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WSDS21: DAY 2 – Historical Case Studies of SD

Building on successes from Warsaw Science Diplomacy School 2020, this year’s training program by InsSciDE dove even deeper into the skills, systems and practices lining the path ’from Wissenschaft to Statecraft’.

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DAY 2 – Historical case studies of SD

On Day 2, InsSciDE researchers presented the four historical cases of SD to be placed at the heart of WSDS (part of the 24 case studies that underscore the InsSciDE project).

The cases – on topics of nuclear energy research, space diplomacy, archaeological research and vaccine diplomacy – spurred first discussions on the constellation of actors, interests and obstacles involved in implicit or explicit SD.

Anna Åberg outlined the complex manufacturing, management and decision-making structure behind ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), the result of constant compromise and reciprocity in the 35-nation science and engineering project. Her full case study is now published!

Olga Dubrovina dissected the multifaceted phenomenon of Soviet space diplomacy, which not only entailed political, economic and national security implications, but also had potent impacts on cultural industries and Soviet ideological power. By looking at the international and scientific frameworks employed in this period, we can better understand the present and its dilemmas in space exploration.

Tobias Helms used field notes to reconstruct the events leading up to a strike by local workers at the German excavation site of Tell Chuera, Syria, in 1963. Examining the incident is an effective springboard for broader debate and awareness of ethical concerns tied to Western researchers working in formerly colonized states with local populations, from fair salaries to the rightful beneficiaries of scientific results.

Anna Pichelstorfer homed in on the crucial aspect of gathering and sharing data for health diplomacy initiatives. For instance, being able to compare data on immunization coverage and programs on a global scale has shed light on the stark inequities in health, enabling the World Health Organization to push for international coordination and narrowly direct its initiatives to be as effective as possible.

In the afternoon, members of the EU Science Diplomacy Allianceand the new Norway-EU Science Diplomacy Network, established by WSDS Director Rasmus Bertelsen, discussed different avenues through which we can pursue SD or develop related resources, such as multistakeholder fora, university partnerships, education initiatives, or networks like the ones they represented.

Elke Dall of the recently established EU SD Alliance and former Coordinator of S4D4C spoke of the Alliance’s objective to cooperate across institutions on anything from SD training and events to conceptual research and policy recommendations. Alexey Pavlov discussed the role of Arctic Frontiers in fostering high-level and multi-stakeholder dialogues on science and science policy in the Arctic, as well as their prominent education and awareness initiatives. (See their call for papers, open until 1 September 2021.)

Edvard Hviding recounted successfully building SD channels at the highest levels of ocean policy and governance, previously focused on the Pacific and small island states (“big ocean states”) and most recently as the Scientific Director of SDG Bergen, the SD strategic initiative of University of Bergen (Norway) and a UN Hub for SDG 14, Life below water. Dag Rune Olsen, Rector of UiT The Arctic University and former rector of University of Bergen, emphasized the importance of universities in SD, both as producers and communicators of knowledge as well as channels for dialogue and cooperation when official diplomatic relations are strained.

With the student audience dispersed across the globe, the subsequent discussion naturally gravitated towards the importance of connecting scientists and SD actors across regional and inequality gaps. Dall highlighted that institutions from anywhere in the world are welcome to apply to the Alliance, with non-EU members (‘Global Networking Partners’) differing only from EU members by an inability to serve as the Chair.

Select Session Recordings:

Constructing ITER: Reciprocity and compromise in fusion science diplomacy
Anna Åberg
Chalmers University of Technology | Sweden

Space diplomacy in the Cold War context: Cooperation vs. competition
Olga Dubrovina
University of Padua | Italy

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 role of data in global vaccination governance: a matter for health diplomacy
Anna Pichelstorfer
University of Vienna | Austria

12 July 2021
D. Palmberg

WSDS21: DAY 2 – Historical case studies of SD


  • Four Historical SD Cases Study Presentations
    Check out all four recordings below
  • ChaCha Slide
  • Case Study Team Discussions
  • Introducing the EU SD Alliance and the NO-EU SD Network