Saturday, February 6, 2010

Science diplomacy becomes important

Scientists and engineers are often overlooked or underestimated as diplomats. Their work is naturally international, cooperative, and solution-oriented. From nuclear weapons to water purification the tools of contemporary foreign policy are creations of science and technology. More interesting, the emergence of global science has created new professional and information networks focused on transnational issues and goals.

Enhancing and utilizing this capability of S&T has been noticed by the Clinton, Bush, and Obama Administrations. In the fall of 2000, the first Science and Technology Adviser to the US Secretary of State was appointed. This followed the recommendations of a 1999 National Academies report that concluded that many goals of US foreign policy encompass science, technology, and health considerations.

On February 4-5, the University of Southern California's Center on Public Diplomacy held a conference on Science Diplomacy and the Prevention of Conflict. It explored the merits and challenges of science diplomacy, not solely as conducted by the United States, but by nations across the world. Some of the top scholars and practitioners were participants. The proceedings promise to be interesting. There was a report from Syracuse University about its computer science exchanges with North Korea. This program was discussed in an April 2009 Korea Economic Institute paper, Academic Science Engagement with North Korea.

This coming week, on February 9, the Partnership for a Secure America, U.S. Civilian Research & Development Foundation, and American Association for the Advancement of Science will host a reception for the release of a Bipartisan Statement supporting the elevation of Science Diplomacy’s role in U.S. foreign policy. The statement, signed by over two dozen prominent political and scientific leaders, urges the U.S. to utilize its scientific and technological strength to deepen international partnerships and tackle global challenges.

For further research see:
Center for Science, Technology, and Economic Development (CSTED)

Since its founding in 1991, Asia Policy Point has worked with the International Office of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to widen the defense science community's awareness of Asian politics and innovation policy. Many of APP's activities focus on the nexus between S&T and security in Asia. APP Board Member Dr. Norman Neureiter is a leader in this field.

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