The S4D4C project is coming to an end and so we currently reflect a lot on our activities and impacts. In January, we also launched a “concluding survey” to collect information about our community and its understanding of science diplomacy as well as new data on the connection between science diplomacy and COVID-19. This survey was promoted via social media and mailings and accessible from our S4D4C Website from January 7 to February 21, 2021. We would like to thank everyone who shared their thoughts.
Who answered our questions?
189 people completed the survey. The number of EU- and Non-EU-participants is almost equally distributed among the respondents: 50.8% are located in EU Member States and 49. 2% from non-EU countries. Also, the breakdown by genders is rather equal: 46.6% are female, 50.3% male. Most of the respondents are mid-career level (47.6%), followed by senior-level or retired respondents (29.1%) and the smallest group are respondents in an early career stage (23.3%). There are some interesting aspects about the home countries: With 13.8%, the greatest proportion of our community comes from Spain. We have also been exceptionally successful to disseminate our survey in Colombia (7.9%). These numbers hint at the excellent outreach of our Spanish speaking partners at FECYT and that one of our colleagues, Gonzalo Ordóñez-Matamoros, is based in Colombia. Other considerable shares are respondents from Germany (6.3%), Austria (5.8%), France (5.3%) and Italy (4.8%) – also countries where one or more of our project partners are based.
“Science diplomats” in our community
Almost half of the respondents consider themselves explicitly as ‘science diplomats’ when asked to assess themselves – and 50.8% reacted neutral or negative. This shows that we reached a very specific group which is important to know when further evaluating the answers.
Strategic approaches to Science Diplomacy in the respective home countries
Respondents from the EU-Member States believe more often that their home country has a strategic approach to science diplomacy than citizens of non-EU-member countries:
The importance of non-governmental stakeholders and the SSH
42.9% of our respondents ‘strongly agree’ with the position that non-governmental stakeholders are equally important as governmental stakeholders for science diplomacy. An additional 38.6% ‘agree’ with this position and so overall more than 80% consider non-governmental stakeholders as equally important for science diplomacy. In general, scientists agree more often than the other professions (i.e. diplomats, administrators and policymakers or others), while no particular difference is between the respondents from EU- and Non-EU countries.
We also asked our respondents if they agree that social sciences and humanities play an equally important role and received a quite overwhelmingly positive response (more than 88% agree or strongly agree).
What has changed in the past three years?
In general, our respondents believe science diplomacy was strengthened in different areas. The following are the five statements where most often improvements were diagnosed:
- Understanding the concept of science diplomacy
- Community of active science diplomacy scholars and practitioners
- Training of science diplomats
- EU contribution to solution of global challenges
- Public debate about science diplomacy
Science diplomacy and the COVID-19 crisis
In the survey, we also asked if the COVID-19 crisis changed the perception of science diplomacy and science diplomats. Our respondents clearly decided the perception changed for the better due to COVID-19, about 62.4% take this view. We compared these results between scientists and other professions and identified that scientists are more convinced that the perception of science diplomacy/diplomats changed for the better because of the COVID-19 crisis. The other professions are more neutral.
We also evaluated if participants who consider themselves as science diplomats have a more favourable opinion about the first question (the perception of SD) and indeed they are convinced that it indeed changed for the better (73.1% of the science diplomats share this opinion). Altogether, the shared perception is that during the COVID-19 crisis, the position of science diplomacy and science diplomats was strengthened.
Recommendations for the science diplomacy community
Last but not least, we asked about concrete recommendations for the science diplomacy community and the highest-ranked are the following:
- Better coordination between foreign ministries and research/education ministries
- More science management positions related to international affairs and/or public policies
- Strengthened international science advice mechanisms
- Strengthened informal science diplomacy networks
Once again, we would like to thank everyone who took part in this poll which was not part of the research project but helped us with input to several tasks, such as the organisation of several sessions at the final conference (e.g. the one on COVID-19), the launch of the EU Science Diplomacy Alliance and which areas to focus on as well as the project’s impact assessment report.