The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) announced its new quarterly publication about Science Diplomacy, Cultures in a Jan. 13, 2014 news release found on EurekAlert,
The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) announces a new quarterly publication, Cultures, that explores the intersection of science, policy, and the global challenges we all share by bringing diverse voices to a common platform.
Each issue will feature articles and interviews focused around a central global theme. The inaugural issue explores the question, “What is the role of scientists in addressing today’s global challenges?” Drs. Bruce Alberts, John Holdren, and Gebisa Ejeta speak from their unique perspectives on diplomacy, climate change, and food security. In addition to these pieces, the issue features an interview with past ASM President Dr. Jo Handelsman, an essay by eight ASM Young Ambassadors of Science, and a sister society contribution by the American Chemical Society.
While the American Society for Microbiology wouldn’t be my first guess if asked which organization might publish a journal focused on science and diplomacy, I find it intriguing and you can find this new open access journal here.
For anyone who’s not entirely certain what the term ‘science diplomacy’ entails, there’s this description on Wikipedia (Note: Links have been removed),
Science diplomacy is the use of scientific collaborations among nations to address common problems and to build constructive international partnerships. Many experts and groups use a variety of definitions for science diplomacy. However, science diplomacy has become an umbrella term to describe a number of formal or informal technical, research-based, academic or engineering exchanges.
In January 2010, the Royal Society [UK] and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) noted that “science diplomacy” refers to three main types of activities:
“Science in diplomacy”: Science can provide advice to inform and support foreign policy objectives.
“Diplomacy for science”: Diplomacy can facilitate international scientific cooperation.
“Science for diplomacy”: Scientific cooperation can improve international relations.
Before the term science diplomacy was coined, such initiatives—-in the United States—were often called “smart power” or “soft power” by those in the field. The term, “soft power,” was coined by Joseph Nye of Harvard University in a 1990 book, Bound to Lead: The Changing Nature of American Power. In an editorial in the Washington Post that he cowrote with Richard Armitage, he said, “In a changing world, the United States should become a smarter power by once again investing in the global good — by providing things that people and governments want but cannot attain without U.S. leadership. By complementing U.S. military and economic strength with greater investments in soft power, Washington can build the framework to tackle tough global challenges.” His notion of “smart power” became popular with the term’s use by members of the Clinton administration, and more recently the Obama Administration. However, the Obama Administration also uses the term science diplomacy.
The AAAS has a Center for Science Diplomacy which amongst other activities publishes a quarterly journal, Science & Diplomacy. For a perspective on science diplomacy as practiced in the US, there’s a very interesting Aug. 23, 2013 Guardian blog post by Audra J. Wolfe, writer, editor and historian based in Philadelphia, (Note: Links have been removed),
The Obama Administration has embraced the concept of science diplomacy as a way to bridge cultural and economic gaps between the United States and the rest of the world. The director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, John P Holdren, regularly meets with his science policy counterparts from Brazil, China, India, Japan, Korea and Russia. The US State Department has sent a series of American scientists abroad as “Science Envoys” in hopes of using scientific relationships as an olive branch to the Muslim world. Since 2009, these science envoys, acting as private citizens, have collectively visited almost 20 countries, including Indonesia, Morocco, Bangladesh, Kazahkstan and pre-revolution Egypt.
This new interest in science diplomacy is at least partially explained by the nature of contemporary global problems: issues of resource distribution, climate change, and uneven economic growth can only be solved with input from science. …
Wolfe also notes this,
But science diplomacy programmes also draw on a long tradition that holds science and scientists as uniquely qualified to spread American ideals. In the 1960s (the last time that the United States made a sustained effort to use science diplomacy to build international partnerships), the concept was marred by ties to propaganda campaigns and intelligence operations.
Her discussion of what happened in the 1960s vis à vis science diplomacy is well worth reading especially as she points to some unfortunate parallels with the current efforts (Note: Links have been removed),
The Obama administration’s resurrection of the concept of science diplomacy offers enormous potential. But, once again, the intelligence establishment has found in science diplomacy a convenient cover for its own needs. The CIA’s use of a fake vaccination campaign in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the subsequent withdrawal of aid workers from Pakistan over fears for their safety, are all too familiar. Once again, covert operations are threatening to derail genuinely helpful, hopeful activities that might otherwise go a long way toward building international goodwill.
For all that Wolfe critiques past and present efforts, she does end with a hopeful exhortation, “This time, science diplomacy is worth doing right.”
As part of the US science diplomacy efforts, the current US administration has been appointing science envoys. The latest batch are (according to a Nov. 8, 2012 US State Department news release,
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton today, at an event on Wildlife Trafficking and Conservation: A Call to Action, announced the appointment of three new science envoys: Professor Bernard Amadei, Professor Susan Hockfield, and Professor Barbara Schaal.
These preeminent scientists will seek to deepen existing ties, foster new relationships with foreign counterparts and discuss potential areas of collaboration that will help address global challenges and realize shared goals. The Science Envoys travel in their capacity as private citizens and advise the White House, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. scientific community about the insights they gain from their travels and interactions.
The Science Envoy program demonstrates the United States continued commitment to science, technology, and innovation as tools of diplomacy. As Secretary Clinton stated in her remarks at a Department event, Wildlife Trafficking and Conservation: A Call to Action, “Building scientific partnerships is an important tool in addressing such global challenges. …
These three scientists represent the third cohort of Science Envoys since the program’s inception in 2009. Previous cohorts have visited 19 countries, including Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan.
Dr. Bernard Amadei holds the Mortenson Endowed Chair in Global Engineering and is Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Having earned his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley his main research and teaching interests have focused on rock mechanics and engineering geology. Among his many distinctions, Dr. Amadei is the founding president of Engineers Without Borders and is an elected member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.
Dr. Susan Hockfield has served recently as president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she remains on the Neuroscience faculty. She also serves as the Marie Curie Visiting Professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School. She earned her Ph.D. at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and has focused her research on brain development and a specific form of brain cancer. Dr. Hockfield has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Barbara Schaal earned her Ph.D. in biology from Yale University and is the Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor at the Washington University in St. Louis in the Department of Biology. She is recognized for her work in evolutionary biology, particularly for studies that use DNA sequences to understand evolutionary biology. She holds the distinction of being the first woman elected to the vice presidency of the National Academy of Sciences and is a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
While the US science diplomacy effort seems to have its beginnings in the 1960s, the effort in the UK appears to be altogether newer as David D. Clary, former chief scientific adviser to the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office ,writes in his Sept. 2013 article for Science & Diplomacy,
On March 29, 2009, I heard the prime minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown, give the Romanes Lecture in the historic Sheldonian Theatre at the University of Oxford. Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill are among those who have given this highly prestigious lecture. Brown chose the title “Science and Our Economic Future.” He gave the lecture in the middle of the economic crisis and he stated that “it is science above all that can give us hope.” He also announced that he was creating a new role of chief scientific adviser (CSA) to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), who would be involved in “bringing science to international policy making and diplomacy.”
A few days later, a search agency asked me if I would be interested in becoming this first CSA.
While this specific post seems to be relatively new, there is a longstanding tradition within the UK government of having science advisers for specific departments so this to be an extension of their ongoing science advice programmes into the realm of foreign affairs.
As for Clary and the new role, he notes that is was a part-time position and in common with his US counterparts he traveled throughout the world (from the article)
I was delighted to be able to work with the UK Science and Innovation Network, which is a unique organization placing about ninety officers in UK embassies and high commissions in twenty-five countries. The network is involved with enhancing international relations through scientific collaborations between the UK and other countries. I was pleased to champion this organization’s excellent work and made visits to eighteen countries to promote its various projects. Scientific interactions with emerging economies were a priority. In Istanbul I launched a new Knowledge Partnership between the UK and Turkey together with Vince Cable, the UK secretary of state for business innovation and skills. In similar visits to Delhi, Medellín, Nanjing, Ottawa, Singapore, and other cities, I saw exciting collaborative scientific initiatives across the continents.
Amongst his many other activities, Clary visited Ottawa (Canada). From an April 17, 2012 posting on Nicole Arbour’s UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Ottawa) blog (Note: Links have been removed),
Prof. David Clary (his blog), Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA) to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) recently visited Ottawa, on the invitation of the Office of the Auditor General(@OAG_BVG) to participate in a Science Forum, looking at how science can be used to better inform policy, in times of austerity.
Part of this involved discussions of how science advice to government was done in the UK, and the role of CSAs in advising the UK government during the recent budget reforms. The overall event went very well and was attended by an excellent cast of Canadian science and policy characters ….
Here’s a video of David Clary discussing his trip to Ottawa in 2012 (from Arbour’s April 17, 2012 posting),
I was not able to find any additional details about Clary’s visit although I do note his mention of marine resources and future UK/Canada efforts in the context of a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Dec. 9, 2013 online news item about science diplomacy and the Arctic,
Arctic claim process melds science, diplomacy
At issue is claim to oil and gas in seabed under Arctic continental shelf
Canada filed its claim for a portion of the continental shelf under the Arctic Ocean with the UN Conventional on the Law of the Sea on Friday. The problem is that other countries, including Russia, Denmark and Norway, are making the same claims to parts of the seabed that could be a rich source of resources.
All the parties involved have said they will follow international law and they’ve agreed that science must underlie the process. One of the roles of the UN commission will be to doublecheck the science that each country has submitted and then there is much diplomacy and negotiation ahead.
Then all the parties making claims have pledged to negotiate in good faith and in a timely manner over this vast swath of territory, most of it covered with ice yearround.
“We know that you can have the best kinds of international law, best processes set out, but politics often intervene and that’s of course, what everyone is most concerned about in this contest,” Huebert [Rob Huebert,associate director at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary] said.
Huebert said it would be foolish for environmental groups to object to this process on the grounds that oil and gas exploration should not take place in Arctic waters.
Too many other countries want a piece of Arctic resources and Canada can only protect the region if its claim holds up, he said.
If you don’t establish boundaries over who owns the soil and subsoil, then what happens when some of these other countries that are a very interested in the region – like China, South Korea, Japan, would you then start having a free-for-all,” he said.
While the CBC news item does not mention the UK in this context, China, Korea, Japan, India, Singapore, and Italy all received observer status to the intergovernmental group the Arctic Council in May 2013 according to a May 16, 2013 article by Alex Blackburne for blueandgreentomorrow.com,
China, Japan and South Korea are among six countries that have this week been granted observer status within intergovernmental group the Arctic Council.
The organisation, whose only members are Iceland, Norway, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the US, has previously not allowed non-northern regions to join.
But the promotion of the three Asian nations – as well as India, Singapore and Italy – to observer status signals a change in strategy.
“There is no such thing as a free lunch”, said Norwegian foreign minister Espen Barth Eide.
“By becoming an observer you’re also signing up to the principles embodied by this organisation, and that is why we have been working hard to make that happen.”
Experts say 13% of the world’s oil reserves are found in the Arctic, as well as 30% of as yet undiscovered gas deposits.
Getting back to the UK science diplomacy effort for a moment, Clary;s term as chief science adviser to the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has ended and there is a new appointee according to a Feb. 7, 2013 UK government news release,
Professor Robin Grimes has been appointed as the new Chief Scientific Adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, starting in February 2013.
Professor Grimes is currently Professor of Materials Physics at Imperial College, Director of the Centre for Nuclear Engineering at Imperial College, and Director of the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre for Nuclear Engineering. He is a Fellow of several learned societies including the Institution of Nuclear Engineers and the Institute of Physics.
As a nuclear energy specialist, Professor Grimes has advised the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into nuclear research requirements, and was part of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) which provided official advice on the 2011 Fukushima disaster. He has considerable experience of high-level international work with HMG science and policy colleagues, including overseas missions to Vietnam, Malaysia and Japan.
Working as part of a Whitehall network of Departmental Chief Scientific Advisers, and drawing on the support of the HMG Science and Innovation Network, the FCO Chief Scientific Adviser provides advice to the Foreign Secretary, Ministers and officials on science and innovation in foreign policy across the FCO’s three priorities (Prosperity, Security, Consular Services).
The FCO Chief Scientific Adviser enhances departmental capability to strengthen key policies with scientific evidence (e.g. around climate change and energy, counter-proliferation and polar regions), broadens the UK diplomatic contact network in the scientific community, and creates opportunities for constructive engagement with high-tech business in support of UK prosperity and growth.
As the UK has a science adviser who travels on behalf of its foreign office and the US sends out science envoys on behalf of the US government, Canada (despite the title of the CBC news item) does not have a comparable science diplomacy effort. After all the 5th annual Canadian Science Policy Conference (November 20 -22, 2013), advertised their Science Diplomacy workshop with these words,
This symposium is a first of its kind in Canada, and intends to initiate a dialogue on science diplomacy and raise awareness about its importance.
Canada has huge potential to become a global player in the area of science and technology. By mobilizing its resources in the area of science diplomacy, Canada can strengthen its position internationally and benefit both economically and politically.
With one of the most diverse scientific communities in the world, Canada has a huge potential to tap into this resource in order to:
•Increase its ties in science and technology with the international community
•Use its diaspora scientist communities as Canada’s science and innovation ambassadors
•Strengthen Canada’s global position as a powerhouse of science and technology
Canada will also benefit by learning from good practices in innovation through the expansion of science and technological interactions with other countries. This will also increase our footprint in international trade and entrepreneurial activities in science and technology.
The panels on the symposium include:
• Science Diplomacy; A Re-Emerging Concept
• Canadian Context of Science Diplomacy, What is the Stake for Canada?
• Scientific Research and International Affairs
• Diaspora Scientists and Grassroots Efforts in Science Diplomacy
• Bridging the ST/International Diplomacy Gap
Introduction: The notion of Science Diplomacy 8:45 – 9:00
Vaughan Turekian [Chief International Officer for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)]
Adventures of Science Diplomacy 9:00 – 9:45
Peter Singer [CEO Grand Challenges Canada]
Coffee Break 9:45 – 10:00
Scientific Collaboration, taste of diplomacy 10:00 11:45
Halla Thorsteinsdottir: North South South Collaboration
Yvon Martel; China Canada Collaboration in Agriculture
Rabiz Foda; Canada US India Collaboration
Lunch 11:45 – 12:45
Grassroots, Diaspora Scientists 12:45 – 1:45
Raju Goteti, Indian Canadian Scientists
Rees Kassen, Academy of Young Scientists
Mehrdad Hariri [President and CEO Canadian Science Policy Centre]
Vision for Science Diplomacy 1:45 – 2:45
Vaughan Turekian, Paul Dufour [Principal PaulicyWorks]
There are two things that strike me about the Canadian effort (1) it’s being overtly initiated by Canadian scientists whereas the current UK and US efforts seem to have been initiated by their respective governments and (2) it’s at a very early stage.