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Global Health & Diplomacy Workshop

In February 2020, consortium partner University of Vienna (Department of Political Science, Center for the Study of Contemporary Solidarity – CeSCoS) hosted an international and interdisciplinary workshop titled Global Health & Diplomacy: Configurations of Knowledge, Power and Policy. The event was organized by the InsSciDE work package on Health, and was the second of InsSciDE’s thematic seminars following the 2019 archeology seminar.


InsSciDE’s Work Package 5 - Health organized the workshop at the University of Vienna. Pictured are Muriel Le Roux, Anna Pichelstorfer, Katharina Paul, Pascal Griset, Katerina Vlantoni, Céline Paillette. Click here to read each of their case study ’pitches’.

The event brought together scholars researching public health and diplomacies in interdisciplinary panels, mingling factions from across the social sciences (political science, international relations, anthropology and STS) and humanities (history of medicine, science and technology). InsSciDE case study authors from the Health work package presented their research in dialogue with other researchers, covering cases such as antimicrobial resistance, vaccination, and diagnostic technologies for newly emerging diseases. The event built on an ongoing collaboration with SONAR GLOBAL, an EU project that mobilizes social sciences against infectious threats.

The workshop featured discussions of historical and contemporary instances of health diplomacy and served to identify the practices, discourses, and infrastructures that enable or hamper international and global cooperation. Moreover, the interdisciplinary composition of panels allowed for a critical exploration of new forms of diplomacy within global health, including ‘networked diplomacy’ and ‘data diplomacy’, as presented by InsSciDErs Katharina Paul and Anna Pichelstorfer, as well ‘bioinformational diplomacy’, which Stefan Elbe highlighted as an essential practice in preventing and controlling global outbreaks. The variety of cases examined demonstrated that different forms, actors and instruments of health diplomacy may be needed, which requires flexibility to adapt to but also carefully reflect upon different temporal and contextual requirements of diplomatic practices. Michaela Told, an expert in global health diplomacy and independent consultant highlighted blind spots in both research and practice and emphasized the necessity to explore health diplomatic instruments as functions of power and governance. These dimensions will be explored in the context of this year’s summer school the Warsaw Science Diplomacy School, where Health work package member Muriel Le Roux will use her case to develop strategies and policies with science diplomats in training for tackling global challenges.

Serving as a bridge between theory and practice, the workshop was punctuated by a roundtable discussion with Dr Reinhild Strauss of the Austrian Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health, and Consumer Protection and Dr Michaela Told, a global health diplomacy consultant and instructor, as well as InsSciDE’s coordinator and President of the Historical Committee of Inserm (From Science to Health) Pascal Griset. This roundtable particularly helped in identifying changes and continuities in health diplomacy, and also displayed the different temporalities that shape sanitary actions – the comparison between long-term antimicrobial stewardship and short term sanitary measures in the current case of COVID-19 (a new variant of the Corona Virus) was particularly insightful for both academics and practitioners.

Curious about who was there? Click here to view the program.


Published 20 February 2020

Global Health & Diplomacy: Configurations of Knowledge, Power and Policy
10-11 February 2020, University of Vienna
Organized by: InsSciDE Work Package 5 - Health
Contact: Katharina T. Paul (katharina.t.paul@univie.ac.at), Anna Pichelstorfer (anna.pichelstorfer@univie.ac.at)

Discover the case study ’pitches’ of the Health work package