Yellow banner with pen and letters

author: Patricia Kiconco

Reflections on Science Diplomacy: Putting training into practice

2022

Active involvement of governments in science programmes, as is advocated under ‘diplomacy for science’, would further strengthen and broaden understanding of the dynamic role of science and technology in decision making, and inspire scientific contribution outside academia. 
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’

While the relevance of Science Diplomacy (SD) for the challenges of the 21st century cannot be overstated,   the practice is itself nuanced and many of its aspects are still unexplored (Höne and Kurbalija, 2018). The recent and increased attention to Science Diplomacy can be attributed to the recognition that science is as much a cause as it is a cure for many of the current global challenges (Turekian, 2018). 

In their three-part definition, the Royal Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science categorized Science Diplomacy as: ‘diplomacy for science’, ‘science for diplomacy’ and ‘science in diplomacy’ (Royal Society, 2010). Under these themes, Science Diplomacy highlights the widening intersection between science and politics across the globe and addresses the science and policy interface (Rungius and Flink, 2020). 

To explore this further, we look at the advancement of science and technology and the effect it has had on the world system. The rise in technological systems for societal development and the global interconnectedness of science has undoubtedly changed and enhanced the face of multilateral diplomacy and international policymaking. Additionally, the scientific nature of the causes and possible solutions to the problems of the 21st century calls for constructive international partnerships (Fedoroff, 2009). This calls for science and Science Diplomacy to be placed at the center of global discussions regarding the way forward for world problems and the sustainable development goals (Lord and Turekian, 2007).

The COVID-19 pandemic is the most recent example of a global health challenge. With it, we have seen the relevance of and need for health scientists amplified. There has been a global explosion of scientific collaborations and knowledge exchanges between scientists during this pandemic period. However, the various aspects of life affected by the pandemic necessitated a plethora of actors from different science and social backgrounds to work together, and hence a transdisciplinary approach to the solutions. Knowledge sharing in such contexts allows for decisions that promote growth in science, while at the same time fostering economic competitiveness and societal development at the policy level. 

International science collaborations can be harnessed to improve bilateral and multilateral relationships between countries (Rana, 2007). The links forged here, between traditional and non-traditional diplomats enhance the mutuality of benefits between the scientific and the foreign policy communities (The Royal Society, 2010). As a young scientist from a developing country, I can see how this would open more opportunities for training, access to advanced facilities and resource sharing and new careers in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).  This would speed along what Thomas L. Friedman referred to as “the flattening of the world” (Friedman, 2005).

Collaborations can further be used as a platform for training in science leadership, research, science communication and all-round capacity building among budding scientists in LMICs. According to the University World News Africa edition 2017, programmes like the African Science Leadership Program aim to develop science leadership through science literacy and transdisciplinary communication with policymakers and the public. 

Through this course, I have been challenged on how to make scientific research relevant to the non-science community and bridging the gap in trust between science and the public. This requires me to move away from thinking in terms of isolated academic research to using science to address current or forecasted community needs. Active involvement of governments in science programmes, as is advocated under ‘diplomacy for science’, would further strengthen and broaden understanding of the dynamic role of science and technology in decision making, and inspire scientific contribution outside academia. 

You may also be interested in

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.