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Summer Talks by DHST Commission on ST&D

In July 2020, the DHST Commission on Science, Technology and Diplomacy organized two separate online events that bridged science diplomacy studies across the world with original sessions formats. Several historians of the InsSciDE project are involved in the Commission and participated in the events with presentations that corresponded to their InsSciDE research.

Organizer Simone Turchetti, President of the Commission and InsSciDE expert in WP Environment, shares an account below of the experiences of the two events - ‘Science in 1970: A Transnational History of Fifty Years Ago’ and ’Science Diplomacy: Global Online Workshop’.

As the study of science diplomacy becomes more popular, it is important that new ways to promote it outside Europe are found. This matters in terms of extending the dialogue on its historical trajectory and objectives to scholars from other regions and, also, to develop new narratives and interpretations that originate in non-European viewpoints and approaches. These ambitions are central to the DHST Commission on Science, Technology and Diplomacy activities (some of its members are involved in InsSciDE too) and distinctive of two recently promoted successful online events.

The first was a virtual world tour on 7 July, which in two hours took the attendees of the BSHS Global Online History of Science Festival from Nairobi to Greenland via Tokyo, Vienna, and Boston to discuss science in 1970. Eighteen speakers delivered five-minute presentations to talk about events in their own countries that took place fifty years ago and had global repercussions. The journey started with a visualization of scientific collaboration data showing the dominance of US science across the globe at the time and the imbalanced distribution of research resources. It was followed by presentations exploring diplomacy tensions engrained in programs in ocean, space and nuclear research.

Matthew Adamson, whose research for InsSciDE explores the activities of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Morocco, honed in on the agency’s science diplomacy practices in 1970. Sam Robinson, who recently captivated students with discussions around the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as an instructor in InsSciDE’s Warsaw Science Diplomacy School, focused on the period of exploration that came just before the 1973 convention. Simone Turchetti, whose InsSciDE research traces origins of environmental monitoring in Europe, presented a take on whether the study of science diplomacy begun in 1970.

The contributors are now busy turning the pocket-size talks in a co-authored academic paper.

Check out the recording of the full event to get a feel for this globetrotting and time-traveling episode.

The second event, held on 23 July, was an online workshop covering science diplomacy cases from East Asia to Brazil and discussing eighteen early career scholars’ work in progress on subjects ranging from the rise of environmental diplomacy in South Korea to Cold War détente efforts through coordination on the search for extra-terrestrial life, and the current role of science diplomacy in fostering agricultural research in Ghana. The presentations were sandwiched by a roundtable promoting an exchange on sources that could foster science diplomacy studies especially since archives are now less accessible due to the COVID crisis.

The workshop ended with a general meeting in which Commission organizers and presenters considered ways to connect more to distant scholars and practitioners. Certainly an appropriate way to end two good examples of engagement with a global reach.

Images from the session ’Science in 1970: A Transnational History of Fifty Years Ago’: slides from Sam Robinson and Matthew Adamson’s presentations, and Simone Turchetti introducing the countries to be visited on the virtual global tour of science diplomacy.


Published 30 July 2020

‘Science in 1970: A Transnational History of Fifty Years Ago’ and ’Global Online Workshop’

Organizer: DHST Commission on Science, Technology and Diplomacy

Learn more about the InsSciDE researchers who participated: