cussed how effective collaboration in science and technology can advance broader U.S. foreign policy objectives.
Although science and technology have long played a role in U.S. foreign relations, they are receiving renewed emphasis from the current administration. One indicator of the overall importance of science is the recruitment of several Nobel laureates to fill key executive branch positions, including Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, National Cancer Institute Director Harold Varmus, and Office of Science and Technology Policy Associate Director of Science Carl Wieman.
President Obama (2009) laid out the broad philosophical context for international research cooperation in a speech at the National Academy of Sciences: “So many of the challenges that science and technology will help us meet are global in character…. That is why my administration is ramping up participation in and our commitment to international science and technology cooperation across the many areas where it is clearly in our interest to do so.” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has reinforced this commitment. For example, she has stated (2009) that “science diplomacy and science and technology cooperation between the U.S. and other countries is one of our most effective ways of influencing and assisting other nations and creating real bridges between the United States and counterparts.”
Mr. Gumbiner explained that international cooperation in science and technology delivers several concrete benefits to the United States. The first benefit is that it opens doors. In many countries where political and economic relations with the United States are difficult or complex, scientists can and do work together to find answers and promote human advancements. This was true in the case of science and technology collaboration during the Cold War with countries behind the Iron Curtain, and the same is true today in relations with countries such as Cuba, Syria, and Iran.
The second benefit is problem solving. Many pressing global challenges have a scientific or technological component. Researchers gain greater access to information, ideas, and facilities through international collaboration. This can facilitate a more rapid advancement of knowledge and discoveries.
A third benefit of international science and technology collaboration is that it builds lasting relationships. While science has always transcended borders, the current level of global interaction among scientists is unprecedented. The communications revolution and today’s open innovation model allow scientists to partner with colleagues worldwide. Even in the heavily networked world of today, face-to-face meetings still play a critical