Science Diplomacy

A mathematics major in the Foreign Service

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Call for More Scientists at State Department

An op-ed in The Hill newspaper says the State Department needs more scientists. It says:

However, at the country’s senior-most diplomatic ranks, the integration of science and technology lags dangerously behind. The only elements expressly chartered to consider scientific, environmental, technological or energy issues are relegated to second-tier status within the State Department hierarchy. While the integration of temporary science fellows into the State’s junior ranks has yielded benefits to be sure, for the most part, the structure for science and diplomacy within the State Department is fractured, inadequate, and underfunded....    

First, the State Department should create a new Foreign Service career track for diplomats with substantial prior formal background in the hard sciences and/or technology.... 

Second, the Department's leadership hierarchy must include a clear focus on integrating science and technology into diplomacy. This almost certainly requires establishing an under secretariat for science and diplomacy supported by career professionals at all levels.

I was one of the first and last career science officers in the Foreign Service in the 1990s in something called the "Science Cone" for Foreign Service officers specializing in science work. The Foreign Service had tradtional specialization "cones" for political, economic, administrative, and consular officers. I don't think the science cone lasted, but I am not sure because I retired about a year after becoming a member of the science cone.


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