Science & Diplomacy: What Scientists Can do on a Global Stage (Spring 2021)

Mandë Holford (Biology, Chemistry, and Biochemistry, Hunter College and the Graduate Center)
Shirley Raps (Biology, Hunter College and The Graduate Center)

Spring 2021, Wednesdays, 10:10am
Course Number: IDS 81670

The challenges that scientists today encounter are more complex and far-reaching than ever before. This introductory course invites the early career scientific community to consider the role and responsibility of science in diplomacy and peace building. This role can manifest at multiple levels: individual scientists should adhere to a set of responsible/ethical research practices, and the international communities of scientists and diplomats must come together to negotiate agreements to place restrictions on scientists engaging in research that could be considered ‘dual-use’, while promoting research for peaceful purposes. Essential to success for scientists are skills for problem solving, seeking alternative creative approaches, finding win/win opportunities, building trust and consensus, and communicating in thoughtful and persuasive ways. But these skills have not been conceived in the context of the worlds of diplomacy and international security, nor are they usually part of the learning pathway for most scientists. There is therefore a need to “hack” the application of these skills for diplomacy and international security. If we want to help young scientists engage in solving global challenges that threaten society, such as the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we must give them the tools they need to do so with sensitivity and dexterity. This course will exposes its participants to critical science leadership skills, and provide them with a tool kit to augment their impact as scientists and science diplomats. The course uses role playing and experiential field visits to reinforce the participants bond as a network of young scientists, inspire them to interact and add value to their communities and importantly, to be prepared to extend the mission of the Future Initiative by fostering deeper conversations and connections about the future of higher education and educational innovation.

The shorthand term Science Diplomacy (SD) spans wide-ranging activities connecting science and technology with international affairs. The goals of the course are to help early career scientists: (a) think more systematically about the global potential of their work, including ethical, political, and economic implications; and (b) become acquainted with the people, networks, and resources available for scientific cooperation, including those nations with whom cooperation may be especially difficult.

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