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Science Diplomacy in the 21(st) Century



Science diplomacy is the use of scientific collaborations among nations to address the common problems facing 21(st) century humanity and to build constructive international partnerships. There are many ways that scientists can contribute to this process.
Leading Edge
Cell 136, January 9, 2009 ©2009 Elsevier Inc. 9
Bill Gates, arguably the world’s most
famous technocrat, gave a remarkable
speech during the 2008 Davos World
Ec onom ic F orum , ca lli ng fo r a n ew f orm
of capitalism to go beyond traditional
philanthropy and government aid. Cit-
ing examples ranging from the develop-
ment o f s of tware fo r p eo pl e w ho ca nno t
read to developing vaccines at a price
that Africans can afford to pay, Gates
said such projects “…provide a hint of
what we can accomplish if people who
are experts on needs in the develop-
ing world meet with scientists who
understand what the break throughs
are, whether it’s in software or drugs”
Davos.mspx). He suggested that we
need to develop a new business model
that would allow a combination of the
motivation to help hum anity and the
pro t motive to drive development. He
called it “creative capitalism,” capital-
ism leavened by a pinch of idealism
and altruistic desire to bet ter the lot of
Scientists and engineers have an
important role to play in creating what
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman
calls a “at world,a world of economic
opportunity made equal through elec-
tronic communication technologies (http:// bookshelf/
the-world-is-at). This transformation has
not yet penetrated into the poorest parts
of the world and needs much more scien-
tic and technical investment. But today,
most scientists look to foreign institutions
for top-notch graduate students and post-
docs to populate their laboratories. The
notion of becoming a science diplomat, of
taking time out from a busy and competi-
tive career to teach, develop research col-
laborations, or start a business in the least
advanced countries is just not on the radar
screen for most scientists and engineers.
Yet there are such opportunities, both in
the US Depar tment of State and the US
Agency for International Development
(USAID), as well as in non-governmen-
tal organizations, such as the National
Academy of Sciences, for scientists
and engineers to use their scientic and
technical skills in the service of interna-
tional diplomacy.
I took one such opportunity last year
when, as a geneticist and molecular
biologist at the Pennsylvania State Uni-
versity, I was invited to serve as the Sci-
ence and Technology Adviser to the US
Secretary of State. My position is not a
political one: I have served current Sec-
retary of State Condoleeza Rice and I
will serve Secretary-designate Hillary
Clinton upon her assumption of ofce
this month. I accepted the position
because my involvement in scientic
interactions between US scientists and
scientists in the former Soviet Union
through the 1990s convinced me of the
profound stabilizing inuence that sci-
entic interactions can exert between
countries with deeply discordant ideolo-
gies and political systems. Not long after
I joined the State Department, I received
an invitation from USAID Administrator
Henrietta Fore to be her Science and
Technology Adviser, as well. The mission
she gave me was to assist her in restor-
ing the scientic and technical strength
of the agency to enable the better use of
science and technology for international
My primary task at both the US
Department of State, the home base of
our international diplomatic co rps, and
USAID is to increase scientic input
into the many activities of the Depart-
ment and the Agency. The Ofce of
the Science Adviser to the Secretar y
of State was e stablis hed in 2000 in
response to a National Research Coun-
cil study, titled The Pervasive Role of
Science, Technolog y, a nd Health in
Foreign Policy” (
that highlighted the attrition of scien-
tists from State Department ranks at a
time when the importance of science
and technology was expanding in every
aspect of foreig n p olicy. Under the
leadership of the rst Science Adviser
to the Secretar y of State, Dr. N orman
Neureiter, the number of active scien-
tists in the depar tment began to grow
again as he promoted the expansion
of the AAAS Science Diplomacy Fel-
lows program (http://fellowships.aaas.
org/02_ Areas /02_index.shtml) within
the State Depar tment. Today we have
roughly 30 new AAAS Fellows joining
us every year for 1–2 years of service.
Many stay on to make careers in the
State Department, becoming science
diplomats serving either in Washington
DC or as Foreign Service Ofcers.
My predecessor as Science Adviser,
Dr. George Atkinson, created the Jef-
ferson Science Fellowship program
jefferson/), which provides an oppor-
tunity for tenured academic scientists
and engineers farther along in their
car eers than the t ypical AAAS fellow to
work in the State Department. Jeffer-
son Science Fellows c ome to the State
Department for a year, funded by their
own univer sit y as they would be on a
sabbatical leave. The State Depart-
ment covers their local living and travel
expenses. Fellows then consult for the
Science Diplomacy in the 21st Century
Nina V. Fedoroff1,*
1Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State and to the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID), U.S. Department of State, Washington DC 20520, USA
DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2008.12.030
Science diplomacy is the use of scientific collaborations among nations to address the common
problems facing 21st century humanity and to build constructive international partnerships. There
are many ways that scientists can contribute to this process.
10 Cell 136, January 9, 2009 ©2009 Elsevier Inc.
State D epartment for an additional
5 year s after returning to their home
Jefferson Science Fellows are often
individuals who already have a keen
awareness of the importance of inter-
national collaborations and use their
association with the State Department
to broaden their inuence and involve-
ment in foreign relations and develop-
ment efforts. For example, Dr. Osama
Awadelkarim, a Sudanese-born Profes-
sor of Materials Science at the Penn-
sylvania State University, served as a
Jefferson Science Fellow in 2006. His
passionate devotion to enhancing scien-
tic and engineering expertise in Africa
took him to several African countries to
teach and to establish collaborations, as
well as to talk with government ofcials
and champion the importance of interna-
tional scientic interactions.
In a speech given at the 2006 World
Food Prize symposium, Secretary of
Defense Rober t Gates said the following:
“It could be argued that our inability to
continue our investment in human capi-
tal on a scale that we did in the 1960s
and 1970s is a factor that has contrib-
uted at least in some measure to insta-
bility in many places today and hostility
to the United States. ...The United States
was the key inuence in developing the
Indian agricultural university system,
the key contributor to the African agri-
cultural universities, and to Asian and
Latin American agricultural universities
as well. But such US programs are now
a pale shadow of what they once were.
Science has disappeared. Human capi-
tal development has disappeared. And
the investments for long-term institution
building have nearly disappeared.”
There remains a profound gap
between the citizens of af uent nations,
who have access to abundant food, up-
to-date technology, and excellent edu-
cational opportunities, and citizens of
the poorest countries of every continent,
many of whom lack adequate food, often
have no electricity, and have little access
to either the Internet or higher education.
The technological aspect of this gap has
been called the “digital divide” and much
has been written about it. Some believe
that the problems of the poorest coun-
tries are simply solved by cell phones
and inexpensive computers that can be
used even in places that lack electricity.
Certainly these technologies are impor-
tant and make the job possible, if not
ea sy.
But the problems are deep and stub-
born. Perhaps the most poignant dis-
parities exist between the countries of
the developed world and much of Africa,
where climate, disease, soil exhaustion,
and a host of other problems contribute.
In his book titled “The Bottom Billion,”
economist Paul Collier (
uk/~econpco/) offers an insightful analy-
sis of the many factors that contribute to
trapping the poorest nations in continuing
cycles of poverty and unrest.
The global food crisis of 2008 triggered
food riots in more than 30 countries and
calls for a new Green Revolution. The
rst Green Revolution, however, was
relatively straightforward, if not easy:
improved crop varieties and increased
fertilizer use. The next Green Revolution
will be more dif cult, even if we succeed
in overcoming the deep and widespread
mistrust of using modern molecular
methods for the genetic improvement of
crop plants. In a crowded world, we no
longer have the luxury of focusing on the
single variable of agricultural productiv-
ity. Food, water, energy, health, and eco-
nomic development are all intertwined.
Progress will depend on a high level of
education, particularly in science and
engineering. All will be impacted by cli-
mate change and politics—every where.
Climate change is a wake-up call to
the awareness that we live in a world
without borders. Airplanes can make
SARS and multidrug-resistant TB every-
one’s problem in a heartbeat. Trade
barriers between nations and farm sub-
sidies in developed nations stie agri-
cultural growth in developing countries.
The rush toward renewable energy from
biofuels accelerates deforestation in the
Amazon, however indirectly, and with
each acre lost, another multitude of spe-
cies goes extinct. Wall Street’s problems
echo around the world.
And all of these seemingly separate
problems turn out to be interconnected.
Food and energy are now viewed as
fungible. Growing the food—and feed
and ber and fuel—demanded by a still
expanding and increasingly afuent
human population requires innovations
not just in agricultural productivity but
also in water and land management,
food processing, and transpor tation.
Decimating what remains of the tropic’s
forests will as surely exacerbate climate
change as it will reduce biodiversity. It’s
one big thorny tangle: people, money,
food, energy, health, water, land, climate,
How do we as scientists begin to
think—and act—on a global scale to
address such complicated problems? It
seems to me that we must rst become
citizens not ju st of our own nations, but
of this world without borders. We need
to see, experience, and identify with
the peoples and the problems of other
nations and to recognize the complex-
ity and interconnec tions among the
challenges facing 21st century human-
ity. And perhaps most importantly of
all, we ne ed to understand, at a deep
gut level, that all our fates are truly
We must move quickly to develop the
science that will allow us to model and
understand the complex system that is
our planet and its crust of human activi-
ties. We need to invent efcient, nonpol-
luting means of local power generation.
We need to invest in the research that
will allow us to improve how we manage
water, grow food, battle disease, and
build economies into the next genera-
tion—and the next. Science, of course,
provides the common language to build
bridges between cultures.
Education is a stumbling block. The
US has educated talented students from
around the world for many years. Today
virtually every developed country real-
izes the value to the economy of such
talent—and actively seeks to recruit it.
But herein lies a paradox: sending its
best students to be educated in more
developed countries exacerbates a poor
country’s problems because the edu-
cation itself—whether it is a teacher’s
certicate, a nursing degree, or a PhD—
makes it easier to nd employment and
a more stable life in a developed country.
Such “brain drain” has robbed—and is
continuing to rob—many poor countries
of their educated people.
These are the people who design,
develop, and maintain society’s infra-
structure—its agriculture, its schools,
its clinics, its power, and telecommuni-
cations networks. As well, they are the
Cell 136, January 9, 2009 ©2009 Elsevier Inc. 11
professors and researchers who gen-
erate and propagate the knowledge—
the science and technology—that are
essential in every aspect of life and that
are increasingly recognized as the driv-
ing forces of successful economies.
I believe that we need a deep para-
digm shift in our interactions with the
less developed world: from distant aid
recipients to partners in building a global
future. We need to bring the science,
the engineering, and technology and the
educational systems of developed coun-
tries to bear directly and in new ways to
create a world in which all people have
the educational and economic opportu-
nities now available almost exclusively in
the developed world.
I believe this paradigm shift is get-
ting underway—among governments,
in foundations, in the business world,
and in the academic world. It is driven
in some measure by necessity and per-
haps in some measure by the fact that
modern communications media make
the disparities among the nations of the
world harshly and constantly apparent to
But there is much, much more to be
done and not all of it can be done by
governments. In April, Secretar y of State
Rice, Secretary of Education Spellings,
and USAID Administrator Fore convened
a global conference of college and uni-
versity presidents, companies, and foun-
dations (Higher Education Summit for
Global Development, April 29–30, 2008;
http://ww s/events/
c26110.htm). Its purpose was to explore
new ways of connecting the institutions
of higher education in the developed
and developing worlds across the entire
spectrum of what contemporary univer-
sities do, from teaching and research,
to supporting technology transfer and
The means of connecting educational
resources and people between conti-
nen ts ha ve ne ve r b ee n r ic he r, m or e v ar ie d,
or easier. From MIT OpenCourseWare to
digital videoconferencing and collab-
orative software, we can teach and work
between countries and continents—and
in real time. The Internet and broadband
connections are critical; availability is
increasing and cost is decreasing but in
places remains prohibitive. This is where
governments, companies, and founda-
tions can help.
Yet the challenge of connecting people
and resources remains, of making global
service—what I’ve called science diplo-
macy—a part of what we do as scientists
and engineers, whether we work in a gov-
ernment agency, a university, a research
institute, or a company. The traditional
approach of educating students in our
institutions and laboratories is increas-
ingly unacceptable. President Paul Kag-
ame of Rwanda, arguably the African
leader most supportive of science and
technology in developing and modern-
izing his country, gave an articulate and
moving talk at the recent Higher Education
Summit for Global Development. Bluntly
paraphrased, his most salient points are
these: “We provide you with foreign aid in
the form of trained and educated people.
You send us expensive consultants to
tell us what we already know” ( President
Kagame’s full speech is available at http://
We ne ed ou r s ci en ti st s and en gi ne er s,
our experts of all kinds, whether in the
lab or in the diplomatic corps, to help us
jump the digital divide, both technically
and personally. We need scientists,
engineers, and entrepreneurs to coach
and teach until the world is truly at, to
call on Friedman’s metaphor again; that
is, until all peoples have the educational
and economic opportunities to build and
live in sustainable knowledge societies.
That’s 21st century science diplomacy.
... Günümüzde bilim diplomasisi, devletler arasında çok taraflı ve ikili ilişkileri geliştiren bir diplomasi aracı olarak görülmektedir. Kavrama yönelik en geniş tanım Fedoroff (2009) (Turekian ve Neureiter, 2012). İlk defa Viyana Diyalogları (2017) esnasında dünyamızın sürdürülebilirliği bağlamındaki tartışmalar esnasında ortaya çıkan "continuum of urgencies" (aciliyetlerin sürekliliği) kavramı, iklim değişikliğine yönelik bilim diplomasisi faaliyetlerinin meşru zemin kazanmasında büyük öneme sahiptir. ...
Full-text available
The Arctic Region has undergone a significant socio-ecological transformation due to thinning and shrinking sea ice and the melting of glaciers in parallel with global warming and climate change. When these changes are combined with globalization, it is envisioned that many economic opportunities and the number of actors willing to take advantage of them will emerge in line with a discussion area called cryopolitics. Cryopolitics has also paved the way for the Arctic Region's transformation into an important political space where the great powers have paid special attention and formed national strategies solely for that region. When the relevant literature is examined in detail, it has been observed that there is a need for more comprehensive studies, especially in the context of science diplomacy, to explain the changes and transformations of the Arctic Region, which has previously been the subject of discussions in the context of different perspectives, from the great power struggle and militarization to the Arctic "exceptionalism". Within the scope of this study, Arctic science diplomacy is examined both as a tool used in solving global problems in the region and as a concept aimed at increasing cooperation between states. The aim of this study is to discuss Turkey’s potential contributions to Arctic science diplomacy as a state holding the goal of becoming an international actor in the Arctic region upon the gaining momentum with polar research in recent years and to assist the development of science diplomacy activities for the region.
... Therefore, this contribution needs to be considered in a 46 multiperspective view and at the same time as the tangible result of a bottom-up 47 conceived monitoring support and dissemination effort. Ultimately, it can be read as the 48 basis for a wider and long-lasting field-based contribution and science diplomacy 49 intervention, sensu Fedoroff N.V., 2009 [6]. 50 ...
Full-text available
UN Decade of Ocean Sciences, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and forthcoming conservation issues, a new global framework for biodiversity resulting from COP15 negotiations, public engagement sessions and much more, but which kind of goals are we really going to pursue? The latest initiatives, supported also by the Spanish National Agency in the framework of an Erasmus+ initiative, are part of the personally promoted project “FINS INTO THE WATER OCEAN LITERACY INTO PRACTICE”. At first this initiative has been set on a voluntary basis, subsequently, the engagement of other partners at national level and across Europe, sharing some working goals also within the EMSEA Med regional working group and with some of the leading representatives of SCUBA diving sector (teaching agencies and private sector professionals), made possible the development of teaching resources in order to significantly contribute to the aforementioned gap filling. Despite some formal hostilities occurred over the years from institutional representatives toward some field-engaged professionals, there is a great willingness among these people to be actively engaged in conservation goals concerning their daily working environment. This contribution is a tangible proof of this shared attitude and highlights the need to address properly conceived multidisciplinary educational sessions [1;2;3;4;5]. According to FAIR data principles all the observations and field data obtained so far will be publicly shared within the next few months even on other digital platforms, in order to contribute to the baseline research and ameliorate the upcoming steps necessary to successfully fulfill marine conservation and coastal management duties.
... Proactive measures could ensure that the money reaches even those communities who lack internet connections and the expertise required to make requests. For example, social security numbers, bank accounts, and smart (mobile) technologies could be linked to enable direct benefit transfers, similar to the system used in India to provide support during the COVID-19 pandemic (7). Contingency funds should be established to provide rapid financial support to the affected groups in the immediate aftermath of future disasters. ...
... The foreign experience of the use and implementation of science diplomacy, which is increasingly considered by scientists in different countries, was also investigated in the works of M. V. Silantieva, O. M. Kharitonova, R. O. Reinhardt, and K. A. Ibrahimova (Fedoroff, 2009;Science diplomacy, 2022). ...
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The article is devoted to the problem of development of scientific diplomacy of educational institutions by means of creative cooperation. The main task of scientific diplomacy to form the image of the educational institution and interpersonal relations of all participants in the educational process is substantiated. Attention is paid to the communicative activity as a phenomenon of scientific creativity; the theoretical content of the concepts of "diplomacy", "communicative culture", "educational diplomacy" is considered; diagnostics of the readiness of educational institutions for the development of educational and scientific diplomacy is carried out. The conducted analysis of the essence of pedagogical interaction in an educational institution allows us to conclude that the concept of "educational diplomacy" is a rather complex and multifaceted concept that is used in various spheres of human activity, covers a large number of objects and phenomena, as it is manifested in the educational process, personal interaction, technological processes, communications, etc. The article also pays attention to the development of science diplomacy, peculiarities of its implementation and influence on the generation of international initiatives in the globalized world. Using a comparative methodology, the approaches to understanding science diplomacy in domestic and foreign discourse are analyzed, taking into account the existing practice of its application. It is established that science diplomacy, as a type of public diplomacy, serves as a means of promoting and protecting the national interests of the state, and also plays a regulatory role in a complex system of international interaction. At the same time, science diplomacy can serve to solve specific foreign policy tasks of regional importance – first of all with neighboring countries in the fields of ecology, forecasting and elimination of the consequences of natural and man-made disasters, mining and rational use of marine natural resources, in the social and humanitarian sphere. The availability of permanent and sufficient funding for bilateral scientific projects on such topics, especially with neighboring countries, can actually be a manifestation of scientific diplomacy for establishing good international relations. Developing the institution of science diplomacy, it is extremely important to maintain a balance of interaction between scientific and political components, to prevent the use of political tools in the scientific sphere. It is also extremely important that scientific and diplomatic goals remain transparent to avoid manipulation of science for political purposes and to prevent politicization of science. The results of the study give grounds to assert that the development of educational diplomacy is a priority area of personal development and professional development of scientists and teachers of educational institutions, based on psychological and pedagogical theory and practice and focused on subject-subject relations in work. This direction is consistently implemented in the process of studying in the system of postgraduate pedagogical education by acquiring the necessary competencies, gradual improvement of communicative qualities and accumulation of experience in communicative interaction.
During the years of the Cold War, the opportunities for foreign scientific cooperation by Soviet scholars were limited. However, despite the impediments of the Soviet system, Central Asian science's cooperation with the outside world has continued. In virtue of being of Asian origin and Muslim and having profound knowledge and understanding of the language and civilizational processes of the East, Central Asian people had a special place in Soviet foreign policy. The Central Asians attracted the sympathy of the peoples of the East, which granted them access to their scientific and diplomatic connections. The paper examines how Central Asians used understanding of and ties to the East in diplomacy, for diplomacy, and with diplomacy. First, the paper unpacks the institutional and individual potential of Soviet Central Asian diplomacy and explains how it was used as a tool for Soviet strategy. The paper then examines Oriental studies as a knowledge basis that enabled improved and more in-depth Soviet diplomacy in the East given the pervasive and basic legacy of Oriental studies in studying the East. Further, Soviet involvement in UNESCO programmes in Asia provides insight into how Soviet policy used its soft power through international organisations. In conclusion, the author summarises how science diplomacy was used to further Soviet policy and evaluates the legacy of Soviet science diplomacy in light of recent developments.
This paper considers the concept of science diplomacy in the context of Eurasian history with a particular focus on the period of the Mongol Empire in the 13 th century. The Mongol Empire held sway over much of Eurasia and thus participated in diplomatic activity within and outside of Mongol domains. Scientists and intellectuals routinely headed diplomatic embassies sent and received by the Mongol Empire. Diplomats were valued for their knowledge and skills and served as interlocutors and translators for the Mongol Khans. These scientist-diplomats were key figures in the court and were essential in facilitating exchanges, building connections and fostering relations. As polyglots and polymaths they were able to operate in a multi-cultural environment. They were part of the complex framework of the Mongol Empire that brought to bear a kind of Eurasian development model that relied on expertise, knowledge and resources that could be utilised across the empire. Set within this context, the paper describes the creation of a politico-science complex in Mongol Eurasia with a special emphasis on the relationship between the Mongol Khans and their partners, chief among them were scientists and intellectuals. The Mongol Empire as an empire built upon exchanges summarises how scientific exchanges were both a product of and a driver for diplomatic relations in this period. Thus, the historical connection between diplomacy and science in Eurasia is a necessary component in understanding the modern notion of science diplomacy beyond a European context and applied more globally both in terms of time and space.
The purpose of this chapter is to introduce, define and analyse the concept of knowledge diplomacy as a way to frame the role of international higher education, research and innovation in international relations. The chapter starts with a brief synopsis of the main insights, similarities and differences gained from the review of the scholarly literature from diplomacy and higher education fields of study. The different interpretations and use of soft power by the two fields of study are highlighted. Building on this overview of trends and terms, the distinction between a definition and a description is discussed, and both are provided to elucidate the meaning of knowledge diplomacy. A conceptual framework for knowledge diplomacy is proposed and based on five foundational elements – intentions, actors, principles, modes of operation and activities. Each of the constituent dimensions of the conceptual framework is explored in detail, and examples are provided. This leads to a discussion on understanding how knowledge diplomacy is a two-way process and why knowledge diplomacy is neither a neutral nor a normative concept. The chapter ends with a reiteration of why it is important to distinguish the role of IHERI in a knowledge diplomacy approach from the role of IHERI in a soft power approach.
The purpose of this chapter is, firstly, to provide a brief overview of the major findings and insights related to the three questions which shaped this book; secondly, highlight the significance of these findings and their contribution to the two fields of study; and, thirdly, identify issues and questions that require further research and reflection. The importance of differentiating between the motivations, values and strategies of using a knowledge diplomacy approach versus a soft power approach is emphasized recognizing that they both exist but must be understood as having different intentions and outcomes. The chapter acknowledges that knowledge diplomacy would benefit from further investigation and identifies several key issues meriting further analysis. These include knowledge diplomacy as a two-way process; knowledge diplomacy in the knowledge society vs knowledge economy; the risk of knowledge diplomacy being used as a catch-all term; motivations driving the use of international higher education, research and innovation as soft power; national policies to support knowledge diplomacy; knowledge diplomacy in international development cooperation; IHERI as a public or private good and rationales driving knowledge diplomacy; and knowledge diplomacy and regionalization. The chapter concludes with some brief comments about the future challenges of operationalizing knowledge diplomacy.
Just as it is valuable to analyse the different types and new developments in diplomacy and soft power, it is equally important to examine the changing world of international higher education, research and innovation (IHERI) to understand its role in international relations (IR). Traditionally, IHERI’s role in strengthening relations between and among countries is understood to involve scholarships, student/scholar mobility, bilateral higher education agreements and projects, international student recruitment and joint research projects. While these activities are still important, there are new developments which must be taken into consideration and examined in terms of their potential to expand and strengthen relations between and among countries. These include the development of education cities, knowledge hubs, regional centres of excellence, international joint universities, multilateral thematic and disciplinary research networks, international private-public partnerships, regional-based universities, international satellite campuses, new professional organizations and others. These initiatives offer new opportunities to expand the flow and exchange of ideas, knowledge, people, technologies, policies, culture, science, innovation, etc. across borders. They also need to be analysed and understood in terms of potential benefits and risks to strengthening relations between and among countries.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.