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Why Science Diplomacy?

InsSciDE devises a process through which new knowledge on past and present science diplomacy in Europe fuels the elaboration of shared policy and training tools.

Science diplomacy takes place when states call upon science and scientists to help advance foreign relations; when scientists and their institutions become involved in diplomacy to help advance science, technology, and innovation; or when these actors join forces to resolve conflict on a transnational scale. InsSciDE researchers invite practitioners to explore what could – or should – be the science diplomacy of the European Union and to formulate recommendations for the harmonious division of competencies between the member states and their Union.

InsSciDE aims to reveal and foster Europe’s capital of science diplomacy experience. Themes of historical and critical study include Heritage, Health, Security, Environment, and Space. InsSciDE will also write the contemporary history of diplomats’ networks and of roles played by National Academies of Science or Technology. Scientists and diplomats will meet to better understand each other and forge a common culture. Interactive seminars and summer schools provide a dozen opportunities over the course of four years (2018-2021) to network, reflect, and participate in creating a shared science diplomacy for Europe.

A so-called global ’apocalyptic imagination’ (Beck, 2009), composed of the borderless threats of climate change, infectious diseases, energy security, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and large scale migrations, pushes the European Union to redefine and reinforce its role for citizens as the most efficient transnational problem solver (Boin et al., 2013). The EU targets world leadership in the promotion and preservation of global public goods. It intends to use effective multilateralism and collective responsibility to foster ’sustainable development of the Earth, solidarity and mutual respect among peoples’ (Treaty of Lisbon, 2007).

The European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS, 2016) provide the Union with an instrument and a roadmap for foreign policy action. Science diplomacy, however, remains much under the sovereignty of Member States, and actual efforts to interface science and diplomacy have given birth to a wide variety of responses in Europe.

In Europe, science diplomacy today is fragmented, heterogeneous and under-utilized. Instances of cross-national coordination exist but are mostly informal. In this context, what European science diplomacy is – or could be – is still unclear to policy-makers and to the public. A variety of options may be retained by Europe in the future: promoting science diplomacy at Member States level, connecting national science diplomacies, better interfacing European science with European diplomacy, energetically incorporating science into the European Union Global Strategy (currently the EUGS contains just a single passing reference to ’science’). Whatever the future choices, there is crucial need for a knowledge base on the existing European capital. To what degree and in what forms has science diplomacy in Europe emerged, where has it succeeded or failed, which forces overcome national divergences on the global scene? There are no comprehensive responses to these queries, and therefore no clear starting point for the development of effectively European science diplomacy.

To identify and address questions like those at left, InsSciDE proposes a highly interactive process in direct collaboration with practitioners and other stakeholders of science diplomacy.

The 4-year research and engagement process develops a substantial knowledge base, draws lessons, formulates strategic guidance, and prototypes training for new actors. In this way, InsSciDE delivers knowledge and insight, and creates relationships and networks furthering the emergence of effective European science diplomacy.

Overall, the project engages a shared process of invention.