AAAS and Kuwaiti Partners to Expand Global Science Communication

AAAS CEO Rush Holt and Adnan Shihab-Eldin, director general of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences | Juan David Romero

AAAS has further broadened its long-standing partnership with the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences by signing an agreement that will make science more accessible in Arabic, through translations as well as workshops on science communication, and on research proposal development.

AAAS CEO Rush Holt, executive publisher of the Science family of journals, and Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) Director General Adnan Shihab-Eldin met on 13 September at AAAS headquarters in Washington, D.C. to sign an agreement whereby KFAS will translate and publish selected Science news and Science Careers content.

The agreement also calls on the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology to help organize several joint workshops on science communication, to take place in Kuwait, beginning in spring 2017. This broad range of collaboration complements an agreement KFAS signed in August for the AAAS Research Competitiveness Program to provide a workshop on proposal development for a cross-section of researchers in Kuwait.

Shihab-Eldin said that the collaboration reflects his organization’s broader goal to disseminate science “not just for scientists, but for the public at large, and the youth, in particular.” Recruiting more Arabic-speaking young people to enter science and technology fields will be key to helping Middle-Eastern countries prepare for the science- and knowledge-based economy of the future, he noted. Leveraging shared scientific goals and values can also provide a neutral bridge between regions that may otherwise have geopolitical differences, he added.

“The language of science is universal and evidence-based – not ideological,” said Shihab-Eldin. “The evidence is the same in California as it is in Kuwait and Japan and Finland. If we can get that approach and framework engrained in more young people, I think we are going to see a better world with less conflict and less ideological separations.”

The 13 September agreement is an outcome of a more general memorandum of understanding, which was signed on 28 January, when KFAS and AAAS agreed “to conduct efforts that build on shared values of advancing science, engineering and innovation for the benefit of society.” 

AAAS CEO Rush Holt and Adnan Shihab-Eldin, director general of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences. | Juan David Romero

Bill Moran, publisher of the Science family of journals, commended KFAS for its forward-thinking approach to the communication of science. “We want to help KFAS advance science within Kuwait and across Arabic-speaking regions,” he said. “The AAAS mission calls on us to promote scientific advancement without borders, and this new agreement reinforces that goal. We look forward to working with KFAS to deliver first-class scientific content as well as science communication workshops to advance science communication more broadly.”

AAAS Deputy Chief Communications Officer Tiffany Lohwater said that the upcoming science communication workshops in Kuwait will offer an opportunity for bidirectional learning between U.S. and Kuwaiti scientists and engineers. “Communication requires listening as well as speaking,” said Lohwater, who also serves as director of meetings and public engagement at AAAS. “We expect to gain a better understanding of the science communication challenges in Kuwait, as part of our collaboration with KFAS, and we are eager to share with them what we have learned through our popular Communicating Science program.” 

Since 2008, AAAS has facilitated 111 Communicating Science workshops, training 3,860 scientists and engineers in the United States, and will begin offering workshops internationally in 2017.

L-R: Charles Dunlap, Edward Derrick, Julia MacKenzie, and Bill Moran of AAAS; Sami Al-Dulaimi, Kuwait News Agency; AAAS CEO Rush Holt; KFAS Director General Adnan Shihab-Eldin; Layla al-Musawi, KFAS; Roger Goncalves and Tom Wang, AAAS. | Juan David Romero

AAAS and KFAS first established a collaborative relationship in 2007, when the two organizations teamed up to host the International Conference on Women Leaders in Science, Technology, and Engineering, in Kuwait City. At the 13 September signing ceremony at AAAS, Shihab-Eldin expressed interest in co-hosting another such conference in the near future, to further advance the role of women in science.

KFAS meanwhile will also be working with AAAS to build capacity for the Kuwaiti research community to prepare highly competitive proposals to peer-reviewed grant programs, said Dr. Charles Dunlap, director of the Association’s Research Competitiveness Program. During the week of November 14 in Kuwait, AAAS will offer insights, based on its review of thousands of proposals handled by Dunlap’s program, to help grant-seekers succeed in getting their work funded, and promote the institutionalization of best practices in review.

“We will work with a cross-section of the research community in Kuwait, identified by our colleagues at KFAS, to share the knowledge that we’ve gained in designing competitions and providing proposal review in the U.S. and internationally. We hope this workshop is a first step to supporting the long-term adoption of graduate-school curricula in Kuwait that develop these research competitiveness skills.” Dunlap said.

Also in attendance at the 13 September agreement-signing ceremony were Dr. Layla al-Musawi, KFAS program manager of publicizing and disseminating science and technology; Edward Derrick, chief programs officer at AAAS; Julia Jackson MacKenzie, AAAS director of international relations; and members of the AAAS Publishing team, including Roger Goncalves and Tracy Holmes.