What is Science Diplomacy? Inputs from History of Science, International Relations and New Diplomatic History



Time and place


  • Einzeltermin am 19.10.2021 12:00-14:00, Room Zoom-Meeting (exclude vac) ICS
  • Einzeltermin am 26.10.2021 12:00-14:00, Room Zoom-Meeting (exclude vac) ICS
  • Einzeltermin am 22.10.2021 9:00-14:00, Room Zoom-Meeting (exclude vac) ICS
  • Einzeltermin am 23.10.2021 9:00-13:00, Room Zoom-Meeting (exclude vac) ICS
  • Einzeltermin am 12.11.2021 9:00-14:00, Room Zoom-Meeting (exclude vac) ICS
  • Einzeltermin am 13.11.2021 9:00-13:00, Room Zoom-Meeting (exclude vac) ICS
  • Einzeltermin am 03.12.2021 9:00-12:00, Room Zoom-Meeting (exclude vac) ICS
  • Einzeltermin am 10.12.2021 9:00-14:00, Room Zoom-Meeting (exclude vac) ICS

Block MA Joint Seminar:

Maria Rentetzi, Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Email: maria.rentetzi@fau.de

Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen, The Arctic University of Norway, Email: rasmus.bertelsen@uit.no

Alexandros-Andreas Kyrtsis, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Email: akyrtsis@pspa.uoa.gr


Science and technology stand at the heart of international affairs. Although international collaborations for scientists have long been a constitutive and natural part of their work, even in periods of intense political upheavals, to diplomats and policy makers the institutional link between science and diplomacy has been fairly new. Science diplomacy has indeed evolved to become a catchy term of increasing importance that has caught the attention of both scientists and politicians at the highest level. On 15 July 2008 Alan I. Leshner, Chief Executive Officer of the AAAS, announced the Center for Science Diplomacy during a Congressional testimony on international science cooperation. At the time, the AAAS envisioned science as a diplomatic tool that ought to contribute to foreign policy. A year later the AAAS joined forces with the Royal Society of Science to organize a two-day meeting on “New frontiers in science diplomacy,” regarded since as the foundation of science diplomacy. Sharing the traditional interpretation that science is universal, i.e., both transnational and above politics, attendees agreed that science has an important role to play in international affairs. In a subsequent publication science diplomacy was described through three types of activities: 1. science informs issues of diplomatic concern (science in diplomacy); 2. diplomacy facilitates international scientific cooperation (diplomacy for science) and 3. science functions as a last resort diplomatic tool (science for diplomacy). Presenting the conference’s report a year later to the Academy’s General Assembly, David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, argued that “We have to think how science and diplomacy can work together. Scientific progress can achieve breakthroughs that diplomacy simply cannot match” (Roy MacLeod. “The Royal Society and the Commonwealth: Old Friendships, New Frontiers” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London Vol. 64, Supplement 1: The Royal Society and Science in 20th Century, 22-23 April 2010 (20 September 2010), pp. 137-149). More than ten years later, the recent pandemic, the increasing concerns about climate change, and an unprecedent number of global challenges force us to reexamine and reevaluate our notion of science diplomacy as well as the practices that this notion entails. What is Science Diplomacy will try to tackle the diverse notion of the term. It is intended as an intense dialogue among senior scholars and advanced master students from different disciplines on how science and technology shaped and is shaped by international affairs. We will discuss some of the most recent literature on science diplomacy and involve in our discussions experts with practical experience in the field. The seminar will take part at the FAU in Erlangen as a block seminar taught during the period from October 19 to December 10, 2021. Students are expected to read very closely the assignments, participate in the discussions, and produce a research paper or multimedia project at the end of the seminar