Yellow banner with pen and letters

author: Encieh Erfani

Boundary spanning successes and challenges

2022

The techniques I learned during the course helped me to use scientific facts in negotiation. Despite the fact that in traditional societies even scientific facts are not accepted science can still help to open the conversation.
Science-Diplomacy-cover-July2022.jpg

Note: This article is a part of the publication ‘Science diplomacy capacity development: Reflections on Diplo’s 2021 course and the road ahead’

I am a scientist and I work as an assistant professor in academia with no background in diplomacy. However, I consider myself a ‘boundary spanner’ since I am involved in several organizations in which Science Diplomacy plays a major role.

I am an executive committee member of the Global Young Academy (GYA) which is an academy for early career researchers (ECRs). Young scientists have their own challenges and the GYA gives voice to ECRs. Some of the challenges are as follows: The GYA as a partner of the International Science Council (ISC) and InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) gives advice in science policy decisions to consider these challenges. 

The EC members are the voice of members in several high-ranked meetings like the World Science Forum, Science and Technology in the Society Forum, and UNESCO meetings where Science Diplomacy happens. 

The GYA also supports the establishment of National Young Academies, especially in developing countries. On the other hand, the GYA has working groups on Science Diplomacy, science advice, science communication, and open science to engage members in these topics. Several studies have been done at GYA, for example on the situation of ECRs in ASEAN, Africa, and Latin America, the effect of COVID-19 on ECRs, the situation of mother scientists, and trust in science. 

Recently I established the SDG incubator at GYA to focus more on these goals and the role of ECRs to achieve them. The promotion of this incubator was the topic of SDGs during the course since I realized that most of the scientists, especially the ones from developing countries, are not familiar with SDGs and the potential of their research to achieve them.

I am co-chair of the “Preservation of Science” task team of the “Science in Exile” project of TWAS/ISC/IAP. The goal of the project is to support at-risk, displaced, and refugee scholars. In this project, I practice ‘diplomacy for science’ and I find it challenging to negotiate support for scientists. One of the main projects that I am involved in is to rescue Afghan scholars. Here taking a decision under uncertainty is more clear since the situation is critical and it is not obvious the decisions that we take will be successful in action.

I am the only female on the board of directors of the Astronomy Society of Iran (ASI) and I recently established its female branch. The evidence shows clearly that females are in the minority in STEM, however in most of the developing countries there is no policy to remove this inequality. Indeed gender equality is one of the goals of sustainable development and for achieving this we need to empower females. That is the reason, despite several challenges, that I established the female branch of the ASI to give voice to Iranian women astronomers. 

The techniques I learned during the course helped me to use scientific facts in negotiation. Despite the fact that in traditional societies even scientific facts are not accepted science can still help to open the conversation.

I take political decisions in my ordinary life, however in my career as a scientist, the decisions can affect my students, colleagues, and my institute. So learning Science Diplomacy helps me to make decisions that are a greater benefit to science.

You may also be interested in

jk.png

Knowledge management: experience from international organisations

In this chapter, John Pace decribes the three-phase evolution of knowledge management in the human rights program of the United Nations. The realisation that knowledge management is a necessity came during the third phase. The author also describes the complex system of monitoring bodies and ad hoc mechanisms, and the developments that took place following four decisions taken in the mid-eighties.

book-knowledge.jpg

Knowledge and Diplomacy

Knowledge and Diplomacy presents papers on knowledge and knowledge management from the January 1999 Conference on Knowledge and Diplomacy in Malta. The papers in this book, examining the topic from a variety of backgrounds, academic interests and orientations, reflect the multidisciplinary character of knowledge management. This publication is only available online.

kd.png

The role of knowledge in the cyber-age of globalisation

In his paper, Richard Falk reflects on the application of information technology on diplomacy, and discusses the challenge of converting information technology to ‘knowledge technology’, and subsequently to ‘wisdom technology’. Yet, the ‘crossroads in human experience’ brings many challenges and dangers which the author analyses.

kd.png

How do you know what you think you know?

In his paper, J. Thomas Converse focuses on four records-related areas where the issues of knowledge management and diplomacy come together and provide the greatest challenges to archivists, diplomats, historians and technology providers: validation, trustworthiness, context and longevity. He also explores some of the changes and challenges brought about by technology, and urges for a continued embrace of technology, while at the same time demanding the validating and relational functions which give archives their trustworthiness.

jk.png

Knowledge management and diplomatic training – new approaches for training institutions

Dietrich Kappeler analyses the new approaches for training institutions in knowledge management and diplomatic training, departing from the premise that a distinction is important between personal characteristics and qualities of the diplomat on one hand, and the knowledge and skills he needs to do his job on the other.

jk.png

Knowledge management and change in international organisations: Learning from the private sector

In this paper, John Harper and Jennifer Cassingena Harper talk about knowledge as a vital resource, and the necessity of building competencies and establishing new skills. Analysing the theories by Ernst B. Haas in When Knowledge is Power: Three Models of Change in International Organisation, the authors trace the development of knowledge-oriented activities in the private sector, and its implications for organisations in the public and international domain.

Science-Diplomacy-report-June-2019.png

Science & Diplomacy: How countries interact with the Boston innovation ecosystem

Crucial global topics are becoming increasingly dependent on the world’s rapidly changing scientific knowledge and technological capabilities: from global health to digital society, sustainability to development, and beyond. To tackle this growing complexity, countries increasingly seek to engage with international science and technology hubs like Boston, so as to accelerate their ability to innovate and spark collaborative efforts with other nations.

kd.png

Beyond diplomatic – the unravelling of history

In his paper, Robert Alston travels through time to rekindle an important highlight – as well as a personal highlight – in the history of knowledge management. His journey takes him back to the 1850s, which saw Antonio Panizzi’s efforts in creating a universal repository of knowledge in the British Museum; and to the 1990s, a time in which he acquired first-hand experience at the same museum, drawing conclusions on the various available ways of navigating large bibliographical and archival databases.

Science-Diplomacy-cover-July2022.jpg

Science diplomacy capacity development: Reflections on Diplo’s 2021 course and the road ahead

Diplo has a track record of more than 20 years of capacity development in diplomacy. Given the increasing relevance of science diplomacy, expanding our program to include aspects of its theory and practice felt like an organic development. We offered our ten-week Science Diplomacy course for the first time in October 2021.

jk.png

Knowledge management in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malta

In this paper, Maltese diplomat Gaetan Naudi explains how the Maltese MFA embraced the changes introduced by the informatics era. He looks at such changes from a business management perspective, to show how ICTs were introduced to such a fairly large organisation, the concerns raised by the changes, and the progress on computerised knowledge management. He concludes that despite the positive changes introduced thanks to ICTs, this would not have been possible without human involvement.

book-knowledge.jpg

Knowledge and Diplomacy – Alex Sceberras Trigona

In his paper, Alex Sceberras Trigona stresses the importance of the diplomatic document as a primary source of diplomatic knowledge, in the light of the distinction between ‘information’ (can be recorded) and knowledge (not easily recorded), the flow of knowledge as information. He then explains the need for dissecting diplomatic documents, and the various level of analysis which are possible, and the effects of digitalisation on knowledge, information and diplomacy.

jk.png

Knowledge management and international development – the role of diplomacy

In this chapter, Walter Fust talks about the role of knowledge management, and knowledge for development, in diplomacy. He describes various methods to assess what knowledge should be stocked, and explains the need for managers who are assigned the task of deciding what should be stocked. These decisions need to be guided by principles, or guidelines - referred to as value management.

jk.png

Knowledge management and diplomacy

In this paper we aim to provide a comprehensive introduction to the topic of knowledge management in diplomacy. First we provide working definitions of knowledge and knowledge management, and examine the evolution of the concepts. Next, we consider specific features of diplomacy that affect and limit the way knowledge management can be implemented. Then we look at specific techniques which diplomacy can adapt from the business sector in the field of knowledge management. Finally, we consider some important questions related to human resources and knowledge management.