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Home - Advising the U.S. Government - Science and Technology in Foreign Policy

Science and Technology in Foreign Policy
 
U.S. and International Perspectives on Global Science Policy and Science Diplomacy: Report of a Workshop
The United States and other countries around the world face problems of an increasingly global nature that often require major contributions from science and engineering that one nation alone cannot provide. The advance of science and engineering is an increasingly global enterprise, and in many areas there is a natural commonality of interest among practitioners from diverse cultures. In response to challenges, the National Academies held a workshop in Washington, DC, in February 2011, to assess effective ways to meet international challenges through sound science policy and science diplomacy.

Jefferson Science Fellowship Program
Under this program, experienced academic scientists and engineers are chosen for their achievements, communication skills, and interest in science policy and invited to spend one year at the Department of State, where they serve as expert consultants on rapidly advancing technical issues critical to foreign policy initiatives. Participants then return to their academic careers with an increased awareness of and sensitivity to the international dimensions of science, technology, and health policy and remain available to the State Department for another five years to work on short-term projects. 

The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy
Science, technology, and health (STH) considerations are often central to the Department of State's bilateral and multilateral interactions with other governments. STH aspects play a large role in discussions of such critical topics as nuclear nonproliferation, use of outer space, population growth, adequate and safe food supply, climate change, infectious diseases, energy resources, and competitiveness of industrial technologies. In addressing these issues, expert STH knowledge is essential to the anticipation and resolution of problems and to the achievement of foreign policy goals. The report The Pervasive Role of Science, Technology, and Health in Foreign Policy (1999, PDF 1 MB) offers suggestions as to how the Department of State could better deal with foreign policy issues with STH content. One recommendation led to the creation of the post of Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State.

The Fundamental Role of Science and Technology in International Development
The National Academies convened a committee to review selected aspects of U.S. foreign assistance—primarily the programs of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)—that have benefited or could benefit from access to strong science, technology, and medical capabilities in the United States or elsewhere. The resulting report, The Fundamental Role of Science and Technology in International Development (2006), devotes special attention to partnerships that involve USAID together with international, regional, U.S. governmental, and private sector organizations. The study explores specific programmatic, organizational, and personnel reforms that would increase the effective use of S&T to meet USAID's goals while supporting larger U.S. foreign policy objectives.

Improving Democracy Assistance: Building Knowledge Through Evaluations and Research
Since 1990, the U.S. Agency for International Development has supported democracy and governance (DG) programs in approximately 120 countries and territories, spending an estimated total of $8.47 billion between 1990 and 2005. Despite these substantial expenditures, our understanding of the actual impacts of USAID DG assistance on progress toward democracy remains limited and is the subject of much current debate in the policy and scholarly communities. The report Improving Democracy Assistance: Building Knowledge Through Evaluations and Research (2008) provides a roadmap to enable USAID and its partners to assess what works and what does not, both retrospectively and in the future, through improved monitoring and evaluation methods and rebuilding USAID's internal capacity to build, absorb, and act on improved knowledge.

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