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Science Diplomacy online course

Start date: 14 October 2024

Science diplomacy has gained increasing importance and prominence over the last years. Though not a new practice, there is a growing realisation that science diplomacy, actively pursued, is integral to reaching foreign policy goals and addressing some of the world’s most pressing challenges, such as climate change and global health (watch the short video by the S4D4C Project for more examples).

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The Science Diplomacy course explores science diplomacy in-depth. We ask: How can it effectively contribute to global goals and the common good? What particular practices of science diplomacy are relevant? Who are the key actors? What is required of diplomats on the one hand and of scientists on the other? And more broadly, what is needed to ensure that science and diplomacy come together in working towards global goals and the common good? In answering these questions, the course explores science diplomacy in the context of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), the science-policy interface, practices of ‘boundary spanning’, and anticipation of future science policy interactions.

This course is aimed at diplomats and staff of international organisations, on the one hand, and scientists on the other. It makes an explicit effort to bring together both groups to engage in a dialogue that is crucial in working towards reaching the SDGs. The course will also benefit academics and NGO representatives working on the intersection of science and policy.

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What will you learn?

  • Explain the main ideas and concepts of science diplomacy
  • Have a broad overview of the various actors
  • Understand it's relevance for the SDGs
  • Pinpoint the various ways in which science and policymaking interact
  • Understand and contextualise evidence-based decision-making
  • Have an overview of skills and practices that foster science diplomacy and science-policy interactions
  • Apply the knowledge and skills gained in this course in their field of work

How will you learn?

In this course you will interact intensively in discussions with classmates and lecturers from around the world. You will receive guidance and personalised feedback on your classwork from the course team.

How long will you learn?

The course lasts for 6 weeks:

  • 1 week of course introduction and orientation to online learning
  • 4 weeks of addressing the course topics one by one (see below for more details)
  • 1 week for the final assignment and completing pending tasks

Who should apply

Diplo, the GSPI, and GESDA are seeking applications from the following applicants, from both developed and developing countries:

  • Practising diplomats, civil servants, staff of international organisations, and others working in international relations who want to explore this subject in the context of the SDGs under the guidance of experienced practitioners and academics.

The following applicants are also welcome:

  • Journalists, staff of non-governmental organisations, translators, business people, and others who interact with diplomats and wish to improve their understanding of diplomacy-related topics.
  • Postgraduate students of diplomacy or international relations wishing to study topics not offered through their university programmes or diplomatic academies and gain deeper insight through interaction with practising diplomats.


According to one definition, 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.'

A three-part typology introduced by the Royal Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) looks at: science in diplomacy, diplomacy for science, and science for diplomacy. This online course takes this as a starting point to explore the relevance of science diplomacy in solving the challenges of today’s world. 

Partnerships and collaboration

Science diplomacy course partner logosThis is a Diplo course, developed and delivered in collaboration with the Geneva Science-Policy Interface (GSPI) and the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA). Please see ‘Lecturers’ for further details. 

The course consists of 4 modules

  1. Introduction to science diplomacy: In this module, we present various ways of understanding, approaching, and doing science diplomacy. While we discuss various definitions, we also pay attention to recent developments in the practice of science diplomacy. 
  2. Science diplomacy and the SDGs: This module takes the understanding of science diplomacy developed in module one and applies it to the specific context of the SDGs. We unpack the role of science in and for the SDGs, and shed light on specific science diplomacy interactions. 
  3. Bridging the world of science and diplomacy: Following the discussion on science diplomacy in the context of the four SDGs, this module sheds further light on science diplomacy interactions and how to successfully approach and conduct them. It gives practical advice on the interface of science and diplomacy. 
  4. Anticipation of future science policy interactions and challenges: This final module moves the focus towards anticipation and future developments in science policy interactions. The module discusses approaches to anticipation, and concludes with hands-on exploration of anticipation tools.

Course lecturers

Marga Gual Soler

Head of Science Diplomacy Capacity Building, Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator

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Nicolas Seidler

Executive Director, Geneva Science-Policy Interface

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Pavlina Ittelson

Executive Director, Diplo US

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Tim Flink

Postdoctoral Researcher and Senior Lecturer in Political Science and Sociology at the Humboldt University of Berlin

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Bhaskar Balakrishnan

Former Indian Ambassador

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Mialy Rann

Science-Policy Officer, Geneva Science-Policy Interface


This online course is based on a collaborative learning approach, involving a high level of interaction over a period of 6 weeks. Reading materials and the necessary tools for online interaction are provided in a virtual classroom.

Each week, participants study and discuss course materials and complete additional online activities. At the end of the week, participants and lecturers meet to discuss the topic of the week. For successful completion, this course requires a minimum of 5 to 7 hours of study time per week.

Participants who complete the course successfully will receive an electronic certificate issued by Diplo.


Applicants must have:

  • Sufficient English language skills to undertake postgraduate-level studies.
  • Regular internet access; dial-up connections are sufficient, broadband is preferable.
  • A minimum of 5 to 7 hours of commitment per week, and the readiness to participate in class online sessions (once a week at specified times)

Fees and scholarships

The course fee is €500 per participant, due upon acceptance into the course.

Note: Diplo alumni can benefit from a 15% discount on the fee for this course.

A limited number of partial scholarships offered by Diplo are available for applicants from developing countries. Discounts are available for more than one participant from the same institution.

How to apply

Fill out the short form to start your application process for this course. You will receive an instruction email on how to continue.

If you are applying for financial assistance, please upload your CV and a motivation letter that should include:

  • Details of your relevant professional and educational background
  • Reasons for your interest in the course
  • Why you feel you should have the opportunity to participate in this course: How will your participation benefit you, your institution and/or your country?
  • What particular science-policy/diplomacy challenges would you like to overcome by completing this course?


Cancellation Policy

Diplo reserves the right to cancel this course if enrolment is insufficient. In case of cancellation, Diplo will notify applicants shortly after the application deadline.