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Strengthening Relationships: The Role of Science in Internationalism and Diplomacy

Research is per se international.

It has the power to bring people together irrespective of geographical distances or cultural differences. Despite competitive pressures, researchers around the globe that share common scientific interests largely embrace international collaborations and cherish this extremely positive aspect of the business. But for international science to reach its greatest potential it needs to be promoted, and this is the remit of a large number of organisations around the world. Who exactly is behind the scenes?

Also, science and technology offer real solutions to both national and international problems. But this wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for individuals who understand the concepts and issues at hand on an international scale and can bring reasonable and well-informed debates to the international political table. Where do these people come from and how are they trained?

The heading of internationalism and diplomacy is indeed broad, and over the course of June, Next Wave will illuminate a host of rewarding career possibilities in this field.

We will take you behind the scenes of national funding organisations with international programmes, as well as international organisations entirely dedicated to the promotion of science. Our essayists will also include people working in government science divisions and nongovernmental organisations, and each will illustrate their own role in influencing the policy decision making process at an international level. Those high-profile organisations which are called upon for expert views in the midst of a global crisis will also be in the crop. Finally, we will have stories about embassy life from scientists who are working in a more traditional diplomatic role as science attachés.

The list is long and the career paths are varied. In fact, we have also asked individuals who don't have a natural science background but one in social sciences, humanities, and economics (as a proportion of our readers do) to explain from their perspective how and why they got involved in such a sector and what they can offer professionally to issues related to the natural sciences. In this respect, science knowledge can, in many cases, be acquired on the job. The reverse is also true, natural scientists can learn about social and economic issues. Therefore, the career profiles of people going into these positions are broad. The result can be an extremely stimulating and enriching work environment.

Several clear and united messages are echoing from all quarters. The first is that an increasing number of opportunities are emerging. Second, they will largely appeal to scientists who are happy to leave the highly focused environment of a research lab for a broader remit, i.e., working on the "bigger picture". Undoubtedly the positions are as demanding as rewarding, and they are not devoid of tricky situations--such as perhaps having to promote a policy decision that may not lay 100% comfortably within your own personal beliefs.

Our essayists illustrate how and why they got into these roles, what their positions truly entail, and what makes them stay. We hope that these unvarnished stories guide you to new opportunities where you can combine a passion for science with an interest and aptitude for building and strengthening international and diplomatic relationships.


How Science Shapes My Work in International Relations

Roberta Kacowicz is the first woman and Brazilian to head the regional British Council office in northeast Brazil. She leads the British Council's science communication projects and explains the rewards of professionally nurturing Brazilian and British relationships through science.

From Science Fellowships to Reintegration Grants - Evolving Priorities

NATO's Science Fellowship Programme has been running since the 1950s but was recently replaced by the so-called Reintegration Grant Programme. This funding scheme was conceived both to reduce brain drain of young scientists particularly from Russia and central Asia and to specifically focus on security related research. In this piece, its Programme director, Fausto Pedrazzini , explains why funding priorities have shifted and believes, "that the new grants are practical example of international co-operation, which will contribute to peace, progress and stability".

Life at the (Funding) Frontiers

Martin Reddington works for the Human Frontier Science Program Organization, a funding body with the specific aims of breaking down both geographical and disciplinary barriers. For this reason, and because of his increasing enjoyment of organizational and administrative duties, Martin Reddington, left a permanent group leader position at a Max Planck Institute in Germany to work in the realm of international funding.

Facilitating Science

International collaborations in science don't just happen; someone has to make them happen. NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering, promotes international cooperation in these disciplines throughout the world. Just back from Africa's Lake Tanganyika, NSF's Elizabeth Lyons talks about her work coordinating science in Africa to Next Wave?s North American Editor, Jim Austin.

Searching for and Creating New 'Ways'

Young Hungarian researcher Marta Maczel is a passionate biological anthropologist who has taken part in various mobility and exchange programmes during her postgraduate studies in Europe. She brings this rich experience to the World Academy of Young Scientists (WAYS) - a global forum for young researchers which she is now heading in Budapest. In this piece Marta describes her very rewarding position at WAYS but also discusses her concerns about leaving the bench.

At the Center of International Debates

With a chemistry and environmental science background, Laurie Geller's interest in environmental politics and the bigger picture led her to taking up an AAAS Environmental Fellowship. She now works for the International Council for Science in Paris, at the forefront of international debates on sustainable development.

From Three Years in the Dark to the Dazzling World of International Affairs

Working in the international affairs department of one of the main UK Government agencies for funding was not a career move that chemist Naomi Webber had planned. But nonetheless she feels that her PhD prepared her with the necessary transferable skills and she is tremendously enjoying her challenging if (not always) glamorous position.

Science and International Relations

Marina Ratchford has a background in geography and business and describes how she got involved in running international science programs. She highlights the rewards she has reaped professionally, for example, by organizing the AAAS Lecture Series on Women in Science and Engineering--a program that has linked female scientists from the United States and Latin America.


Saving the World is All a Hat Trick

Occupying positions that combine scientific knowledge and talent in diplomacy, Canadian David Brackett wears many different hats at high profile global organizations. In an interview with Next Wave?s Canadian Editor, Andrew Fazekas, this former zoologist describes his path to international success and offers advice for scientists who want to follow in his footsteps.

The Bilateral Bridge

Annemarie Nulle is what you could call the Netherlands' "innovation trend spotter" in France. Working as a Technological Scientific Councillor at the Dutch Embassy in Paris, she provides Dutch clients with information about research developments in France and gets them in touch with their French counterparts. In an interview with Next Wave?s Dutch Editor, Terry Vrijenhoek, she explains how she got there and exactly what her position entails.

What is a Soil Scientist doing in NATO?

Indeed soil scientist, Fausto Pedrazzini , has more than an intriguing career path to tell. Not only has he an international research career under his belt, but he has also served as science attaché to the Italian Embassies in both Brussels and Ottawa. Currently, he is working for NATO, as their Programme Director for Public Diplomacy.

My Contribution to Scientific Research and Diplomacy - Fate and Personal Drive

György Pálfi is convinced that in addition to personal drive, fate plays a major role in the development of a scientific career. With an established research career to his name, and certain skills and experiences he has acquired outside the lab, he more recently became a science and technology attaché for the Hungarian Embassy in Paris.

Science and Diplomacy, As Seen From the Diplomatic Front Lines

Next Wave's Managing Editor Alan Kotok talks to veteran U.S. diplomat Sally Cowal about a fascinating career to date, one that entailed working in U.S. government departments and as a diplomat. Cowal gives an overview on some of the hot topics where science meets diplomacy face-to-face. She explains why diplomats need to learn more about the world of science and why scientists who care about the impact of science on society may well find a diplomatic career a good way to fulfill that need.

From Academia to Embassy: An Unusual Career Path

Canadian national Philip Hicks was a very established international academic when he took the plunge to take the position of a science and technology counsellor at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. He says, "although I have a nonbench job, I am required to have my finger on the pulse of science constantly". Read his article from the Next Wave archives to get a firsthand insight in how scientists can work in embassies.


Strengthening Research Capacity in the Developing World

Lester Chitsulo is currently working at the WHO in the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, focusing on building research capacity to its full potential in the least developed countries of the world.

International Development Work - Challenges and Rewards

Joan Woods , is currently working at the U.S. Agency for International Development in Malawi as an overseas AAAS/USAID fellow. In this article she explains why she, a biology graduate, undertook a career that brought her to sub-Saharan Africa and to work at the intersection of two important development sectors - health and education.


Career Resources for Scientists in Internationalism and Diplomacy: - Next Wave brings you some career transition starting points for those who love science but could conceive leaving the bench and getting stuck into international and diplomatic issues.

Of course career paths in Internationalism and Diplomacy greatly cross over with those in Science Policy. If you are interested in reading about further aspects of careers in Science Policy, including opportunities at a national level, do take a look at our 2003 feature, entirely dedicated to this topic.

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