At Euroscience Forum, AAAS Urges International Partnerships to Foster Global Science Community

Science is becoming a more collaborative enterprise, but it must "function in a coherent global way" if it is to meet massive challenges such as climate change and managing energy and water resources, AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner said at the Euroscience Open Forum in Copenhagen.

In a 25 June presentation, Leshner stressed that it will not be enough for countries to focus only on their own national scientific infrastructure or pursue limited international collaborations. Instead, efforts should be directed at a coherent global scientific community that can function in a much more integrated way, he suggested. These efforts will need to include both collaboration with and scientific capacity-building in developing countries.

Alan I. Leshner | DavidSharpe.com

The diversity that comes from building a global scientific enterprise will bring new ideas and much-needed innovation to bear on significant societal challenges, he suggested. "We need more ways to bring actors in as full partners and find ways to deal with uneven quality of different scientific communities."

Groups such as the Heads of International Research Organizations (HIROs) and the Global Research Council have brought together national research agencies to foster collaboration and discuss international standards for data sharing and research ethics, he noted.

AAAS has joined top representatives from science organizations around the world, including the Brazilian Association for the Advancement of Science (SBPC), the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST), Euroscience and the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA), to promote a larger role for science in national and global policies. Following a session at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago earlier this year, the group also convened at ESOF to explore new ways to continue the partnership.

Other AAAS speakers at ESOF included AAAS Chief International Officer Vaughan Turekian, who participated in a session on resolving health challenges through science diplomacy. Governments have been the traditional practitioners of diplomacy, but many cross-border issues from disease outbreaks to energy exploration contain a strong scientific component. Researchers and scientific societies will be increasingly important as science diplomats "as economic progress and societal well-being become more interdependent with advances in science and technology," Turekian suggested.

Vaughan Turekian | AAAS

The Euroscience Open Forum, held every two years in a different city, is Europe's largest general science meeting. The meeting is a showcase for the latest advances in science and technology and features vibrant discussions about the role of science and science communication in public policy. This year's events also included a "Science in the City" festival with public lectures, experiments, art installations and hands-on activities taking place throughout Copenhagen.

Leshner also spoke at the meeting about AAAS' commitment to a good relationship between scientists and the public, noting that the relationship has experienced some "significant turbulence" in recent years. A two-way conversation between the public and scientists is especially important, he said, as scientific findings in cosmology, stem cell research and other fields touch on core values.

Good communication is critical to this conversation, and to building support for science as an international enterprise, Leshner said 24 June at the launch of The Technologist, a new popular science publication from the EuroTech Universities Alliance.

"More and more countries are investing in science, in the belief that they can and will build their economies on their brains. So they are investing in science and science education, and this has had the result of fostering, for the first time in history, the beginnings of a truly global scientific community-something I applaud greatly," Leshner said. "Science is everywhere in our lives, and so good science should be going on everywhere around the world."