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WSDS21: DAY 4 – Strategy and deliverable presentations

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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WSDS21: DAY 4 – Strategy and deliverable presentations

The fourth and most intensive day consisted of a lecture on the fundamentals of strategy, small-group discussions and interdisciplinary teamwork, culminating in plenary presentations by each of the student teams on a deliverable of hypothetical SD strategic advice.

In the strategy lecture, Björn Fägersten illustrated the dilemmas of formulating and implementing a strategy by telling the story of the Swedish king in the 18th century bestowing upon a scientist the task of creating a new way to grow oaks for building navy ships. The product was clever: a massive plantation where oaks were bent to grow into the shape of a specific ship part so that manufacturing meant just assembling ready-shaped parts. But by the time the oaks were ready to harvest 200 years later, Sweden had not been at war in 150 years and steel had long ago replaced wood as the primary building material of ships. This miscalculation of geopolitical and technological advancements is indicative of the importance of considering both the past and the future in plotting a strategy.

Fägersten summarized the main impact and application of history on the present as a source of knowledge, to motivate or mobilize for a cause (like a war), or as bias. He also emphasized that strategies always have consequence, whether good or bad, and one goal of effective strategy planning is to anticipate and adapt to them as well as possible. He also outlined six EU strategic objectives for strengthening European science diplomacy:

  1. Strengthen a free and vibrant European scientific community
  2. Agree principles of scientific cooperation in an era of regime divergence and competition
  3. Foster capabilities for and a culture of scientific advice in foreign policymaking
  4. Increase cohesion in EU level efforts
  5. Increase cohesion among EU and member state efforts
  6. Leverage potential science diplomacy facilitators

The students’ assignment for the day was to consolidate advise for pursuing one or two of these objectives in the context of their case studies – ITER, space, archaeology, and health. After group ‘coaching’ with Fägersten and Bertelsen, further discussion with their case study authors, and independent group work, the teams presented their advice and received feedback from subject matter experts.

Team ITER responded to Objective #2 with recommendations on improving efficiency and utility of the ITER research project. Their advice included formalizing exit/renegotiation strategies to mitigate intergenerational conflicts from political and demographic shifts and economic changes among member states or management. To address both Objectives #2 and #3, they suggested improving science communication for ITER with emphasis on common values and mutual benefits in the project.

Team Space addressed Objective #2 by introducing a system of openness levels to be applied to various forms of scientific cooperation. For instance, fundamental sciences might be classed as level 1 (complete openness – data, funding and methods are shared) and research with commercial applications might be level 3 (only final products are shared, like research papers or final technology). In regard to Objective #5, they suggested member states create focal points for SD to help align SD strategies and identify any conflicts between national and EU efforts.

Team Heritage tackled Objective #4 with advice such as to develop and upgrade common guidelines and codes of conduct for working with foreign scientists and carrying out research abroad (to be adopted by scientists in member states). For Objective #6, they recommended instituting networking sessions between ‘SD facilitators’ such as universities, civil societies, NGOs, scientific advisors and diplomats.

Team Health connected Objectives #1 and #5 by encouraging unified health data standards in the EU and investing in better communication mechanisms for scientists across Europe. Basing their position on their case study, they argued that better data and science communication contributes to better informed policy-making which contributes to better (joint) response on health.

Select Session Recordings:


Linking the Past, Present and Future in Science Diplomacy Strategy
Lecturer: Björn Fägersten
The Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI) | Sweden


12 July 2021
D.Palmberg

WSDS21: DAY 4 – Strategy and deliverable presentations

Program:

  • Linking the Past, Present and Future in Science
    Diplomacy Strategy
    Check out the recording below
  • Strategy Coaching in Groups
  • Case Study Team Discussion and Deliverable Preparation
  • Pre-Presentation Stretching
  • Strategy Exercise: Case Team Deliverables and
    Specialist Feedback