The set of knowledge and skills required to perform as science diplomats is broad and depends on the starting background (STEM or international affairs) of the individual. To begin with, a basic understanding of international science, technology and innovation landscape is required if you come from a diplomatic background, likewise knowledge of foreign policy and international relations if you come from a STEM background is essential:
Scientists should learn the fundamentals of history, politics, public policy, economics and international relations theory, as well as develop a basic understanding of multilateral organisations and principles of international law governing international spaces, global commons and transnational issues where science plays a key role (in particular for environmental sciences).
For diplomats, developing an understanding of the scientific method and the culture and processes of scientific research (publication, peer-review, funding mechanisms, etc.) is key to help establish international research collaborations from embassies and foreign ministries, as well as understanding international scientific institutions, emerging technologies and the scientific basis for negotiations and agreements.
In addition, scientists and diplomats would benefit from joint education in cross-cutting issues, such as a deeper understanding of global scientific governance and the interaction between science, technology and innovation and its repercussions onto the economy and geopolitics.
So-called ‘boundary skills’ for effective communication and connection between the two worlds include negotiation, project management, intercultural sensitivity, networking, storytelling, languages, and science literacy.