Clarity and transparency are important. The kinds of things many of us are doing can help in improving people’s lives. But it is not always clear that it is a good idea to label it “diplomacy.”
John Boright, Executive Director, International Affairs, U.S. NAS
Diplomacy is also seen as the science or art of avoiding difficulties and successfully engaging in a dialogue with others; thus, it is not surprising that many workshop participants regarded science diplomacy as a useful means of global engagement. As Vaughan Turekian stated, science is a good way to engage with people from other countries, because it provides a common language, is collaborative, addresses major societal challenges, and is based on common methods (peer review, for example). But participants noted that, at the same time, global scientific engagement, if called diplomacy, can be problematic for many U.S. governmental agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), which have mandates to advance science—but not foreign policy. Therefore, there are advantages to using the simple, and accurate, label of advancing science through international cooperation.
Norman Neureiter, first science and technology advisor to the U.S. secretary of state, warned against defining science diplomacy exclusively by the words science and diplomacy together. Instead, it is a more complex concept and can be understood better by considering examples. Several examples from Neureiter’s and others’ extensive experience in international engagement are mentioned in the section “What Has Been Done with Science Diplomacy?” in this chapter.