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.





Blurring Lines Between Nations and Disciplines

Keeping Both Academia and Industry on the Go