Volume 19 - October 16, 2008 - Bills in Brief: U.S. S&T Policy News

Science Diplomacy Goes "Big-Time"

bridges vol. 22, July 2009 / Norm Neureiter on S&T in Foreign Policy

By Norm Neureiter

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Norman Neureiter

In Washington, when something makes it into a presidential speech it becomes important. And on June 7, 2009, in President Obama's wide-ranging address to the Muslim world, science diplomacy went "big-time."  Yes, "science diplomacy," which we have written about in previous bridges columns.  In this case it refers to the use of science and technology (S&T) cooperation as a means of peaceful engagement with Muslim communities around the world - S&T cooperation as a potentially very effective instrument of a constructive foreign policy.  

Referring specifically to S&T, President Obama spoke of launching "a new fund to support technological development in Muslim-majority countries, and to help transfer ideas to the marketplace so they can create more jobs."  In addition, he said, we will "open centers of scientific excellence in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, and appoint new science envoys to collaborate on programs that develop new sources of energy, create green jobs, digitize records, clean water, grow new crops." He announced "a new global effort with the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to eradicate polio ... and to expand partnerships with Muslim communities to promote child and maternal health."

He also emphasized that "all these things must be done in partnership" and said  that "Americans are ready to join with citizens and governments, community organizations, religious leaders, and businesses in Muslim communities around the world to help people pursue a better life."   

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