Briefing Science Policy Fellows on Science Diplomacy

S4D4C is interested in the implementation of science diplomacy and science policy fellowships as opportunities to strengthen the links between these different worlds (for example, S4D4C has implemented its own small programme, inviting scientists to embassies as “S4D4C Open Doors Fellows”). One of the current activities is a cooperation of S4D4C team members with the Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC), a non-profit, non-partisan, and non-advocate organization established in 2008. CSPC provides orientation workshops for selected the “Canadian Science Policy Fellows”. The fellowship offers PhD holders from all disciplines a 12-month immersion into the policymaking process with participating government departments and is organised by Mitacs, a Canadian nonprofit national research organization that, in partnerships with academia, private industry and government, operates research and training programs in fields related to industrial and social innovation.
The 2020 edition of these workshops cover information on science communication, evidence-based decision making and science diplomacy – the latter being also informed by our project activities.
The science diplomacy workshop on Thursday, October 15th, 2020 was led by Marga Gual Soler and Lorenzo Melchor, both also team members in S4D4C together with E. William Colglazier as guest speaker, and received general praise.

Workshop description

The most pressing and “wicked” transnational issues of our times – climate change, resource scarcity, pandemic disease, or weapons of mass destruction – are all rooted in science and technology and rely on internationally-coordinated policies and multilateral action to address them. Our planet is being propelled towards a tipping point beyond which recovery may prove impossible, and a collective response may be our only option. It is time to re-imagine the practice and structures of diplomacy and the role and competencies of scientists, policymakers and diplomats to renew the relationship between science, technology, diplomacy, and international relations.
However, this is a complex interface to navigate, with many contradicting scientific and diplomatic interests at play. Training the future generation of boundary-spanning leaders in science diplomacy is an important first step for Canada to lead this transformation.
The Science Diplomacy Training Programme offers an interactive introductory workshop in four parts and a plenary guest lecture:
  • Part 1: Understanding science diplomacy. An introduction to the history and theoretical frameworks of science diplomacy, the wide range of stakeholders and networks involved, its purposes and applications to national, regional and global issues.
  • Part 2: Practical case studies provided by Mehrdad Hariri (CSPC), Marga Gual Soler and Lorenzo Melchor
  • Part 3: Co-creating science diplomacy approaches for Canada (Interactive discussion in plenary or breakout groups about science diplomacy approaches on the Canadian Policy Fellows’ topics; Overview of activities and key science diplomacy skills)
  • Part 4: A glimpse into science diplomacy careers (From Biomedical Research to Science Diplomacy: Short career presentations by Marga and Lorenzo)
  • Guest Lecture: The Role of Science, Technology, and Innovation in Advising Governments, Advancing Diplomacy, and Contributing to Sustainability by E. William Colglazier. Science Diplomacy is a powerful tool for advancing diplomacy and for advancing science. Foreign Ministries are now paying close attention — opportunities exist for scientists at all levels to contribute. After briefly talking about his career path, William will focus on key issues for science diplomacy in the aftermath of COVID-19.
Mitacs Fellows acquire a basic understanding of the complexity of the intersection of science, technology and innovation with foreign policy, international affairs, geopolitics and global governance. Through interactive debates and brainstorming exercises, fellows develop skills to navigate this transboundary field. Altogether, this experience may help them make the most out of their policy fellowship.
Learning goals:
  • An introduction into science diplomacy: evolution in history, definitions and conceptual frameworks, main stakeholders, actors and networks, landmark examples/applications, and its importance in times of COVID-19, climate crisis, and the 2030 Agenda.
  • An appreciation of science diplomacy in the Canadian context, and the challenges and opportunities to improve Canada’s standing on the world stage from the fellows’ own domains of work and fields of expertise.
  • Develop skills for engaging in science diplomacy through practical case studies and interactive debates.
  • An overview of career paths and professional opportunities in science diplomacy

On behalf of the Canadian Science Policy Centre, Mehrdad Hariri, President and CEO forwarded the positive feedback:

The knowledge that you shared is invaluable, and provided Fellows with the critical tools they will use in their 12-month placements. Over the course of three days, we saw the Fellows get to know their cohort as they interacted with you and each other. We are thankful to you for providing not only core skill development and insights, but for enabling the attendees to build their strong network of peers.

Image credit: Image by Alain Audet from Pixabay.

S4D4C Team

Posted by S4D4C Team