Kosal on Science Diplomacy
Nunn School Assistant Professor Margaret E. Kosal took part in the 2nd Annual Neureiter Science Diplomacy Roundtable in DC on “Educating for Science Diplomacy” on Wednesday, 18 December 2013. Convened in downtown Washington D.C. by the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy, Kosal commented on the role of scientific and technological engagement in formal and informal (like Track II) foreign policy and shaping operations and strategy in support of US strategic interests.
The roundtable aims to foster dialogue among experts, practitioners and thought leaders interested in efforts to provide science diplomacy education and training. This year the topic of “Educating for Science Diplomacy” was the primary focus of the roundtable. The participants sought to identify gaps (topics, resources, and mechanisms) in the current science diplomacy education and training of international relations professionals to meet future needs; and to articulate an integrative or systemic approach(es) to science diplomacy education and training that may be generally applicable to international relations professionals. The meeting was conducted under the Chatham House Rule, with a summary for policy makers to follow.
Kosal noted that in the 21st Century major barriers to effective science diplomacy include three major risks: not being relevant, not being strategic, and not being at the table. Science is increasingly complicated and complex. The ability to translate and make relevant the role and importance of science to foreign policy aims is critical. While there are notable exceptions, often this is not best accomplished by active research scientists. It’s also not often accomplished well by traditional Foreign Service Officers and others from traditional disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. In the global information age, there is a critical need for champions and for a cohort of individuals who can bridge across technical and foreign policy arenas.
The Neureiter Science Diplomacy Roundtable is named in honor of Dr. Norman Neureiter, a science diplomat who has served inthe U.S. Foreign Service and White House, as a senior executive at Texas Instruments, and as the first science advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State, and was initiated on the occasion of his 80th birthday in January 2012. The roundtable, on an annual basis, seeks to address contemporary topics in science diplomacy by bringing together a diverse group of experts, practitioners, and thought leaders in an informal, not-for-attribution dialog that can make real contributions to science diplomacy practice.
Working at the intersection of science and security, Kosal is among the foremost young experts on the weapons of mass destruction and the national security implications of emerging and dual-use technologies; such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, and the cognitive neurosciences. Kosal’s own research focuses on two, often intersecting, areas: reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and understanding the role of emerging technologies for strategy and governance. She earned a doctoral degree in Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and has served previously as Science and Technology Advisor within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). Her book Nanotechnology for Chemical and Biological Defense (Springer Academic Publishers, 2009) explores scenarios and strategies regarding the benefits and potential proliferation threats of nanotechnology and other emerging sciences for national security.
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