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Summary T his report documents how interacademy programs have played a significant role in establishing and maintaining American scientific contacts with colleagues in Eastern Europe prior to and following the lifting of the Iron Curtain. The report also discusses the changing roles of the academies of the region and the changing nature of interacad- emy cooperation that has emerged since 1991. The countries of interest are Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), and the countries that previously were united politically within the framework of the former Yugoslavia. The report should be of interest to officials and specialists in both the United States and the countries of Eastern Europe who are actively engaged in promoting scientific cooperation through bilateral and other channels. Also, an emerging audience for this report is the growing group of analysts in the United States interested in âscience diplomacyâ involv- ing U.S. cooperation with countries that have political agendas that differ in important respects from the objectives of U.S. policies. A key lesson in this regard is that maintaining the scientific integrity of a cooperative pro- gram has been essential in achieving political success as well as advancing international science. Beginning in 1965, several foreign secretaries of the National Acad- emy of Sciences (NAS) decided to try to bring the well established but iso- lated scientific communities of Eastern Europe closer to the mainstream of international science. These NAS officials developed scientific exchange
Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009 BOX S-1 Cooperation as a Scientific and Cultural Experience âI remain convinced of the value of cooperation, not only in a narrow scientific sense but as a broad cultural experience as well. At a time when so many chan- nels of cooperation and communication with Soviet and East European colleagues have shrunk, the interacademy programs assume greater significance than their modest size would suggest. They offer Americans rare opportunities for access and for joint work with scientific colleagues and opportunities for scientists from those countries to visit the United States. But they will command wholehearted participa- tion only if scientists are respected and treated equitably so they can participate in an unfettered manner in cooperation.â Walter Rosenblith, foreign secretary, NAS, 1983. SOURCE: National Research Council (NRC) Office of Soviet and East European Affairs. 1983. Newsletter 5(1). programs based on formal agreements with the academies of sciences of the region. The academies, with the exceptions of those in Yugoslavia and Romania, had adopted the Soviet model of an academy of sciences, which managed most of the leading basic research institutions of the countries. Box S-1 presents the view of one of the foreign secretaries on the purpose of the programs. Interacademy cooperation was based on a quota system, which speci- fied the number of exchange months that were available for sending sci- entists in each direction. These exchange months were divided between long-term visits of up to one year and short-term visits of about one month. The National Science Foundation provided financial support, and therefore the emphasis was on basic research, with agriculture and health projects not generally included. Box S-2 sets forth the quotas in 1978, as an example of the distribution of available resources throughout the region. Leading U.S. and Hungarian scientists carried out a detailed review in 1989 of a decade of exchanges of individual scientists involving Hun- gary, with more limited reviews targeted on other countries as well. The positive impacts of the program with Hungary included the following: â¢ Stimulating fresh scientific perspectives â¢ Exchanging experiences on theoretical and experimental techniques
Summary BOX S-2 Exchange Quotas in 1978 â¢ Bulgaria: 25 person-months in each direction â¢ Czechoslovakia: 55 months â¢ Hungary: 35 months â¢ Poland: 35 months â¢ Romania: 25 months â¢ Yugoslavia: 30 months â¢ GDR: 20 months SOURCE: NRC Office of Soviet and East European Affairs. 1978. Newsletter 1(2):1 and 2(1):1. â¢ Planning and carrying out joint research projects extending beyond the period of exchange â¢ Starting or completing joint papers for publication â¢ Enhancing teaching materials with updated research data â¢ Facilitating interactions between basic and applied researchers â¢ Deepening understanding of relationships among national research priorities, national programs, and international scientific and social trends Criticisms of the program were surprisingly few: Qualifications of a few exchangees were not as strong as might be expected, older scientists tended to dominate exchanges, and the small size of the program inhib- ited flexibility in the selection of exchangees. In the late 1980s, the programs were expanded for about a decade to include more than 30 bilateral workshops involving all of the academies of the region. The workshops were held both in the United States and in the region. Among the most popular topics were energy conservation, environmental protection, education, and industrial management. Box S-3 comments on a successful bilateral workshop, and Box S-4 highlights a regional workshop that contributed immediately to a difficult situation. Following the lifting of the Iron Curtain, the quota system for individ- ual exchanges was terminated by the NAS in a move toward more ânor- malâ modes of cooperation. Beginning in 1993 the NAS carried out annual open regional competitions among American scientists who wanted to work with colleagues in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. This competitive program continued for about 10 years, with more than 200 exchange visitors traveling to and from Eastern Europe. They covered
Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009 BOX S-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. BOX S-4 Cross-Boundary Steps by Physicians in Yugoslavia (1995) At the workshop, spare parts from Serbia were offered for non-functioning incuba- tors in Zenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and children from Knin were invited to the Childrenâs 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. a wide variety of disciplines and involved dozens of institutions in the United States and Eastern Europe. As the region opened its remaining closed doors during the early 1990s, the contacts established through the revised program continued to help many isolated scientists link more fully into the international scientific community. Of course, the positive impacts from individual exchanges usually needed time to materialize; and they were manifested in various ways. They included, for example, joint publications, cur- riculum development, and follow-on visits by the participants, their col- leagues, or their students. Occasionally, however, results were evident almost immediately through presentations at international conferences, drawing on experiences during exchange visits.
Summary During the 1990s other types of programs were also introduced by the NAS. The most ambitious new effort was a series of policy-oriented workshops involving young investigators from the United States and from the region. These workshops were well received in the United States and abroad, and they led to a number of lasting collaborations. Popular topics included environmental protection, worker health protection, and energy conservation. As to other activities, two highly successful 2-week training programs in laboratory analytical techniques involving up to 30 young scientists from the region were organized in Eastern Europe. A few young American scientists interested in studying science policy issues in Eastern Europe were supported. Also, a regional workshop on the intersections of science and democracy was organized in Prague. Most recently regional work- shops on biosecurity were held in Budapest and Warsaw, and a bilateral workshop on innovation systems that had been developed in Poland and the United States was organized in Washington. Activities supported by the NAS, while only a small part of the over- all scientific relationships between the United States and Eastern Europe, have undoubtedly had a positive effect on international science. Also, they have supported the transformation of centrally planned economies to market-oriented approaches and to new scientific relations between East and West. Eastern Europe is a unique cluster of middle-income countries with strong educational and scientific capabilities. These strengths are embod- ied, for example, in Charles University in Prague, in the Szeged Biological Center in Hungary, in the Center for Mathematics and Computational Modeling of Warsaw University, and in the Bucharest Polytechnical Uni- versity. Indeed, many excellent institutions of the region have long his- tories of scientific interchange with the United States. Also, the strategic location of the area is obvious; and the time for science diplomacy has not ended. It is continuing. The Eastern European desire to strengthen partnerships with U.S. col- leagues is omnipresent. Considerable funding for research from Brussels has oriented much of the scientific enterprise in Eastern Europe toward cooperation with partners on the same side of the ocean. But such coop- eration is sometimes described by the Eastern European beneficiaries as a low-cost alternative to not having adequate financial support to work with American colleagues. At low cost, the NAS could sponsor annual regional scientific meet- ings in Europe, rotating from capital to capital. Such forums, organized in cooperation with interested academies and co-funded by these acad- emies, could provide opportunities to exchange up-to-date information on scientific advances in selected fields, trends in efforts to promote
Interacademy Programs Between the United States and Eastern Europe 1967-2009 sustainable knowledge-based economies, and mechanisms to expand scientist-to-scientist cooperation. The scientific and political payoff from such high visibility demonstrations of U.S. interest in the region would be substantial.