Sharing Scientific Expertise Brings Global Benefits, Says S&T Adviser to U.S. Secretary of State

American preeminence in science and technology has become a very useful diplomatic tool for the United States, opening doors to nations regardless of their culture or politics, E. William Colglazier, the science and technology adviser to the Secretary of State, told a recent AAAS gathering.

“They respect our capabilities; they want to engage with America’s scientists and engineers,” Colglazier said during the 37th annual AAAS Forum on Science & Technology Policy. “And this is true even for countries where governmental relations with the United States are strained or even non-existent.”

Colglazier said the United States has much to gain from the globalization of science, which helps encourage the spread of scientific values such as democracy and meritocracy, even if it also means more robust, more capable scientific competition.

“Helping other countries to become more prosperous, to have [a] larger middle class, actually leads to broad new markets for America’s goods and services,” Colglazier said

He spoke optimistically of the potential for many countries to make rapid economic progress using science and technology.

In what he called a radical transformation in thinking for many governments, nations aspiring to compete globally now recognize the centrality of research and innovation for their future economic well-being.

Colglazier, who assumed his post at the State Department in July 2011, had previously served as the chief executive officer of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. He spoke at lunch on 27 April during the Forum, the premier venue for those interested in the intersection of policy with science and technology.

Colglazier was introduced by Norman P. Neureiter, senior adviser to the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy and acting director of the AAAS Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy. Neureiter served from 2000 to 2003 as the first science and technology adviser to the Secretary of State after the post was created and written into legislation. He praised Colglazier as a “wonderful choice” for the post and said that “without constant attention” science can be easily ignored in the conduct of foreign policy. He noted later that Colglazier’s position “is essential to making sure that this does not happen. We live in a world whose future will be defined by science and technology and how it is managed on a global basis.”

Links

Watch a video of E. William Colglazier, science and technology adviser to the Secretary of State, at the 2012 AAAS Forum on S&T Policy.

See the full Forum program.

See more AAAS.org coverage of this year’s Forum.