Yellow banner with pen and letters

author: Nikola Božić

Interdisciplinarity and collaboration to address global problems

2022

Science Diplomacy is a very interdisciplinary field of human activity. Different scientific disciplines help to understand the complex world, but as such they also have an impact on different parts of society and human work. Science has always been global, but it is no longer global only in a closed scientific community. It affects different countries, regardless of whether they themselves are part of certain research processes.
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’

Diplo’s Science Diplomacy course was an extraordinary experience for me because it was created from scratch and addressed an emerging field. We are living in an era in which the importance of cooperation between scientists and diplomats, and the need for mutual understanding, is rising. For many decades there were just a few areas connecting these two fields of human activity, but these areas are becoming more numerous.

Science gives us explanations of natural phenomena, describing interrelationships, and aiding understanding of processes in nature. We are currently living in a world where science is not just a human activity which gives us knowledge and a basis for education. Today the development of science and technology influences every person and every country in the world.

With a scientific background, I have always tried to promote and explain science. I believe that scientific facts should be explained to the public, and that everyone has the right to be informed about scientific knowledge. In the last ten years, science has intertwined with the development of human society to the extent that the interests of countries as well as global companies are now involved. 

Science is no longer reserved for scientists, because it has much broader implications. That is why I have a personal connection with this topic. I think that platforms need to be established for discussion, collaboration, and mutual understanding of scientists, diplomats, politicians, companies, international organizations, and the civil sector.

Science Diplomacy is a very interdisciplinary field of human activity. Different scientific disciplines help to understand the complex world, but as such they also have an impact on different parts of society and human work. Science has always been global, but it is no longer global only in a closed scientific community. It affects different countries, regardless of whether they themselves are part of certain research processes.

Space as a public good, for example, has recently become interesting for countries that have not had their own space exploration, as well as for private companies. Space exploration may actually concern each of us individually, as well as each country.

Because of this, Science Diplomacy is a multistakeholder field. It is interdisciplinary due to the complexity of the topics it covers and the processes that surround it. It is a multistakeholder field because dealing with it requires the involvement of all actors. Due to this complexity, together with the fact that this is a new area, Science Diplomacy is especially interesting and important.

This course gave us the opportunity to work with people from different countries, with different backgrounds and perspectives. Working with the participants provided an opportunity to look at things from a different angle, to learn something new and to have fruitful discussions. This course was useful for all – participants and lecturers/facilitators.

All participants are now aware of the fact that both scientists and diplomats should have their place in international cooperation in this field that concerns the entire planet. Scientists should help diplomats understand the complexity of research and scientific results, and diplomats should involve scientists in decision making processes.

You may also be interested in

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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: 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.

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.

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 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 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.

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.