This September, a AAAS delegation led by Dr. Sudip Parikh, CEO of AAAS and executive publisher of the Science family of journals, and Dr. Willie May, AAAS president-elect and Vice President of Research and Economic Development at Morgan State University, visited one of its international partners, the Royal Scientific Society (RSS) in Jordan. The delegation included Andrew Black, chief of staff and chief public affairs officer; Julia MacKenzie, chief program officer; and Kim Montgomery, director of international affairs and science diplomacy.
Along with meetings and activities with the RSS, the AAAS delegation had the opportunity to engage with the Princess Sumaya University for Technology; visit the Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME); participate in a World Science Forum Steering Committee meeting; tour the Jordan Museum; and meet with HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal. It was an action-packed and successful trip, and, to recap, the Center for Science Diplomacy will be highlighting five key takeaways from the trip.
1. Lecture and visit to the Princess Sumaya University for Technology
Delegation members were excited to visit laboratories at RSS and the Princess Sumaya University for Technology (PSUT). While there, they had the opportunity to hear capstone project presentations from PSUT students, which showed the delegation how students were using their computer science and technology skill sets to create innovative business ideas would benefit the region. Projects ranged from using blockchain to improve pharmaceutical supply chains to using AI to help individuals with autism recognize speech emotion. Thank you to all the students and staff for their time, and to the PSUT leadership, including PSUT President Professor Wejdan Abu Elhaija, for their help in organizing the visit.
Parikh gave a lecture at the PSUT titled “Science Diplomacy and the Power of Science to Build Bridges,” which was attended by academics, diplomats and students. In the talk, he focused on the important role that science can play in building relationships between nations. Expanding on points brought up in a session at the 2022 World Science Forum co-hosted by AAAS and the RSS, Parikh spoke about the need to ensure that knowledge creation is a global pursuit and that scientific discoveries and innovation are not be confined by borders.
2. Visit to SESAME
Another highlight of the trip was having the opportunity to tour SESAME. The lab is home to the first synchrotron light source and international center of excellence in the Middle East. Since its opening in 2017, it has been heralded as an excellent example of science diplomacy. In 2019, five architects of SESAME were awarded the AAAS Award for Science Diplomacy.
It was great to see the facilities up close, talk with senior leadership, and hear about current projects from scientists from across the region.
3. Meeting of the World Science Forum Steering Committee
While in Jordan, AAAS CEO Sudip Parikh participated in a meeting of the World Science Forum Steering Committee to discuss plans for the upcoming World Science Forum, which will take place in November 2024 in Budapest, Hungary. It was a great opportunity to meet with partners from around the world and make plans for what will certainly be an interesting event.
Learn more about the event and its attendees.
4. Visit to The Jordan Museum
In addition to touring SESAME, the group also was able to tour The Jordan Museum thanks to their host HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan, who is vice president of the Museum’s Board of Trustees.
Touring the museum was an excellent introduction to the country’s past and present and allowed the delegation to better understand the cultural heritage of the region. The group particularly enjoyed learning more about the inventors of the Islamic Golden Age, including Merriam Al-ljliya, a 10th century Muslim woman who helped design the astrolabe, an important astronomic instrument.
5. Meeting at the Royal Palaces
The AAAS delegation was also thrilled to visit the Royal Palaces, where they had an audience with HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal, founder of the Royal Scientific Society. The conversation, which included Leslie Reed, mission director of USAID Jordancovered significant topics such as health research, the regional science and technology ecosystem, and development issues. We were honored to engage in such a rich and inspiring discussion.
We want to also acknowledge the National Centre for Security and Crises Management, the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy, and the Crown Prince Foundation for kindly meeting with us during our time in Jordan. Throughout the entire visit, we were struck by the Jordanian hospitality and look forward to strengthening our relationship with the Royal Scientific Society.
AAAS would like to first and foremost thank the Royal Scientific Society and HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan for their kindness in hosting the group in Jordan. We would additionally like to acknowledge that this is not a comprehensive agenda of the trip and want to thank all those who took time out of their schedules to meet with the AAAS delegation.