Science, research and evidence are universal languages, relying on concepts that cross cultural, linguistic and geographical boundaries.
Science diplomacy is a term that began to gain widespread acceptance in 2010 to acknowledge this, and it refers to the use of scientific collaboration to advance broader diplomatic and policy objectives such as addressing shared problems, building partnerships, and facilitating exchanges to further global knowledge.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) supports the Centre for Science Diplomacy, which has published the policy journal, Science & Diplomacy, since 2012.
Deputy Director of the Centre, Dr Mahlet Mesfin, explained that STEM professionals may be able to engage in science diplomacy once they realise what it is, or are able to see its immense value.
“As we enter an age of research where meaningful progress on global challenges isn’t really possible without cross-disciplinary, cross-border collaboration, we need scientists and foreign policy professionals to understand and take advantage of the ways science can inform and influence diplomacy and vice versa,” Dr Mesfin said.
“Relationships that scientists build while working with colleagues overseas, attending conferences around the world, and providing support for their international peers may have value beyond just scientific advancement.”
Science & Diplomacy features perspectives, experiences, and research from individuals who have worked at the intersection of science and international relations.
“Gaining understanding of the work being done in these topics helps to give people an understanding of how to branch beyond their expertise and find new motivations and means to collaborate widely,” Dr Mesfin said.
She said the Centre also offered a range of policy and leadership workshops to provide STEM professionals with knowledge and practical skills to amplify their roles in shaping positive outcomes in diplomacy.
“We’ve been pleased to have Australian participants in our workshops, and some of them have been empowered to contribute to the political process and understand their role in shaping Australia’s diplomatic landscape once they return home.”
The area of science diplomacy continues to build momentum in the USA among scientists and technologists who have an interest in policy and the broader impact of their work.
“We hope to see more Australians contributing to the field of science diplomacy and publishing in Science & Diplomacy.”
For interested STEM professionals, the AAAS Centre for Science Diplomacy encourages you to:
- Contribute an academic article, perspective piece, or “Letter from the Field” to Science & Diplomacy (abstracts can be submitted before the final piece is crafted and contributed).
- Watch – and share – the Centre’s online course on science diplomacy
- Follow the Centre on Twitter (@scidip) for up-to-date information about programs as well as science diplomacy news around the world.
- Share your own #sciencediplomacy stories via social media
This piece was prepared by Dion Pretorius, STA’s Communication and Policy Manager, as part of a Visiting Fellowship to the AAAS in Washington DC.