The first edition of “Ambassadors for Science” as an innovative example in science diplomacy

Monday, February 27, 2017

During 2016, “Ambassadors for Science” gathered nine couples of scientists and diplomats for a few days. Both professional groups were given the chance to experience the work environment of the other professional world, thus bringing closer science and diplomacy. 

All participants met each other during the first session, which was held in May. They all received basic notions about what science, diplomacy, and science diplomacy were all about. During the following months, the members of each couple scheduled different days to visit each other and experience the routine in their daily jobs. To share their experiences together, all couples gathered once again during the last session held in October. 

International impact

This scheme has been developed for the first time in a Spanish embassy. The programme has been highlighted as an innovative example within science diplomacy in the report for the European Commission “Tools for an EU science diplomacy”, which has been published in January 2017 and written by Dr Luk van Langenhoven

Likewise, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in its report from February 2017 “Connecting Scientists to Policy Around the World”, includes “Ambassadors for Science” within the pairing schemes that promote a culture of science-based policymaking in parliaments and a mutual understanding between scientists, and MPs, legislators or civil servants. 

FECYT publishes a summary video of the first edition

The Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) has published the following summary video of this first edition. The video includes an introduction to the programme and pieces of interviews to each participant couple. So it sums up the main conclusions of this first experience between scientists and diplomats.

The scientific coordinator in the Spanish Embassy in London and organiser of this programme, Lorenzo Melchor, said: “we are much fulfilled after this first edition; whereas all scientists involved have become aware of how important (and necessary!) it is that their experience and knowledge influence other professional fields, diplomats have got much closer to science than ever in their lives”. 

The reach of science communication and science diplomacy

The scientific coordinator in the Spanish Embassy in Berlin, Guillermo Orts-Gil, participated in the last session. In his speech, Guillermo gave value to the programme because of the opportunity given to scientists and diplomats to get out of their daily routine and “think out of the box”. 

Particularly, Guillermo encouraged scientists to use the two sets of tools at their disposal to reach society and influence in it: science communication and science diplomacy. He gave some examples of professionals who have been able to revolutionise these fields, such as Richard Feynman or Christiana Figueres.

Listen Podcast of Guillermo Orts.

Reports  of “Ambassadors for Science”

During the coming weeks, a piece of news will be published per week covering each of the nine couples of this first edition. Through their experiences, these reports will illustrate how science has got closer to a wide range of fields such as diplomacy, economics, culture, education, transportation or tourism, and vice versa. 

Soon, second edition of “Ambassadors for Science”

Following the success of its first edition, “Ambassadors for Science” will return to the Embassy of Spain in the United Kingdom during 2017 with a second edition. The application process for scientists will open in late March or early April, aiming for the programme to happen during the second half of the year. 

About “Ambassadors for Science”

“Ambassadors for Science” is organized by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) and the Office for Cultural and Scientific Affairs of the Spanish Embassy in London, with the support of the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK/CERU). This programme fits within the FECYT’s priority lines of increasing science outreach and science culture, and supporting the internationalization of Spanish science. The scheme is a pilot experience with the aim of extending it to other diplomatic missions and even to the Congreso de los Diputados and other scientific institutions in Spain. 

The scheme has been covered on Twitter with #Amb4Sci.


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