to meetings with Bulgarian President Todor Zhivkov, who attentively listened to their observations as to the future promise of research in the country. From 1986 to 1993 seven workshops were held in Bulgaria and the United States. One of these workshops included specialists from Romania as well. The topics of primary interest to the Bulgarian academy were (1) introduction of research results into practice and (2) use of computers to enhance the educational process, particularly at the secondary school level. During this period, a new private-sector computer industry was developing, and contacts with Western companies such as IBM were expanding. Thus, representatives of the private sector were active participants in several of the workshops that were held in Bulgaria (see Box 3-2). The workshops led to several collaborations, some of which were sustained through the individual exchange programs described in Chapter 2. This flurry of workshops was also an important aspect of U.S.-Bulgarian relations on a broad basis at a time when significant political transformations were under way in the country. In this regard, the activities of the NRC provided the U.S. embassy in Sofia opportunities to engage in discussions with important Bulgarian leaders. ROMANIA During the 1980s, opportunities for organizing scientific workshops with the academy of Romania were limited. The academy was undergoing a variety of changes concerning its relationship with government
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape BOX 3-3 Workshop on Ecology Challenges in Romania (1990) As one of the few delegations of Western scientists to visit Romania in several decades, the Americans received personal attention from the State Secretary for the Environment and from highly respected Romanian scientists. Topics of interest were management of aquatic ecosystems, including agriculture and environmental impacts, and air and water pollution control. During the first week, the American specialists observed lakes, canals, and agricultural lands in the Danube Delta and inspected forests experiencing a drying phenomenon, presumably due to overuse of pesticides. The subsequent workshop involved 40 Romanian specialists. SOURCE: NRC Office of Soviet and East European Affairs. 1991. Newsletter (Fall 1991), p. 5. research institutions of the country, arrangements that were orchestrated in large measure by Deputy Prime Minister Elena Ceausescu, a chemist and the wife of President Nicolae Ceausescu. At the same time, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was the most visible U.S. organization engaged in scientific exchanges with the country, and the Romanian diaspora in the United States was encouraging the NRC to expand ties with Romania’s scientific leaders. The first interacademy workshop in Romania in 1989 was in the field of operator algebra. It was considered in both countries as a unique event in U.S.-Romanian relations. There were strong ties among the Romanian and American participants, including long-standing collaboration in publication of an international mathematics journal in the United States. Although the workshop was held in a secondary city, Craiova, the publicity in Bucharest was substantial. Of particular note was the leadership role in the late 1980s of several Romanian professors from Bucharest University and the Polytechnical University who had participated in interacademy activities. They became active in the popular movement that led to the overthrow of the Ceausescu regime. Some of these professors were subsequently elected or appointed to very senior positions within the government. Two workshops in 1990 and 1992 focused on ecological issues, primarily in the Danube Delta. These workshops were of considerable interest to the participants from both countries and probably strengthened the hand of Romanian ecological advocates in limiting the environmental damage from the expanding maritime activities in the delta (see Box 3-3). Subsequent joint activities also focused on ecological problems in deltas
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape in the two countries, as well as on broader environmental problems, as discussed in Chapter 4. POLAND From 1987 to 1994 the NRC collaborated with the Polish Academy of Sciences in sponsoring four workshops in the United States and Poland. These were directed to ecological and energy issues, which were receiving considerable attention from the U.S. embassy in Warsaw (for example, see Box 3-4). A high point of the collaboration was the publication by the National Academy Press of a jointly prepared report in 1990 entitled Ecological Risks: Perspectives from Poland and the United States. This book captured many important developments in the two countries in the field of ecology that helped establish ecological baselines in support of Polish national goals. It also provided interesting insights on political developments within the country (see Box 3-5). Early in this cooperation, both sides recognized the importance of a focus on young investigators. The governmentally sponsored scientific cooperation between Poland and the United States was extensive, and many privately organized exchanges were under way. But the encouragement of young scientists to become more involved in application of their experience in the policy arena was generally considered as a missing element both in exchanges and in other activities in Poland. As discussed in Chapter 4, this emphasis on young investigators became another focus of interacademy activities. After a long lapse in holding collaborative workshops, in 2007 and 2008 workshops sponsored by the NRC and the Polish Academy of Sciences were held. These workshops were not part of an overall plan to BOX 3-4 U.S.-Poland Workshop on Energy Efficiency (1990) During the 2-week program, the American specialists visited government ministries, nongovernmental organizations, research institutes, and industrial plants in the Warsaw, Krakow, and Silesia regions to improve their understanding of environmental and energy challenges in Poland. During a debate in the parliament, the visitors were questioned about U.S. energy policy and asked for their input on solving Poland’s problems. SOURCE: NRC Office of Soviet and East European Affairs. 1991. Newsletter (Fall 1991), p. 6.
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape BOX 3-5 National Debate among Political Forces in Poland (1989) While the statements and demands for reform resulting from the Round Table Talks still stand as goals for the nation, the responsibility for their fulfillment is changing. In the environmental field, several political forces are now competing and the so-called “green” parties are growing stronger and stronger. Polish society is now freely articulating its own goals and aspirations. And the new government is struggling to meet the immediate needs of the people and, at the same time, help the country make the necessary adjustments to a free-market economy. SOURCE: Grodzinski, Wladyslaw, Ellis B. Cowling, and Alicija Breymeyer, editors. 1990. Ecological Risks: Perspectives from Poland and the United States. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, p. v. revive interacademy cooperation, but resulted from interests of NRC staff members who were able to find funding for the ad hoc efforts. The first in Warsaw was devoted to biosecurity issues, and it attracted participants from 15 countries who focused on dual-use concerns in the conduct of biological research. The second was in Washington and was directed to the development of innovation systems in the two countries. CZECHOSLOVAKIA, THE CZECH REPUBLIC, AND SLOVAKIA While Czechoslovakia was on the cusp of political change, three interacademy workshops were organized from 1987 to 1992. The first two workshops were held in České Budějovice prior to the breakup of the country. They were devoted to agriculture and related environmental issues. The first workshop resulted in a solid report on conditions in the country, and particularly agriculture policy problems (see Box 3-6). A third workshop in Slovakia in 1991 with subsequent field visits in the Czech Republic considered the restructuring of the chemical industry. This was at a time when investors from Germany and the United States were negotiating with the two countries over the internationalization of several important facilities. The observations of the American experts, who had extensive experience in the field, were enthusiastically received, particularly by officials in Prague (see Box 3-7). Two additional workshops that involved specialists from several countries were also held in Prague. In 1992 German officials and other European observers discussed the absorption of the GDR research establishment into the overall German research system. The relative academic
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape BOX 3-6 Problems in the Agriculture Sector of Czechoslovakia (1987) Possible climatic changes from increased levels of carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur compounds released into the atmosphere Need for alternative sources of nitrogen to replace fertilizers Increasing exposure to toxic chemicals of human populations, including agricultural workers, and of plant and animal components of ecosystems in agricultural areas Poor soil management practices due to lack of understanding of soil behavior, poorly developed methods for soil analysis, and inadequate use of biotechnologies SOURCE: Phillips, Anna S., and Glenn Schweitzer, editors. 1987. Agricultural Development and Environmental Research, American and Czechoslovakian Perspectives. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, p. 218. BOX 3-7 Restructuring the Chemical Industry in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (1992) Fifty chemical enterprises faced privatization. Each enterprise would be without the benefits of guaranteed markets, access to raw materials well below world prices, and other state subsidies. Several enterprises had entered into joint ventures with Western firms with new international marketing channels and investment capital to replace outmoded facilities. Most enterprises were scrambling to attract foreign partners. While worker pay was low, bloated workforces raised costs of production. Also environmental retrofits added to near-term costs. These concerns were at the center of the workshop discussions. SOURCE: NRC Office of Soviet and East European Affairs. 1992. Newsletter, p. 19. standings of eastern and western German universities, the role of the Max Planck institutes in the former GDR, and the financial and quality control responsibilities of government ministries for former GDR institutions were on the agenda. A second workshop sponsored by the NRC in 1997 attracted scientific leaders from several Eastern European countries to discuss the intersections between democracy and science. Of special interest were the potential contributions to strengthening of democracy
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape of scientific advisory bodies to parliaments, advocacy of science-oriented professional societies, and the role of science journalists. Chapter 4 discusses additional events involving the NRC in these countries. Although the workshops and related activities have been limited in number, the interactions between the staffs of the NRC and the academies of the countries have been strong over many years. Working-level visits in both directions to stay abreast of developments in the United States and the region have been frequent. HUNGARY Throughout the Cold War, Hungary was well known for its scientific openness, and workshops were relatively easy to organize in the country. Five workshops were organized by the NRC and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) from 1988 to 1995—four in Hungary and one in the United States. These workshops were largely oriented to technology management, and they involved Hungarian specialists from government ministries and research institutes beyond the institutes of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Several workshop agendas were tied quite closely to the evolution of Hungary’s economic development policies. This orientation was due in part to the interests of the president of the Hungarian academy, who was an economist; and he helped to set the stage for the workshops. A particularly significant publication entitled Industrial Strategies and Policies for Economic Growth in the 1990s, NAS-MTA Workshop was published by the Research Institute of Industrial Economics in Budapest in 1991 (see Box 3-8). During the 1990s several other external organizations became quite involved in supporting scientific activities in Hungary. In particular, the BOX 3-8 U.S.-Hungary Workshop on Industrial Development (1991) The Americans developed an understanding of the challenges as Hungary restructured its industry, privatized its state enterprises, and experimented with foreign joint ventures. Hungarian participants enhanced their understanding of the development of global markets, accompanying changes in strategic and operational management of corporations, and U.S. policies to nurture innovation. SOURCE: NRC Office of Soviet and East European Affairs. 1991. Newsletter (Fall 1991), p. 5.
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape World Bank provided two large loans to strengthen the country’s science and technology infrastructure on a broad basis. Also, as noted in Chapter 1, the early international philanthropic efforts of George Soros were rooted in Hungary and led to several projects of interest to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Although the NRC was not directly involved, its activities were of considerable interest to these organizations; and consultations with the NRC were frequent. YUGOSLAVIA AND ITS SUCCESSOR STATES Among the earliest workshops sponsored by the NRC involving Eastern European academies were several with academies in Yugoslavia. In 1982 a workshop on robotics and prosthetics was organized near Ljubljana with the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Art. In 1985 the Council of Academies of Yugoslavia sent specialists to Washington for a workshop on exposure to heavy metals, and in 1989 the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts organized a joint workshop with the NRC in Zagreb on putting research results into practice. Each of these workshops involved specialists from several regions of the former Yugoslavia. As the country began to divide, organization of workshops became somewhat more diffused. In 1993 a trilateral workshop involving specialists from the United States, Slovenia, and Croatia was held in Washington on research and development and free markets. In 1994 a regional workshop in Trieste organized by the NRC addressed child health and welfare in Yugoslavia (see Box 3-9) as well as practical cross-border steps in this field (see Box 3-10). In 1998 a bilateral workshop in Zagreb was devoted to cooperation opportunities in health. BOX 3-9 Child Health in Yugoslavia (1994) Each specialist from the region discussed the status of children in a specific locale with reference to baseline data from before the war, data currently available, and data needs. The group considered emergency medicine, mental health, mortality and morbidity, and nutrition and disease. Discussions of the infrastructure required for restoring child health focused on damage to hospitals and clinics, disruption of supply networks, and new medical needs. The workshop also considered obligations pursuant to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and addressed professional and ethical standards of pediatricians and other medical personnel. SOURCE: NRC Office for Central Europe and Eurasia. 1994. Newsletter, p. 1.
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Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009: The Changing Landscape BOX 3-10 Cross-Boundary Steps by Physicians in Yugoslavia (1995) Spare parts from Serbia were offered for non-functioning incubators in Zenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and children from Knin were invited to the Children’s Hospital in Zagreb, Croatia. Lessons learned in Yugoslavia could be applied to children in other war zones. SOURCE: Institute of Medicine/NRC. 1995. The Impact of War on Child Health in the Countries of the Former Yugoslavia. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, p. 40. Given the splintering of Yugoslavia into independent states, there was great interest in Washington and in the new countries in establishing interacademy linkages through additional workshops. Many topics were proposed, and exploratory trips to the region were undertaken to set the stage for workshops. However, funding did not materialize to follow through on the many interesting ideas that were on the table. SUSTAINED INTEREST, BUT NO FUNDS Dozens of scientific workshops are being held every year throughout the region with minimal attendance by U.S. specialists. The Eastern European appetite for workshops involving U.S. specialists seems insatiable. The list of topics that are often proposed is long, and the interests among scientists in the United States are manifold. But sources of funding for such activities have been scarce. The U.S. government and private foundations repeatedly argue that since these countries are now part of a unified Europe, U.S. funding for scientific cooperation must be pointed in other directions. At the same time, the region is gaining in scientific strength; and workshops to introduce scientists to one another through discussions of not only scientific issues but also policy and management issues seem to have been a good investment.
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