Science diplomacy is not new, even though it has recently seen a significant surge of interest. For many years, governments and individuals have realized, and acted on, the value of science in furthering relationships, although these actions have often not been identified as science diplomacy.
Science diplomacy is a term now used to describe a variety of activities and often implies different things to different people; discussants suggested that this lack of clarity can sometimes be a disadvantage. Most workshop participants acknowledged that while science diplomacy is closely related to the topic of global science cooperation, addressed in the first part of the workshop and of this report, the two terms are not identical and should not be used interchangeably. They stressed the importance of clarity and transparency with regard to the motivations for various activities that have been described by the term science diplomacy, and simultaneously acknowledged the difficulties in arriving at a single definition of the term and in defining boundaries that should be drawn between science cooperation and science diplomacy.
Lama Youssef of Syria pointed out that according to Webster’s Dictionary, diplomacy is defined as “the art and practice of conducting negotiations between nations” and also as “a skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility.” Those two are quite different definitions with different implications. Since a primary meaning of diplomacy is as an instrument of governments, some understand science diplomacy as a way to pursue a national agenda, or otherwise stated, a component of
Clarity and transparency are important. The kinds of things many of us are doing can help in improving people’s lives. But it is not always clear that it is a good idea to label it “diplomacy.”
John Boright, Executive Director, International Affairs, U.S. NAS
Diplomacy is also seen as the science or art of avoiding difficulties and successfully engaging in a dialogue with others; thus, it is not surprising that many workshop participants regarded science diplomacy as a useful means of global engagement. As Vaughan Turekian stated, science is a good way to engage with people from other countries, because it provides a common language, is collaborative, addresses major societal challenges, and is based on common methods (peer review, for example). But participants noted that, at the same time, global scientific engagement, if called diplomacy, can be problematic for many U.S. governmental agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), which have mandates to advance science—but not foreign policy. Therefore, there are advantages to using the simple, and accurate, label of advancing science through international cooperation.
Norman Neureiter, first science and technology advisor to the U.S. secretary of state, warned against defining science diplomacy exclusively by the words science and diplomacy together. Instead, it is a more complex concept and can be understood better by considering examples. Several examples from Neureiter’s and others’ extensive experience in international engagement are mentioned in the section “What Has Been Done with Science Diplomacy?” in this chapter.
Hernan Chaimovich from Brazil voiced concern about the definition of science diplomacy used in the United States because it implies the existence of a conflict. This, he observed, can result in less focus on scientific exchanges with regions such as Latin America and South America, where engagement is highly desirable.
Several times during the workshop, participants referred to the Royal Society and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) report New Frontiers in Science Diplomacy (2010)1, which presents a proposed set of three roles related to science diplomacy:
1. Informing foreign policy objectives with scientific advice (science in diplomacy)
Science can be used to inform diplomatic decisions or agreements, which can be called science in diplomacy. In this case, a science study can set out the relevant evidence to help solve a disagreement between two countries.
2. Facilitating international science cooperation (diplomacy for science)
This role often refers to flagship international projects in which nations come together to collaborate on high-cost, high-risk scientific projects that otherwise could not be conducted. But it also refers to the set of policies, such as those governing international travel, that facilitate international science cooperation.
3. Using science cooperation to improve international relations between countries (science for diplomacy)
This role refers to the use of science as a means to improve strained relations between different countries. Science cooperation agreements and joint commissions between the United States and the Soviet Union (USSR) or China during the cold war are examples of the role science and scientists can play in diplomacy.
Participants suggested that a way to frame science diplomacy is to identify possible actors. Several felt that when discussing science diplomacy, one generally emphasizes the important role of the government. James Herrington praised the efforts in the 1960s by Congressman John Fogarty, who pushed for a global agenda in medical research and public
1The Royal Society and AAAS. 2010. New Frontiers in Science Diplomacy. London: The Royal Society.
health. Herrington deplored the scarcity of people with Fogarty’s vision today. Jason Rao, senior policy advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, also recognized government’s essential role. He noted that much of the government policy framework is still stuck in the cold war, which makes actions on the ground difficult. However, at the same time, there is recognition at the highest level of the U.S. administration that the challenges mentioned in this discussion are the grand challenges of today.
Hernan Chaimovich also suggested that science diplomacy is done by the state, and while science can be a tool for diplomacy, it is part of a government’s policy. According to him, the problem we are facing today is the relationship between a government’s policy and the agencies that are effectively engaged with scientific cooperation, including the private sector. As an example, he referred to the stagnant budget of NSF’s international division over the past few years, which appears to be mainly due to policy issues.
Several participants underlined the importance of funding. Daniel Goroff of the Sloan Foundation stated that science and scientific knowledge are a public good, which by definition is nonexcludable and non-rival, meaning that no one can be excluded from using it, and its “consumption” by one individual does not reduce its availability to another individual. Most people expect it to be free, but in fact, it does have a cost. Therefore, it takes collective will and organization to make science happen.
Another question was about whether the corporate world was doing science. Vaughan Turekian stated that “governments and metascience organizations (academies, associations, and so on) do science diplomacy, scientists do science, and businesses do business.” One comment was that a science component in governmental diplomacy is valuable, but science must still be real science; it must be true to the scientific method, for example, not using selected evidence to reach a desired conclusion. Susan Gardner of the U.S. Department of State observed that although businesses do indeed focus on business, their activity can influence relationships and interstate diplomatic outcomes positively or negatively. This and several other examples and comments emphasized the scale, effect, and importance of science and technology efforts outside of government.
Participants offered examples where science diplomacy was valuable and where interactions among scientists, whether in the government, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), or the private sector, contrib-
uted to building bridges and addressing common problems. Several participants suggested implementation principles, including clarity and transparency of goals; focusing on clear, common interests; sustained cooperative relationships with individuals and institutions; and the importance of involving young participants.
Workshop participants provided many examples illustrating the role that science can play in building bridges between nations. U.S.–USSR, U.S.–Japan, and U.S.–China cooperation was mentioned by several as a means of moving away from hostile relationships.
Norman Neureiter recalled that in 1961, as the nuclear arsenals were building up, scientists from the United States and Russia met privately to discuss how to prevent a nuclear catastrophe. In the same year, Edwin O. Reischauer, appointed as the U.S. ambassador to Japan by President Kennedy, helped initiate scientific exchanges through the U.S.–Japan Joint Committee on Scientific Cooperation at a moment of “broken dialogue” between the two intellectual communities. This joint committee is still operating today and is a classic example of successful science diplomacy.
Neureiter also reviewed President Nixon’s historic 1972 diplomatic visit to China, noting its contribution to the normalization of relations between the two countries and stressing that science played an important role in that achievement. Neureiter, who was at that time the assistant for international affairs for President Nixon’s science advisor, worked with the National Academy of Sciences on a previously established Committee on Scholarly Communications with China and produced several initiatives for science cooperation that were part of the diplomatic package discussed with the Chinese government.
Another example is the 1972 Moscow summit with President Nixon and Russian President Brezhnev, which led to the creation of a joint committee on science cooperation that resulted in seven science agreements. Unfortunately, U.S.–USSR science cooperation was cut off under President Jimmy Carter after Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan. As Norman Neureiter noted, science was the driver in these programs, but results were achieved both at the scientific and at the diplomatic levels. This can still be done today, with the United States continuing to face many challenges in engaging the world.
David Hamburg, president emeritus of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, added to the historical perspectives on the important role
of dialogue among scientists in reducing the threat posed by superpower confrontation. He noted that at times the science community was ahead of foreign policy leaders in demonstrating that value. For example, Hamburg was involved in discussions related to the Cuban missile crisis and consideration of communication steps aimed at prevention of a nuclear catastrophe. He recalled numerous discussions between scientists and policy makers and the important role they played in analyzing the crisis at that moment and setting approaches and practices for minimizing the risks of future confrontations. The scientific community remained closely involved in bridging the gap created during the cold war and was particularly helpful during Gorbachev’s presidency as he was attempting to change Soviet policies. During Hamburg’s presidency of the Carnegie Corporation, he participated in the creation of Carnegie commissions such as the Commission on Science, Technology, and Government in 1988 and the Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict in 1994, subsequent to the deadly war in the former Yugoslavia.
After the end of the cold war, he said, the science aspect of U.S. diplomacy was considerably less dramatic. But in recent years, it is once again becoming increasingly clear that science is a valuable way to engage more actively with nations that have strained or complex relations with the United States, such as Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, and Myanmar. Science is once again being used as a bridge-building strategy.
This is also true when science diplomacy is applied to bridging the societal domain (governance, economy, and values) and the natural domain (ecosystem, water quality, and water quantity) said Shafiqul Islam of Tufts University. He underlined the importance of building interdisciplinary teams and cited the program in water and diplomacy at Tufts University as a successful model, mainly because it created a network of complementary teams from different parts of the world.
Emerging nations such as Rwanda can act as ambassadors for science and play an active role in promoting it nationally and internationally, suggested Romain Murenzi, former minister of science, technology, and scientific research for Rwanda. Rwanda’s government has a strong belief in the important role of science, technology, and information and communication technologies (ICT) in transforming the country from an agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. Murenzi highlighted the personal commitment of Rwanda’s president, His Excellency Paul Kagame, who gave keynote addresses at meetings of the Royal Society, AAAS, and the U.S. Department of State and pointed toward the Rwandan Integrated ICT-led Socio-Economic Development Policy
and Plan and the work of the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. Murenzi then reiterated the role of the private sector and corporate partnerships in building science and technology capabilities.
Workshop presentations and discussions on barriers to progress and best practices for advancing science in the global context and for science diplomacy were very similar. Participants suggested several barriers to progress that are also encountered in science diplomacy.
The U.S. government has been actively undertaking science diplomacy efforts in the last few years. Some participants stated that these efforts are most important when there are difficult governmental relationships, which can lead to sensitivity as to the motivation behind these efforts. They noted that the limitations on U.S. use of science in diplomacy are often long-standing policies and laws that were motivated originally and primarily by a concern for control of technology, whereas now what seems most needed is engagement and the embrace of competition. This is particularly salient in unnecessarily cumbersome mobility controls, that is, visas and travel restrictions.
Foreign professionals were described as often being of two minds: They value collaborating with U.S. counterparts, yet many are also apprehensive about attending conferences within the United States because of visa uncertainties and difficulties, and security controls. Science envoy Gebisa Ejeta noted that implementation of controls in the United States since September 11, 2001, has been very discouraging and has stifled its global engagement capacities. Several workshop participants also noted that U.S. policies ought to recognize that effective competition raises the bar for everyone and serves as a major source of future opportunities.
Many participants emphasized the importance of the private sector in global science and technology engagement. As Eric Bone of the U.S. Department of State observed, partnerships with the private sector are essential, and science diplomacy should not be restricted to a
government-to-government exercise. Unfortunately, capacity for this type of partnership is weak in the developing world, noted Gebisa Ejeta. A related impediment, he said, is that existing policy and regulatory frameworks have been perceived by some as biased towards the developed world. This is particularly relevant to intellectual property rights, such as the ones generated by the 1985 Utility Patent Act for biological agents and products. This act encouraged the heavy infusion of financial resources to private-sector research in the field of molecular biology. It also resulted inadvertently in a significant reduction in public research spending in both developed and developing countries. These new investments in the private sector triggered a rush of patenting, in some cases fueling misunderstandings among poor and rich nations. Ejeta added that public–private partnerships in the developed world also need to be revisited. For example, increases of private investments in agricultural biotechnology are associated generally with decreased public spending, thus creating an unhealthy imbalance.
Despite the many efforts put forward by the U.S. government, the discussion identified difficulties for foreign organizations in engaging U.S. governmental science agencies. Discussion leader Michael Clegg pointed to the diversity and the structural complexity of the U.S. science agencies and the lack of mechanisms for coordinating and integrating diplomatic activities undertaken by the government, businesses, and NGOs. Existing bureaucratic diversity and inflexibility, he said, often makes communication with U.S. agencies difficult and inhibits science diplomacy endeavors. Eric Bone also noted the disconnect between the form that science diplomacy is taking today and the current organizational structure.
Volker ter Meulen, of University of Würzburg and former president of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, underlined the common inflexibility in decision-making processes and described a political culture of “short-termism” among policy makers, where science is expected to provide easy answers quickly and contribute on short notice to single issues. Instead, he suggested building longer-term relationships between scientific and political communities based on trust and mutual confidence. He also noted the importance of creating and maintaining flexibility in political decision making and of being “prepared for the unexpected” to be able to deal with future developments and a changing evidence base.
Another barrier that was identified by several workshop participants is the lack of incentives in both the U.S. government and academia for the participation of U.S. professionals in international science. Gebisa Ejeta observed that scientific achievements enabled by global collaborations are often not credited appropriately, and for most academic leaders, engagement in international development is undertaken at the expense of their domestic responsibilities. Several workshop participants also highlighted the importance of engaging scientists in diplomatic conversations. They emphasized the need for more science attachés in U.S. embassies and suggested implementing a better structure within the State Department to make it easy, attractive, and useful for people from the science community to serve as science attachés.
We need more people from the science community to work within the Department of State.
Eric Bone, Senior Scientist and Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of State
A serious lack of human capital, coherent national science and technology strategies, and research infrastructures in potentially partnering countries was identified by some workshop participants as an important barrier to more effective international engagement. Gebisa Ejeta and others stated that weak human capacity, in part owing to brain drain, and the lack of adequate research infrastructure in developing countries has too often derailed promising science-based developments or worse, prevented their successful exploitation.
Ejeta also underlined the differences in goals and aspirations between institutions in the United States and those in developing countries that often create an awkward dialogue about the objectives of collaborative partnerships. Most of the advanced research institutions in the developed world aim at creating a global public good; in contrast, research centers in most developing countries focus on the development of locally needed products and services. Nevertheless, he believed that the two goals are mutually supportive, and if the parties communicate and work together, a win-win scenario often can be reached. He also noted an overreliance in developing countries on external funding to capitalize on
science diplomacy and global science cooperation opportunities, which is, of course, largely because of insufficient local resource commitment to science. There is a shortage of functional research centers and science support architecture such as science and technology commissions, merit-based funding mechanisms, or science academies in the developing world.2 Several participants identified building such structures as an important goal of science diplomacy.
Many workshop participants underlined the failure of scientists to effectively engage policy makers and the public in understanding the role of science and its potential value in diplomacy and in development.
According to Volker ter Meulen, the main challenges are the lack of a unified voice to speak on behalf of science and the lack of experience within the political institutions to use science and effectively communicate with the science community. This challenge is often compounded by the multiplicity of other voices in a crowded world. In a very complicated diplomatic system, involving NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, media, and new communication modes and networks, the scientific community must learn how to inform and engage more effectively with all these groups and governments. Furthermore, several participants underscored the importance of recognizing that many of the major policy challenges require science in diplomacy across a broad front. For example, tackling the Millennium Development Goals requires understanding and action on food, health, and the environment, which involves multiple government departments
The scientific community needs to understand the dynamics of the increasingly complex diplomatic system and make sure that the science voice is heard.
Volker ter Meulen, former President, German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
2While not every country has a science academy, the number is growing. The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) is an autonomous international organization whose principal aim is to promote scientific capacity and excellence for sustainable development in the South ( http://twas.ictp.it/).
There is also the Inter-Academy Panel (IAP), a global network of the world’s science academies launched in 1993. Its primary goal is to help member academies work together to advise citizens and public officials on the scientific aspects of critical global issues.” (http://www.interacademies.net/)
and requires a coherent and integrated policy. Unfortunately, noted one discussant, there are often organizational barriers within and between governments, in addition to the low public understanding and support for such policies.
Some workshop participants felt that another challenge to effective science diplomacy is the failure of governments to implement commitments made in bilateral, summit, and other meetings, thus undermining the credibility of the science diplomacy process. As observed by Michael Clegg, the United States and other advanced nations make commitments that they do not always honor. For example, unmet expectations of U.S. agency participation in joint projects of the U.S.–Mexico Foundation for Science, created by good intentions, have led to an awkward situation between the two partners. Larry Weber of NSF noted a similar situation after the U.S. government put forward a broad Middle Eastern agenda, fueling large expectations in the Arab and Muslim worlds. Considerable efforts and progress have been made, yet financial support was insufficient to meet high expectations created by publicly announced agendas.
New is not always better; we may want to do more of what we have always done well.
Gebisa Ejeta, Distinguished Professor of Agronomy, Purdue University, and U.S. Science Envoy
There may be too much of a tendency to assume that new initiatives are needed, noted Gebisa Ejeta. In many cases there are already existing programs and agencies for international cooperation that have important goals and have built capabilities but do not have enough resources, and it may be effective to provide the programs already in place with needed resources.
Workshop participants suggested a variety of ways to improve current and future science diplomacy efforts, some of which are described below. These suggestions came from individual participants and do not represent a consensus of the workshop attendees or the committee.
Several participants believed that there is a need for better partnerships between the government, the private sector, universities, and NGOs, in both the developed and the developing world. C. D. Mote Jr. and others promoted revisiting the government-university partnership articulated in Vannevar Bush’s Science: The Endless Frontier, in light of the global challenges we are facing in the twenty-first century, the large private-sector role in technology transfer, and the global nature of contemporary scientific inquiry.
For developing countries, Abdul Hamid Zakri, science advisor to the prime minister of Malaysia, noted the increasing number of U.S. companies with branches and operations and many technical employees in the developing world. These companies could collaborate easily with local universities and thus further capacity building in developing countries.
Many participants underscored the role of young people, describing existing and potential ways to involve them in science diplomacy efforts. Marvadeen Singh-Wilmot of Jamaica told of the creation of a Young Scientist Ambassador Program (YSAP, see Box 1-1) in 2010, aimed at bridging the international scientific gap by facilitating cultural and scientific interactions through the ambassadorship of young scientists. The YSAP itself grew out of the InterAcademy Panel program that involves young scientists in the World Economic Forum Summer Davos Program. The U.S. NAS Kavli Frontiers of Science symposia for leading young U.S. and foreign scientists was given as another example. Some of the early career workshop participants also noted that it is important to recognize and make efficient use of the increasing role of social media as a communication tool, especially among younger generations. For example, through the Young Scientist Volunteer Program (YSVP), early career scientists use social media forums (such as Facebook) to share scientific papers or analytical data among each other. One reason given for the importance of such programs is the huge demographic bulge of youth in many countries.
Abdul Hamid Zakri and other participants emphasized the value of greater scientific expertise within the Foreign Service and the State
Department. They encouraged the appointment of science attachés to U.S. embassies and suggested making this effort symmetrical in order to build sustainable relationships, thus encouraging developing countries to appoint science attachés in their embassies as well. It is important to make this career choice attractive and professionally relevant for scientists. As Rita Colwell pointed out, working on very good and real problems “might not get you the Nobel science prize, but [it could get you] the Nobel peace prize.” She also suggested that, given modern communications capabilities, in some cases the most effective way of strengthening the science and technology capacity at U.S. embassies is by a series of short-term visits from U.S. technical agency representatives, instead of a multiyear assignment of one science officer.
Many participants recognized that the U.S. science agency architecture is very complex and diverse. U.S. agencies have to operate within constraints, such as restrictions on spending outside of the United States, and overall flat or decreasing funding, making innovative international collaboration difficult. “Form has to follow function,” said Cutberto Garza, which means that these constraints need to be addressed so that we can move forward and make it more straightforward for our partners to collaborate with U.S. agencies.
In several cases, participants noted specific global challenges, such as creating food security, meeting energy needs, adjusting to climate change, and controlling infectious disease, that require collective action. Khotso Mokhele noted various ways in which the U.S. policy and science system could gain significantly from embracing the emergence of new major centers of research in other parts of the world and the consequent healthy scientific competition. He suggested that instead of remaining hobbled by outdated restrictions reflecting circumstances and security concerns of past decades, the U.S. system should rise to the challenge by becoming
We are in a different world; let us embrace it as a positive development for humankind.
Khotso Mokhele, former President of South Africa’s National Research Foundation
more attractive; this includes reducing mobility constraints on incoming students, visitors, and scholars and revising the current visa system, perhaps requiring new Congressional action, as suggested by Rita Colwell.
Azamat Abdymomunov, former vice minister of education and science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, underlined the need for a stronger emphasis on science and technology in higher education and professional development. He added that meeting this need is crucial to economic development and other important goals of science diplomacy. Unfortunately, in some developing countries, higher education is separated from research and, instead of providing opportunities to develop relevant skills for the modern workplace, or even more for innovation and job creation, higher education is limited to being a buffer zone between high school and labor-force entry. As a result, many young people seek to enter the labor force without the necessary professional skills or experiences. And, as observed by Abdymomunov, “a young frustrated, unemployed person can be as dangerous as a nuclear physicist or a bioweapons engineer.”
Cutberto Garza noted that in the United States there is a need for better preparation for the globalized world, including science diplomacy opportunities. Despite English being the language of science, there should be more emphasis on making Americans more culturally and linguistically aware and globally skilled to both engage effectively and compete effectively in the twenty-first century. There is also a need to develop new communication tools, so that scientists and science programs can reach out to non-anglophone communities, said Mohamed Behnassi of Morocco.
Several workshop participants noted that scientists need to develop appropriate communication skills and experiences to engage domestic and international politicians and the public more effectively. One participant suggested publishing science diplomacy-related articles in foreign affairs journals instead of scientific journals, to expose politicians and the public to the importance of science in international affairs, and to the significance of what is currently being done. Furthermore, Hernan Chaimovich stated that science diplomacy and leadership can help con-
vey that science literacy is a vital part of general education in globalized, knowledge-driven economies, and key to national success and cultural independence.
Participants from some developing countries noted that there often is an unmet need to strengthen a science culture and help position science appropriately within civil society. “In my part of the world, science and scientists have no status,” said Marvadeeen Singh-Wilmot. She asked outstanding U.S. scientists to visit developing countries and bring the importance of science to public attention. In many developing countries, sustained cooperative activities and frequent exchanges will be needed to maintain momentum and finally build a science culture.
We need outstanding scientists from the United States to come to our countries and bombard the people and the children with science. Let them know that science has answers.
Marvadeeen Singh-Wilmot, Professor of Chemistry, University of the West Indies, Jamaica
Abdul Hamid Zakri and other participants called for the creation of centers of excellence that would focus on the interface of science and policy. Lama Youssef added that the discourse on science diplomacy should not only be based on emotions but be based mainly on research to see whether it is efficient.
Many participants reiterated the importance of clarity, transparency, and directness in the science diplomacy process: We need to be selective in choosing clear terms to explain what we are doing and why. Azamat Abdymomunov suggested clearly defining and communicating national interests to partners, to avoid future misunderstandings and contribute to building mutual trust.
During the last session, participants reflected on issues that were raised during the two days of the workshop. They noted that there was a substantial overlap between the applications of global science and science diplomacy, while recognizing the importance of distinguishing between the two types of endeavors and clearly communicating the motivations behind each.
This page intentionally left blank.