What is “Science Diplomacy”? Science Diplomacy (SD) is the exchange of Science and Technology across borders. A valuable resource and little understood tool of awareness, understanding, and capacity building, its power is not widely known or considered often enough.
Middle East opinion polls find that while the United States is unpopular, American science and technology is very popular. SD provides a channel in which to “work at the grassroots level on global” and local problems to find solutions to common problems. This interchange and cooperation offers opportunities to protect against diplomatic failure, share organizational capacity, share resources and expertise, inform both sides about the other, and foster understanding between current and future advisors and science and trade negotiators.
Science is a very social endeavor heavy on collaboration with a history of tunneling through borders. Cross border flows between the US and Muslim countries pay dividends through building trust, the creation of informal networks, and the discovery and discussion of life-saving and profitable technologies (not always both at once). Science itself is the lingua franca.
From mediating trade agreements to archeology to water treatment to improving agriculture, SD incorporates the four “E’s” Karen Hughes promoted when she first took office as Undersecretary of State of Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy: engagement, exchanges, education, empowerment. Science and technology provides scientists and researchers access to people, places, and ideas that are critical to success. Not only does this happen through the exchange beyond our borders or through modern communications, but also inside our borders through exchange programs.
Science diplomacy is already hard at work. On May 22 at 4pm there will be a 1hr breakout session at the 2007 Homeland Security Science and Technology Stakeholders Conference that raises the importance, and value, of science diplomacy to both sellers and buyers of Homeland defense technology who may not already know about it. The goal of the breakout session is to emphasize both upstream and downstream effects of cooperation at a conference of science and technology buyers and sellers.
The conference is put on by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) with “key” participation by the Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security.
If you are interested in hearing more about the panel, email me.
Selected links of interest:
- The Art of Science Diplomacy (page 18) by Dr. Paula Dobriansky, Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs (June 2006)
- Time for a New Era of Science Diplomacy (sub req’d) by Kristin M. Lord and Vaughan C. Turekian (9 Feb 07)
- Is Science the Key to the Middle East? by Brent M. Eastwood (1 Feb 07)
- Science on the tap, not on the top by Alexey A. Vikhlyaev, UNCTAD (2005)
- Iraqi Virtual Science Library (ISVL), created at the suggestion of DTRA
- The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library (TEEAL) is a turn-key solution for developing regions with 145 agricultural and related science journals; used extensively in Latin America and Africa
- SHARE Boston (Swiss House for Advanced Research and Education), “part of a global network of Swiss [government] Science & Technology Offices”
- Texas A&M at Qatar (TAMUQ)
- Qatar Science and Technology Park