The choice of parties that are allowed to enter the interaction space is a crucial political act. Furthermore, restricted, exclusive science-diplomatic processes can reduce quality, legitimacy and system-transformative potential of the interactions (cf. Blomgren Bingham 2011). Dominant ‘paradigms’ and commonplace thinking resulting from broad generalizations may lead to exclusion of important views and stakeholders, and subsequently to potential conflict or incompatibilities among actors. Especially when addressing grand challenges, uncertainties stemming from excluded, but potentially influential actors can be fatal (cf. Kuhlmann, Stegmaier, and Konrad 2019). Instead, deliberation among a broad range of actors, domains, and science diplomacy arenas (see Figure 2), which covers all relevant topics, scientific disciplines and scientific approaches (e.g. STEM and SSH; inter-/ transdisciplinarity) will boost the quality and range of knowledge involved in the process as well as the credibility of the process itself (Ewert and Maggetti 2017).

Inclusive Science Diplomacy processes can lead to commitment to change on the part of stakeholders and increase the likelihood of transformative, systemic change when addressing global challenges (cf. Schot and Steinmueller 2018).

This leads to the following principle:

Science diplomatic activities should be aware of different degrees of inclusiveness vs. exclusiveness as well as that inclusion is a political choice and part of the diplomatic game, too. Where useful, involve a broadly representative portion of the relevant scientific and diplomatic communities.

To ensure this principle is considered, ask yourself:

  • Which aspects, how many and which stakeholders should be included?
  • How should inclusion of aspects and stakeholders take shape?
  • Are there aspects and stakeholders that are purposefully or inadvertently excluded from the interaction space?
  • Will the envisioned range of included aspects and stakeholders presumably lead to sufficient legitimacy and support of the science diplomacy interaction?
  • How do inclusion and exclusion of aspects and stakeholders need to be balanced for the activity to be constructive and productive without risking the overarching goals in the short and the long term?


Charlotte Rungius (DZHW) 

The reviewer committee of an international joint research laboratory discusses the statistics of accepted proposals in their yearly meeting. It is composed of researchers coming from the different member countries of the laboratory, including highly industrialized and developing countries. The committee reviews applications for research time submitted by researchers who want to use the laboratory. Reviewer A points to the low acceptance rate of proposals submitted from his fellow countrymen. He claims this could be interpreted as a sign of discrimination. Another reviewer jumps in and holds that the quality of the proposals was simply too weak: “It is crucial to strictly apply principles of scientific excellence in order to ensure the international reputation of the facility. May I remind you: For the reason alone to attract further funding”. However, she agrees on the fact that the low acceptance rate runs counter to the laboratory’s objective to bring together researchers from countries with different educational standards and academic opportunities and to foster mutual learning. After a long night of debate the committee decides to implement anti-discrimination rules in their review procedure and to propose a quota to the council for researchers from disadvantaged countries.

Other relevant principles involved: Capacities, Complementarity and Manoeuvrability

Relation to S4D4C Transversal Case Study Analysis: This principle is derived from the following matters: Explicitness/Implicitness & Interests.

Read more on the matter and on all other matters by clicking on the images below.