Science Diplomacy from a Journalist's Perspective

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SciDev.Net Director David Dickson. Presented at CRDF Global’s Science Diplomacy Boot camp for Journalists; Thursday July 14, at the New York Academy of Sciences.

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  • Slight modification to the original title. Originally this said: How the Internet can put science at the heart of development. However I would argue that it is already doing it.
  • Science Diplomacy from a Journalist's Perspective

    1. 1. Science Diplomacy from a Journalist’s Perspective Science Diplomacy Boot Camp for Journalists New York Academy of Science, 15 July 2011 David Dickson , Director, SciDev.Net
    2. 2. www.scidev.net <ul><li>Background : </li></ul><ul><li>Science is an increasingly important component of international relations because of the growth of knowledge economies, and the application of science to solving critical social problems. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore … </li></ul><ul><li>Science diplomacy stories require increased attention in any reporting on the dynamics of these relations. </li></ul>
    3. 6. www.scidev.net What makes a science diplomacy story?
    4. 7. www.scidev.net <ul><li>A ‘science diplomacy’ story must have : </li></ul><ul><li>A solid scientific or technological dimension (i.e. must include promoting science and technology, either specifically or generically) </li></ul><ul><li>A broader political/diplomatic dimension, i.e. a motivation that goes beyond the purely practical, and reflects social or political interests and objectives </li></ul>
    5. 8. www.scidev.net <ul><li>Scientific/technical dimension can include : </li></ul><ul><li>Promoting a particular field of science or technology (e.g. regional climate models) </li></ul><ul><li>Promoting a specific scientific or technological goal or project (e.g. a malaria vaccine) </li></ul><ul><li>Promoting the capacity to produce science and technology (e.g. building skills in ICTs) </li></ul>
    6. 9. www.scidev.net <ul><li>Political/diplomatic dimension can include : </li></ul><ul><li>Enabling the social and economic development of states through the promotion of science and technology </li></ul><ul><li>Enhancing political and economic relations between states </li></ul><ul><li>Stabilising post-conflict situations </li></ul>
    7. 10. www.scidev.net <ul><li>‘ Scientific’ test for a science diplomacy story : </li></ul><ul><li>Is the science or technology involved robust (no window dressing)? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the science/technology involved genuinely meet needs of both partners (no ‘science for its own sake’)? </li></ul><ul><li>Do both partners have the scientific capacity and resources to deliver on commitments under the agreement (no empty promises)? </li></ul>
    8. 11. www.scidev.net <ul><li>‘ Political’ test for a science diplomacy story : </li></ul><ul><li>Are the motivations of each partner (or set of partners) explicit? </li></ul><ul><li>Does any partner have a “hidden agenda” that is not being declared (e.g China in Africa)? </li></ul><ul><li>Do the interests of one partner dominate over that of the other (e.g. clinical trials in developing countries)? </li></ul>
    9. 12. www.scidev.net <ul><li>‘ Solid’ science diplomacy stories : </li></ul><ul><li>Partnership programmes between universities (aimed at capacity building with no broader motive) </li></ul><ul><li>Africa’s Consolidate Plan of Action (a science blueprint aimed at cementing both scientific and economic relations) </li></ul><ul><li>Science-driven aid projects intended to stabilise post-conflict situations, e.g. in Rwanda or Arab States </li></ul>
    10. 14. www.scidev.net <ul><li>‘ Less solid’ science diplomacy stories : </li></ul><ul><li>Signing of empty science and technology agreements with no programme detail or specific budget (i.e. politics masquerading as science) </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative agreements of no obvious social or economic value (science masquerading as politics) </li></ul><ul><li>Agreements where the benefits are skewed in favour of the stronger partner (politics being expressed through science) </li></ul>
    11. 16. www.scidev.net <ul><li>Conclusions : </li></ul><ul><li>Science must be robust (check with experts in the field) </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific outcomes must be desired by each partner in an agreement (check on how goals are selected) </li></ul><ul><li>Scientific benefits must be shared equitably (check on how outcomes are shared) </li></ul><ul><li>Political interests must be explicit (check for hidden agendas). </li></ul>
    12. 17. www.scidev.net <ul><li>Remember : </li></ul><ul><li>Robust science diplomacy stories are those in which the sciene is strong, and both scientific and socieconomic goals are equitably shared by each partner </li></ul><ul><li>Suspect science diplomacy stories are those in which science masquerades as politics, or politics masquerades as science </li></ul>
    13. 18. For more details visit: www.scidev.net/sciencediplomacy www.scidev.net To sign up for free weekly emails , visit

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