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AAAS Officers Urge "More Comprehensive" S&T Cooperation between Europe and U.S.
Alan I. Leshner
[Photo by Colellaphoto.com]
Facing an unprecedented array of economic and environmental challenges, Europe and the United States should renew their longstanding science and engineering relationships to make them even deeper and more productive, say AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner and Chief International Officer Vaughan Turekian.
Writing in the latest newsletter of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, Leshner and Turekian say that the Euro-U.S. relationship should be an anchor for an emerging global network of S&T knowledge and economic growth.
"A new moment of challenge and opportunity awaits the trans-Atlantic alliance," they write. "Confronted by financial crisis, unstable energy supplies, an aging population and ominous climate change, a consensus has emerged in both Europe and the United States that we must answer these urgent challenges with substantially increased innovation. And the election of President Barack Obama, with his clear belief in the importance of science to virtually all societal issues, is a clear signal that the United States is poised to bring renewed commitment to the global scientific enterprise."
The European Commission's Joint Research Centre is the hub for science and technology in the European Union (EU). It provides independent S&T support for EU policy-making, working closely with commission departments that oversee agriculture, enterprise, environment, health and consumer protection. It develops knowledge from research within seven Centre institutes; it collaborates with over 1000 public and private organizations in 150 networks in EU member states and applicant countries.
The AAAS editorial was featured on the front page of the Centre's February newsletter, which also included news from the AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago. Leshner also serves as executive publisher of Science; Turekian is also director of the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy.
In their editorial, they noted that trans-Atlantic science cooperation extended back to America's colonial days, when Benjamin Franklin, who would later become one of the United States' founders and premier diplomats, had a long-running dialogue with English scientist Peter Collinson about electricity.
"Throughout the 20th century," they write, "the trans-Atlantic partnership has helped produce historic progress in fields ranging from medicine and genetics to physics, communication and space exploration. Today our students move freely between universities and labs in the United States and Europe; from telescopes high atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii to developing the Large Hadron Collider beneath the Franco-Swiss countryside, our scientists and engineers are working together on important projects."
But given the challenges of the new century, they call for researchers, universities, industry, and governments to work together to make the trans-Atlantic collaboration more systematic and more comprehensive. And, they said, the research efforts must be opened up as much as possible to other nations around the world.
"That is not just a diplomatic gesture; our researchers stand to gain new insights and research opportunities by working with colleagues in every nation," Leshner and Turekian write. "Nations that just a decade ago were considered 'Third World' are today making significant investments in scientific research, development and education, and are studying exactly the same problems facing more developed countries, even if the details of the problems facing them are different."
Such efforts could begin to ease the mistrust that recently has chilled relations with many countries. And, they conclude: "History reminds us that a strong commitment to the Euro-U.S. partnership will give us a foundation for work that will help solve many of the world's most pressing problems and improve life for our children, our grandchildren, and billions of people on every continent."
9 March 2009