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Science & Diplomacy: New Perspectives from Myanmar, North Korea, Canada, and New Zealand

As Myanmar moves through an historic political transformation, scientific engagement is helping to shift its relationship with the United States from geopolitical tension to socially beneficial action. An article in the new issue of Science & Diplomacy, the free online publication from AAAS, details how science associations and top universities are leading this effort to work with counterparts in Myanmar.

The article was written by three high-level science leaders: Ronald Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University; Pe Thet Khin, Myanmar’s minister for health; and Nobel laureate Peter Agre, director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, a past president of AAAS, and a member of the senior advisory board at Science & Diplomacy.

AAAS has sent two high-level delegations to Myanmar, including one in 2010, before the nation’s new opening was evident. “Equally significant,” the authors say, “has been the growing relationship between U.S. universities—including Johns Hopkins—and the expert community in Myanmar, especially in health sciences, public health, and higher education.”

The editorial on this promising engagement with Myanmar is just one of the insightful pieces in the second issue of Science & Diplomacy, a quarterly publication that debuted in March.

Two new articles look at science outreach to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

A Consortium Model for Science Engagement: Lessons from the U.S.-DPRK Experience,” explores how the U.S.-DPRK Scientific Engagement Consortium, established in 2007, has connected scientists in North Korea and the United States despite profoundly strained official governmental relations. (AAAS is a member of the consortium.) The author is Cathy Campbell, president of CRDF Global, an independent nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., that promotes international scientific and technical collaboration worldwide.

In “Universities and Networks: Scientific Engagement with North Korea,” author Stuart J. Thorson looks at how Syracuse University has worked with DPRK’s Kim Chaek University of Technology on a digital library, academic exchanges, and other projects, helping to build trust and advance standards of academic openness. Thorson is a professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse.

AAAS has sent two delegations to Myanmar, including one in 2010, before the nation began an historic period of political transformation. Here, Peter Agre, then-chairman of the AAAS Board of Directors, visited young Buddhist nuns at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar. | Photo by Vaughan Turekian
View a larger version of this photo.

Other stories in the June 2012 issue of Science & Diplomacy:

  • How a Small Country Can Use Science Diplomacy: A View from New Zealand,” was written by Peter D. Gluckman, chief science advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand; Stephen L. Goldson, strategy advisor to New Zealand’s Office of the Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee; and Alan S. Beedle, chief of staff in New Zealand’s Office of the Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee.
  • Engineering Diplomacy: An Underutilized Tool in Foreign Policy looks at how cooperation in engineering areas can foster relationships and solve global problems, particularly between the United States and the nations in the Middle East and Caucasus. The author is Najmedin Meshkati, a professor of civil/environmental and industrial and systems engineering at the University of Southern California who served as an advisor in the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State from 2009 to 2010.
  • Becoming a Northern Minerva: Injecting Science into Canada’s Foreign Policies posits that Canada needs to better use its science—including greater innovation in government structures of science advice and mobilizing its global science networks—to increase its influence on global issues. Author Paul Dufour is a fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Institute for Science, Society and Policy who has served as a science policy adviser at several Canadian agencies.

Science & Diplomacy was developed by the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy as a means for bringing together the communities of science and engineering research and foreign policy. It is a resource with broad value for foreign policy makers and analysts, scientists and research administrators, and educators and students.

The publication’s editor-in-chief is Vaughan C. Turekian, director of the Center for Science Diplomacy. Tom C. Wang, the center’s deputy director, is the publication’s executive editor.
Science Diplomacy Stars On D.C. Radio Show

The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU-FM featured a 55-minute segment on science diplomacy on 25 June, with a focus on the work of the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy and the new AAAS publication “Science & Diplomacy.”

If you missed the live broadcast, you can listen here.

The guests were Norman P. Neureiter, senior adviser to the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy and chair of the senior advisory board at “Science & Diplomacy”; Alice P. Gast, U.S. science envoy to Central Asia and the Caucasus and president of Lehigh University; and Alex Dehgan, science and technology adviser to the administrator of USAID.


Read Science & Diplomacy, the free, online publication from the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy.

Learn more about the AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy.