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WSDS 2021: Get to know the case studies

The second edition of Warsaw Science Diplomacy School is coming in June 2021, where we’ll dive even deeper into the skills, systems and practices lining the path from Wissenschaft to Statecraft.

Click here to learn more and find out how to apply or nominate a candidate to represent your institution.

This year, four InsSciDE case study authors will be sharing their research, spanning domains of vaccine diplomacy, space exploration, international nuclear fusion research and heritage preservation. Additionally, a special open session on Monday 21 June will showcase a study of UK-EU environmental diplomacy in the 1980s by Simone Turchetti.

Constructing ITER: Reciprocity and compromise in fusion science diplomacy

Anna Åberg
Chalmers University of Technology | Sweden

Anna Åberg explores the intricacies of navigating the large controlled thermonuclear fusion experiment ITER currently being built in Cadarache, France. ITER is one of the world’s largest technoscientific collaborations, yet its complex organisation and cumbersome logistics have even its proponents admitting that things probably should have been done otherwise. Anna delves deeper into the decisions taken during the negotiation phases of the project showing the importance of reciprocity and compromise in the organizational decisions taken then, when compromises had to be found that were acceptable for the involved Parties on both a diplomatic and scientific level. How far can science diplomacy go before it compromises the practice of scientific work? And to what extent is compromise needed to make a project such as ITER materialise at all?

Space diplomacy in the Cold War context: Cooperation vs. competition

Olga Dubrovina
University of Padua | Italy

Olga Dubrovina explores the repercussions of international relations in space during the Cold War. Space was the site of both competition and cooperation between the two antagonist blocks: embodying the typical tensions of the period, yet representing the possibility of participation in a common framework of exploration and use of space. Olga dissects several pivotal actions and moments to illuminate often implicit science/space diplomacy. To what extent did space engineers and designers influence the policies of the Soviet leadership and what was their role in the decision-making process? What was the connection between Charles de Gaulle’s anti-Atlanticism and the French satellite SRET brought into orbit by the Soviet launcher Molnia in 1972? In what ways did docking Soyuz-Apollo change the international political climate in 1975 and revolutionize technological systems in both the USSR and the USA? What effect did the geopolitical situation have on the exchange of information and sharing of scientific research in the context of the international conferences organized by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and International Astronautical Federation (IAF)?

The workers’ strike of 1963 at the German excavation of Tell Chuera: An example of the persistence of colonial practices in Near Eastern Archaeology?

Tobias Helms
University of Mainz | Germany

The archaeological sub-discipline of Near Eastern Archaeology (german: Vorderasiatische Archäologie) developed during the era of colonialism and imperialism, when South West Asia became the focus of attention for the major European powers. Artefacts of ancient civilizations retrieved from these parts of the world through archaeological excavations were shipped to the major museums of the European capitals. Here, the objects did not only spark public as well as academic interest in Mesopotamia’s past but also served as tokens of national pride. While the implications of archaeological fieldwork during the era of colonialism have become the subject of critical research, the continuation of colonial practices in Near Eastern Archaeology during the post-colonial era has been studied to a far lesser extent. By focusing on one particular example, the strike of Bedouin workers at the German excavation of Tell Chuera (North Syria) in 1963, Tobias Helms will outline the power relations and conflict-solving mechanisms between the German archaeologists and their local hired work crew. He will raise the question whether the actions taken by the German team in response to the strike simply attest to a chain of events slipping out of control or if they can be understood as an example of (neo-) colonialist conduct. A presentation of the case study leads into the more general discussion on how to deal with the colonial past’s impact on the production of knowledge in the context of scientific fieldwork abroad.

The role of data in global vaccination governance: a matter for health diplomacy

Anna Pichelstorfer
University of Vienna | Austria

Infectious diseases are transnational matters, yet the development of the related policies remains largely within the remit of individual countries. Vaccination policy is a paradigmatic instance of a clear policy dilemma: how can supranational actors such as the European Union (EU) and international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) intervene in and support vaccination policy despite their limited remit? Anna Pichelstorfer will share the findings of her and Katharina Paul’s research, showing that data practices play a key role, both as an object of and a means towards health diplomacy. Using vaccination coverage rates as a case study, she’ll demonstrate that health metrics enable political collaboration, and that the production of public health expertise is closely linked with the establishment of political authority.


BONUS CASE An additional case study will be presented in WSDS’s open session on Monday 21 June. More information coming soon!

Bojo, Brussels and Brexit: charting the environmental diplomacy ancestry of Britain’s separation from the EU

Simone Turchetti
University of Manchester | United Kingdom

Simone Turchetti looks for clues on the origins of Brexit by taking us to Brussels in the late 1980s. The current UK Prime Minister and staunch supporter of the ’Leave’ campaign, Boris Johnson, was there as a young journalist. While Johnson was actively criticizing the European Commission as a Daily Telegraph correspondent, his father Stanley Johnson was the Commission’s chief environmental adviser. Simone will explore their competing positions as well as the diplomatic activities and conflicts that laid the foundations for the European Union’s environmental provisions. While set in a time when there was no prospect of Britain leaving the Union, the case history shows the lineage of some of the issues raised during the Brexit campaign. In fact, even the environmental risks that British citizens are likely to face after leaving the Union can be better understood with a closer look at what happened in Brussels thirty years ago…

Warsaw Science Diplomacy School
Online | 21-25 June 2021