AAAS Signs Agreement with Chile’s Senate Science Commission

Chilean Senator Guido Girardi, center left, and AAAS CEO Rush Holt, right, joined others in presenting the agreement signed by AAAS and the Future Challenges, Science, Technology and Innovation Commission at one of Chile's bases in Antarctica. | Álvaro Soto Valle

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has signed a memorandum of understanding with the science commission of Chile’s Senate, agreeing to collaborate on work to enhance the science-policy interface, science communication and science diplomacy in the Americas.

The agreement was signed on Jan. 12 during a visit to a Chilean research base in Antarctica, part of a series of meetings during Rush Holt’s first visit to South America as AAAS CEO since joining the organization two years ago.

“We are very pleased to have signed – in Antarctica no less, where the geopolitics of the future will be settled – this important cooperation agreement between Futures Congress and AAAS,” said Guido Girardi, senator and vice-president of the Chilean Senate, founder of Futures Congress and president of the Chilean Senate’s Future Challenges Science, Technology and Innovation Commission. “We hope that collaboration with AAAS programs, activities and the prestigious journal Science will help us strengthen the dissemination of science in our country.”

Rush Holt, second left, speaks at a Jan. 15 plenary session on science policy at Futures Congress in Santiago, Chile, with journalist Humberto Sichel, Carolina Torrealba of Fundación Ciencia & Vida, Ernesto Fernandez Polcuch of UNESCO and Natalia Piergentili, Chile's undersecretary of economy and small enterprise.  | Marga Gual Soler

“The discovery of our shared vision and the mutual desire to pursue a partnership flourished as a direct result of the AAAS Science & Diplomacy workshop that we participated in last year,” said Angela Viola-Glapinska, head of international cooperation at the Future Challenges Commission. “The signing of this agreement marks the beginning of an exciting journey in our joint endeavor to unite and inspire citizens through science across the Americas and beyond.”

In Santiago, Holt gave opening remarks on the interface of science and society at a Jan. 15 plenary panel at the Futures Congress event, a large annual science meeting with events across the country that bring scientists and citizens together to discuss global and local challenges, hosted by Chile’s Senate, the Chilean Academy of Sciences and the government of Chile.

“Part of our mission is to support robust engagement of scientists, policymakers and the public,” said Holt. “We advocate for the free movement of scientists across borders to ensure collaboration and the free flow of ideas. Simultaneously, we ensure that scientists are working in and for their local communities.”

Also during his stay in Santiago, Holt met with diplomats including Carol Perez, the U.S. ambassador to Chile, and participated in a Jan. 17 discussion with STEM graduate students at the University of Talca.

“Chile is a natural laboratory and rapidly becoming a world leader in important fields for science diplomacy: astronomy, oceanography, polar research and climate change,” said Marga Gual-Soler, senior project director at the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy, who joined Holt in Chile. “It’s been a fascinating visit and we look forward to discussing next steps in our collaboration, including fostering science policy connections, building capacity in science diplomacy and disseminating related resources between our countries.”

[Associated image: Jens Bludau/ Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)]