As 2021 begins, the world faces multiple challenges that U.S. higher education institutions (HEI)1 are uniquely positioned to help address by engaging in science2 diplomacy (SD). The greatest challenges are multisectoral, with impacts from local to global scales. They include an ongoing pandemic, economic disruption yielding greater inequity and poverty, widespread gender and racial discrimination, and climate and biodiversity crises. The ecosystem of global science has also been altered by restricted mobility, economic weakening of higher education’s business model,3 growing pockets of distrust of science, and threats to research security.4 Indeed, a group assembled by the U.S. National Academies of Science and Medicine in September 2020 reaffirmed the critical importance of science diplomacy at this time, indicating that “the need for U.S. foreign and development policy to be informed by science, technology, and health has perhaps never been more important.”5
These events will likely force a significant reset in American society that will require its HEI to adapt. We believe that by harnessing science, embracing SD, and bolstering global cooperation, U.S. HEI can champion the development of solutions to these complex problems and build a future that is inclusive, just, resilient, sustainable, and forward-looking.
The little recognized but important role that U.S. HEI have played in U.S. science diplomacy,6 as well as the richness of U.S. HEI scientific capacity, are the foundations for our recommendations. Therefore, we first describe activities that HEI have undertaken to advance SD in four spheres: formal science diplomacy, humanitarian and development activities, international science policy, and cooperation for international science, technology, and innovation (STI). We then identify and advocate for critical steps within and across the spheres where HEI can take individual and collective actions to address global challenges.
Rebuilding presents a major opportunity to redress longstanding and widespread discrimination, such as sexism and racism, in science, academia, and society. Such inequity has deprived the scientific community of valuable contributions from diverse groups, prevented research that meaningfully serves underrepresented communities, and reduced the diversity of scientists in international collaboration; the pandemic has compounded these issues with greater negative impacts on women and people of color.7 Purposeful steps towards increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion8 are not only the ethical path forward, but also practical, as there is much evidence that more diverse groups are more creative and resilient and produce more impactful science.9 Because broad inclusion is a challenge faced by many nations, HEI should focus on this as a specific topic for SD collaboration, learning, and joint action,10 and also should address it throughout all other SD engagements.
Our paper is an urgent call for greater leadership, collaboration, and action. These need to be guided by visionary and strategic plans so that HEI can collectively rebuild public trust in science and more effectively engage in SD. Most significantly, U.S. HEI must exercise leadership in what we call the “orphan space” at the intersection of U.S. academia, government, science, and international engagement. We call it orphaned because without an overarching federal agency in the US that funds and guides domestic and international science investments, and with a decentralized system of higher education, the actions at this intersection can be scattered, non-inclusive, inefficient, uninformed by collective wisdom, and non-strategic. These factors keep the U.S. from maximizing the potential of its academic scientists to mitigate the world’s shared problems. In the midst of a pandemic and beyond, many individual HEI, the nation, and the world can no longer afford such an approach. We call on U.S. HEI to cooperate and play a vital national role in helping to form collaborative infrastructure in this space.
We advocate for HEI-based activities that have important and urgently needed impacts on SD: they broaden global engagement and scientific cooperation, yield stronger international relations that are inclusive and fair, strengthen our ability to collaboratively build greater collective scientific expertise, and support evidence-based policy and action on shared challenges.
Global engagement and scientific cooperation are essential because so many of the toughest challenges are global in scope and/or solution; indeed, the pandemic has reinforced the inescapable global interdependencies of the daily lives of people around the world.
Stronger international relations have resulted as scientists around the world have worked together and developed norms and values that are broadly shared.11 The global science ecosystem has generated millions of sustained connections that foster international cohesion, understanding and respect; it increasingly features community knowledge co-creation to ensure broad inclusion, fairness, and balanced benefits.
Greater collective scientific expertise results when scientists collaborate across the world to combine their varied expertise and access to globally distributed phenomena, data, and facilities. It is this expertise and wisdom that can safeguard the world’s future.
Evidence-based policy and action are of paramount importance on domestic and international fronts. The challenges ahead require strengthened ties between science and policy action,12 especially because many such links have failed catastrophically during the pandemic.13
U.S. HEI are well suited for these important roles because they
--are wellsprings of the scientific innovation and technological adaptation14 needed in the COVID-19 era and beyond, with the world-class facilities, testbeds, and networks to match;
--are forward looking, creatively using data to track emerging trends to sharpen their global vision;15
--focus on educating youth, who are flocking to SD,16 speaking out for justice, and applying their IT savvy to solve complex problems;
--act as agents of change, mobilizing faculty and students to benefit society by embracing civics, ethics, and service;17
--have been challenged to remedy their historical racism and sexism to bring together the broadest talent from the U.S. and the world;18
--are expert at building the long-term international relationships needed to deliver mutual benefit on global issues and are increasingly strategic in their global reach;19
--have been forced by the pandemic to fortify their infrastructure and increase access for virtual collaboration, learning, and research, better positioning them as major nodes in global knowledge networks and regional economic drivers; and
--are not part of a nationally controlled system of higher education, and so are largely viewed by foreigners as less political, an asset when diplomatic relations are strained and when mutual trust must be (re)built.20
U.S. HEI can achieve a strong value proposition with continued global -engagement with foreign partners who match their unique assets – be they faculty, students, hospitals, alumni, geography, or local business partners.21 This will attract domestic and foreign students, advance knowledge frontiers, serve diverse stakeholders, bolster local and global economies, and contribute to problem-solving across sectors, timeframes, and locations.
U.S. HEI in SD – past, present, and potential across four spheres
1. Formal Science Diplomacy
U.S. HEI have engaged in formal science diplomacy for many years:
--enabling their scientists to serve at the Department of State (DOS), as Jefferson Science Fellows, Science Envoys, and AAAS Fellows,22 strengthening the scientific foundations of U.S. foreign policy;
--sending students and faculty abroad for people-to-people diplomacy via DOS programs,23 e.g., the Fulbright Program, Benjamin A. Gilman Program, and 100,000 Strong in the Americas fund;
--hosting U.S. diplomats and foreign visitors funded by DOS,24 as well as visitors supported by other countries; and
--supporting science diplomacy programs and activities for faculty and students, advancing the understanding of and workforce for SD via research, engagement, teaching, student-focused activities, and networks.25
CALL FOR NEW ACTION: To amplify their contributions of science and scientists to U.S. diplomacy, HEI should:
--encourage faculty to participate in DOS SD programs, ensuring broad participation by actively removing barriers to faculty from underrepresented groups,26 and incentivizing returnees to apply their diplomatic and policy expertise to campus initiatives;
--strategically invite diplomats and foreign visitors to campus to build relationships and international collaborations in areas of mutual scientific interest;
--invest in producing graduates capable of working in the SD ecosystem, by developing courses and hands-on project-based activities, that give students skills for careers in science diplomacy at local, state, and national levels; and
--develop strategic SD relationships with specific embassies across a wide range of countries that complement HEI assets such as geographic location, alumni, facilities, scientific and technical excellence, and international expertise.
2. Humanitarian and Development Activities
U.S. HEI, including individual scientists and academic consortia, have long been active participants and drivers of humanitarian and development projects, for example, by
--integrating engineering solutions into humanitarian and disaster-related work, e.g., in fields such as housing, peace, and precision agriculture, where tech-savvy partnerships can generate actionable insights, safeguard privacy and reliability, and address injustices for vulnerable communities;29
--engaging U.S. students through curricular innovations, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)-related activities, and student organizations, e.g., global development programs for undergraduates and graduate students, SDG teach-ins and community days, and Engineers without Borders;30 and
--building human and infrastructure capacity, e.g., delivering science education and technical training, but also information technology and connectivity to partners around the world.31
CALL FOR NEW ACTION: To deliver solutions in humanitarian science in a pandemic-ravaged world, U.S. HEI should:
--innovate to meet the increasing demands of U.S. students for greater engagement for sustainable development and peace, partnering them with foreign students and in multilateral consortia while directly promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion;
--challenge funders (private sector, development banks, philanthropies, and government) to prioritize a wide range of science and engineering fields as drivers of development;
--reconceptualize the service mission of HEI to incorporate global dimensions – although some HEI are already leaders in this,32 the pandemic has shown the need for more HEI to embrace such a perspective, and worldwide calls for racial justice have demonstrated that diversity, equity, and inclusion must be integral parts of HEI’s service mission at home and around the world;
--employ the latest technologies (e.g., mobile technologies, drones, robots, or artificial intelligence) to help in areas difficult to access because of disasters, poor infrastructure, or concerns over security and safety;
--mobilize as “Big Data” hubs to enable data-driven decision-making for agile, fair, and adaptive solutions at the triple nexus of humanitarian action, development, and peace; and
--help upskill in-country workforces through international alliances with funders and countries, using pandemic-gained expertise to tailor education, technical training, and professional experiences via online engagement.
3. International Science Policy
U.S. HEI have long been active at the international science-policy interface:
--strengthening the fundamentals of science policy at international levels, e.g., related to evidence-based policymaking, increased recruitment and advancement of women and minorities in science, and public understanding of science;33
--providing science-based advice to governments around the world, such as when HEI behave as diplomatic actors and provide advice on science investment policy or on land use policy;34
--supporting centers and consortia conducting research for international science policy, e.g., on utilities, health, and sustainable management of resources;35
--supporting individual research projects and scientists to inform policy, e.g., on urban issues, fairness in AI algorithms, and biodiversity conservation;36 and
--advancing our understanding of the science-policy interface, e.g., with research on science advice in the pandemic, global environmental policy, and policies that impact the dynamics of international science collaboration itself.37
CALL FOR NEW ACTION: To strengthen the international science-policy interface, U.S. HEI should:
--prioritize student understanding and skills in international science policy by developing interdisciplinary science policy courses, internships, and study/research abroad;
--actively encourage and reward scholarly work in international science policy, especially work that incorporates participation of groups underrepresented in science, via hiring new faculty, establishing interdisciplinary centers, linking international policy experts from different sectors, and creating programs for visiting policy expert-practitioners;
--work with state and local officials to broker strategic bilateral and multilateral partnerships in areas of mutual policy interest and generate new avenues for joint research and science policy development; and
--add science policy expertise to new/existing interdisciplinary science research hubs that take advantage of unique resources and expertise in a global context.
4. Cooperation in Science, Technology, and Innovation
U.S. HEI are the nexus for hundreds of thousands of international STI relationships.38 In most cases, individuals act as “unintentional diplomats,”39 contributing to positive relationships among nations. Existing HEI activities institutionalize global perspectives, support balanced scientific collaborations, and link science to policy by:
--providing programs for global engagement by new faculty, e.g., with seed funds for international research and travel, advice on building international partnerships, and sessions with an array of funders;40
--acting in consortia and increasing inclusion to provide students with impactful international science experience, e.g., providing international science experiences to a diverse set of students and offering international research internships;41
--adopting models of knowledge co-creation,42 valuing and meeting the needs of all partners for balanced mutual benefit;
--partnering with industry to form international academic-private sector research alliances, e.g., for manufacturing of automobiles, computer chips, and pharmaceuticals;43 and
--forming alliances with regional communities and governments to partner internationally for education, research, and policy action.44
CALL FOR NEW ACTION: Science and international cooperation will determine the world’s ability to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and other future challenges. To play a leading role, U.S. HEI should:
--expand their ecosystems of science and technology to more actively embrace innovation, entrepreneurship, and partnerships with multinational companies to address global challenges;
--develop educational materials and collaborative platforms to accelerate the worldwide exchange of knowledge, skills, and solutions in emerging areas of scientific inquiry;
--actively incorporate, from the outset, principles and actions that deliver diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout their SD and international engagement; and
--build and better use their social capital worldwide, e.g., tapping and linking the expertise of alumni, faculty, students, community business leaders, and diaspora communities, to make HEI vibrant hubs of global networks and alliances.
Three high-level actions, all requiring individual and collective vision and leadership, come into clear perspective as we step back to consider how HEI can advance SD to build a better future. HEI must:
--strategically build global dimensions into all aspects of their mission, especially in emerging science fields, coordinating and amplifying efforts at many levels, connecting them to local endeavors to ensure their long-term sustainability, and fortifying institutional incentives for international engagement in science;
--invest in domestic and international consortia with complementary assets, i.e., forgoing a lone-actor model, instead building relationships that advance scientific solutions by leveraging the assets of a broad range of partners, both foreign and domestic; and
--create new collaborative infrastructure, i.e., inclusive and linked organizations, networks, consortia, platforms, and portals that empower their collective leadership to address the gap where the U.S. scientific enterprise meets the rest of the world. Such international entities existed before the pandemic (both in SD45 and in many other fields46) but the pandemic, in addition to accelerating the pace of research, also brought about unprecedented data-sharing and collaboration in what is sometimes called “borderless research” via a dizzying array of communities of practice, many of which are virtual.47 U.S. HEI can capitalize on this pandemic-driven change and build infrastructure to enable synergy across HEI, governments, the private sector, philanthropies, scientific societies, civil society groups, and other actors. These entities should yield more foresight on emerging issues, catalyze more efficient and diverse partnerships, enhance communication and coordination, and advocate for domestic and international science policy action, all of which would enhance the contributions of U.S. HEI and their scientists to solving the world’s current and future challenges.
We look forward to U.S. HEI stepping forward together in global engagement to tackle these complex problems and build a better future.
For their helpful discussions and/or comments on the manuscript, we thank Dewey Murdick, Mary Anne Walker, Sally Bornbusch, and an anonymous reviewer. We also thank the participants of the 2013 AAAS Symposium, E. William Colglazier, Susan Buck Sutton, Jason Lane, Jonathan Bagger, and Claude Canizares, for their early input on this topic.
The authors take sole responsibility for the content of this article. For Elizabeth Lyons, the comments, opinions, assessments, and recommendations made herein are strictly those of the authors and are not made on behalf of the National Science Foundation or any entity of the United States government.
- When we refer to U.S. HEI, we include actions taken by community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities, university systems, research institutes, or consortia; by their faculty and students; and by organizations operating at campus scales or nationally. Before the pandemic, this included more than 4,500 degree-granting institutions. These form a complex landscape of institutions each with multiple defining characteristics that can influence its SD activities, e.g., private or public (i.e., funded by a U.S. state); offering education and research across many disciplines, carrying strong legacies in agriculture or mining, or narrowly focused; serving all students or focusing on students from minority groups; non-religious or having a religious affiliation.
- We use the term “science” as shorthand to include natural and social sciences, engineering, and mathematics.
- Mark Huelsman, “Coronavirus Could Cause a Long-Term Higher Ed Crisis,” Inside Higher Education, March 12, 2020, www.insidehighered.com/views/2020/03/12/coronavirus-could-have-long-term-impact-state-funding-universities-opinion; Felicia Alvarez and Craig M. Douglas, “Cutting Class: Uncertainty Around International Students Puts Colleges in Limbo,” Sacramento Business Journal, August 13, 2020, www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2020/08/13/international-students-budget-crisis-for-colleges.html.
- The JASON report released by NSF in December 2019 described threats to the integrity and security of the U.S. research enterprise and the coordinated efforts being undertaken to safeguard U.S. research. It affirmed that “Principled international collaboration and foreign scientific talent in the United States are critical to the success of the U.S. research enterprise,” www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/jasonsecurity/JSR-19-2IFundamentalResearchSecurity_12062019FINAL.pdf.
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Science, Technology, and Health Capabilities Within the Department of State and USAID at an Inflection Point (Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2020), www.nap.edu/catalog/26016/science-technology-and-health-capabilities-within-the-department-of-state-and-usaid-at-an-inflection-point. The NSF JASON report also concluded, “[a]midst the COVID-19 pandemic, additional global challenges such as climate change, rapidly emerging technologies, and geopolitical competition underscore the importance of strong integration of science, technology, and health (STH) into diplomatic and development missions for American prosperity and security.”
- However, one of us organized a AAAS Symposium on the topic: Elizabeth E. Lyons, “The Role of Higher Education in Science Diplomacy: Possibilities and Potential Pitfalls,” (AAAS Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, February 16, 2013), https://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2013/webprogram/Session5920.html.
- “Systemic Racism in Higher Education,” an article in Science with more than 10,000 signatories, documents how academic cultures, structures, and processes perpetuate racism, and suggests actions to remedy the situation: Paul H. Barber et al., “Systemic Racism in Higher Education,” Science 369, no. 6510 (September 18, 2020): 1440–1441, https://science.sciencemag.org/content/369/6510/1440.2. A recent National Academies study addressed racism in STEM: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, The Impacts of Racism and Bias on Black People Pursuing Careers in Science, Engineering, and Medicine: Proceedings of a Workshop (Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2020). Studies have long documented gender discrimination in academia and suggested evidence-based remedies. See, for example, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Evidence-Based Interventions for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2020). There are additional challenges faced by women undertaking international collaboration (e.g., Kathrin S. Zippel, Women in Global Science: Advancing Academic Careers through International Collaboration (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017). Numerous studies have documented how the pandemic differentially disadvantaged women in academia. This greater negative impact on women and minorities was referred to by journalist Ed Yong as an example of the “Matthew effect,” where small advantages are amplified over time; see Ed Yong, “How Science Beat the Virus,” Atlantic Monthly, December 14, 2020, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2021/01/science-covid-19-manhattan-project/617262.
- Multiple U.S. government agencies have long funded programs to increase diversity in STEM fields, and academic consortia such as the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU) are also now catalyzing such efforts by funding networks: “APLU funds catalytic efforts to diversity STEM faculty,” www.aplu.org/news-and-media/News/aplu-announces-grants-for-public-universities-to-support-stem-faculty-diversity-and-inclusion, December 10, 2020. The University of Texas, El Paso, a Hispanic-serving university, organized an NSF-funded workshop to share best practices for “Broadening Participation of Underrepresented Minorities in International Research” and also recommended international engagement at the institutional and faculty level, especially for minority-serving institutions: Heidi Taboada et al., Broadening Participation of Underrepresented Minorities in STEM Research Abroad, 2020, www.utep.edu/engineering/imse/stemresearchabroad/_Files/docs/TABOADA---OISE1848137-report.pdf.
- Decades of research have documented a “diversity dividend” where diversity within a group acts as a force multiplier and more diverse groups create more robust solutions. This research is reviewed in Mathias Wullum Nielsen et al., “Opinion: Gender diversity leads to better science,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 114, no. 8 (February 21, 2017): 1740–1742, www.pnas.org/content/114/8/1740.
- An example gender-focused science diplomacy is COACh, an organization based at the University of Oregon, founded by Chemistry Professor Geraldine Richmond, a former Science Envoy at the Department of State, to increase the scientific success and leadership capacity of women scientists and engineers around the world.
- The InterAcademy Council, in its 2012 report, “Responsible Conduct in the Global Research Enterprise: A Policy Report,” listed honesty, fairness, objectivity, reliability, skepticism, accountability, and openness. InterAcademy Council, “Responsible Conduct in the Global Research Enterprise: A Policy Report,” September 2012, https://oeawi.at/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Responsible-Conduct-in-the-Global-Res-Enterprise_IAC.pdf.
- Meredith L. Gore, Elizabeth S. Nichols, and Karen R. Lips, “Preparing Scientists for Science Diplomacy Requires New Science Policy Bridges,” The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 15, no. 3 (2020): 424–434.
- E. William Colglazier, “Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Catastrophic Failures of the Science-Policy Interface,” Science & Diplomacy, April 9, 2020, www.sciencediplomacy.org/editorial/2020/response-covid-19-pandemic-catastrophic-failures-science-policy-interface.
- NSF and NIH have each made over 1,000 awards for research related to COVID-19 and its impacts. Find NSF awards at www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/coronavirus or at Columbia University’s NSF-funded COVID Information Commons: https://covidinfocommons.datascience.columbia.edu; NIH awards can be found at https://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter.cfm.
- The Georgia Institute for Technology convenes a biennial set of meetings on science and innovation policy, advanced IP analytics for research, and global techmining: https://spp.gatech.edu/news/item/625810/atlanta-conference-science-innovation-policy-held-october-georgia-tech.
- Numerous organizations offer courses on SD, many of which have been filled or over-subscribed, including AAAS: www.aaas.org/programs/center-science-diplomacy/introduction and https://twas.org/opportunity/2020-aaas-twas-course-science-diplomacy and the European Union: www.s4d4c.eu/european-science-diplomacy-online-course.
- The University of California, Davis has a Community Engaged Learning Faculty Fellows Program: https://publicengagement.ucdavis.edu; the University of Michigan offers a Public Engagement Faculty Fellowship: https://ai.umich.edu/pe-faculty-fellowship.
- As mentioned above, “Systemic Racism in Higher Education,” an article in Science with more than 10,000 signatories, issued such a challenge; The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, an organization with 233 U.S. HEI members, has called for the eradication of racism and for the building of diverse, equitable, and inclusive STEM fields: “APLU Supports #ShutdownSTEM’s Call to Eradicate Racism & Build Diverse, Equitable & Inclusive STEM Fields,” June 10, 2020, www.aplu.org/news-and-media/blog/aplu-supports-shutdownstems-call-to-eradicate-racism---build-diverse-equitable--inclusive-stem-fields.
- Suresh V. Garimella, “Expanding the Global Reach of the Twenty-First-Century Research University,” Science & Diplomacy 7, no. 1 (March 2018), www.sciencediplomacy.org/perspective/2018/21st-century-research-university.
- HEI also have a long history of contributing to non-military dimensions of national security, e.g., by enforcing export control regulations, addressing foreign influence, advancing peace, and supporting activities that bolster national security by reducing threats from factors like food, energy, and water shortages; disease; ideological extremism; environmental degradation; and income inequality.
- Elizabeth E. Lyons et al., “How Collaborating in International Science Helps America,” Science & Diplomacy 5, no. 2 (June 2016), www.sciencediplomacy.org/article/2016/how-collaborating-in-international-science-helps-america; Caroline S. Wagner, 2018, The Collaborative Era in Science: Governing the Network (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018); American Academy of Arts and Sciences, America and the International Future of Science (Cambridge, MA: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2020), www.amacad.org/sites/default/files/publication/downloads/2020-CISP-Report-1.pdf.
- Jefferson Science Fellowship Program: https://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/Jefferson/index.htm and AAAS Fellowship Program: www.aaas.org/fellowships. Some Science Envoys have also been university faculty: www.state.gov/programs-office-of-science-and-technology-cooperation/u-s-science-envoy-program.
- See the Fulbright Program: https://fulbrightspecialist.worldlearning.org; the Benjamin A. Gilman Program, aimed at providing international experiences for underrepresented groups: https://exchanges.state.gov/us/program/benjamin-gilman-international-scholarship-program; and the 100,000 Strong in the Americas fund: www.100kstrongamericas.org/100000-strong-in-the-americas-innovation-fund-announces-new-grant-winning-institutions.
- See the International Visitor Leadership Program: https://eca.state.gov/ivlp; Humphrey Fellows: www.humphreyfellowship.org; and Diplomats in Residence: https://careers.state.gov/connect/dir.
- Multiple HEI now have programs in SD, including Georgetown University (which also hosts the Center for Security and Emerging Technologies), Tufts University, MIT, Harvard University, and George Washington University. More specialized SD activities include the Universities of California San Francisco and Berkeley Center for Global Health Delivery and Diplomacy; the Tufts University Water Diplomacy Research Coordination Network; Stanford University’s Hacking for Diplomacy, http://web.stanford.edu/class/msande298; the Department of State’s Science Diplomacy Labs, http://diplomacylab.org; and role-playing exercises in science diplomacy, https://diplomacy.state.gov/discover-diplomacy/about. For a systematic review of SD curriculum, see Jean-Christophe Mauduit and Marga Gual Soler, “Building a Science Diplomacy Curriculum,” Frontiers in Education 5 (August 11, 2020): 138, www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2020.00138/full.
- Efforts by universities to ensure broad participation in DOS programs will likely complement DOS efforts in this area; the September 2020 NASEM meeting on “Science, Technology, and Health Capabilities within the Department of State and USAID at an Inflection Point” included a breakout session entitled “Eliminating structural racism and promoting inclusivity and diversity,” in which participants identified challenges and possible reform efforts at the Department of State and USAID. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Science, Technology, and Health Capabilities within the Department of State and USAID at an Inflection Point (Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2020), www.nap.edu/catalog/26016/science-technology-and-health-capabilities-within-the-department-of-state-and-usaid-at-an-inflection-point.
- Science activities are supported by many USAID bureaus and missions, and are also championed by the Global Development Lab, www.usaid.gov/globaldevlab. Many philanthropies support humanitarian and development research, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust; in 2017 APLU championed an international initiative entitled “The Challenge of Change: Harnessing University Discovery, Engagement, and Learning to Achieve Food and Nutrition”: Security www.aplu.org/library/the-challenge-of-change/File.
- The College of William and Mary tracks development funding worldwide through its AidData program: www.wm.edu/offices/global-research/projects/aiddata-gri/index.php; the Sustainable Development Solutions Network-USA includes 115 institutions from 44 U.S. states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands: www.unsdsn.org/united-states.
- Fahmida N. Chowdhury, “Engineers Outside the Box: Pathways to Global Impact,” Science & Diplomacy 7, no. 1 (March 2018), www.sciencediplomacy.org/perspective/2018/engineers-outside-box; Drexel University has a Peace Engineering Master's Degree Program: https://drexel.edu/engineering/academics/areas-of-study-programs/peace-engineering; agricultural engineers at Michigan State University are applying precision agriculture in developing countries: www.canr.msu.edu/news/deploying-precision-agriculture-in-developing-countries-provides-opportunities-challenges; and Pennsylvania State University faculty are developing sustainable structural materials for building applications in East Africa: www.mri.psu.edu/mri/newspubs/focus-materials/advanced-manufacturing/esther-obonyo-wants-break-down-barriers-low-cost.
- Numerous institutions offer courses in development, e.g., George Washington University’s minor in Sustainability, https://sustainability.gwu.edu/sustainability-minor. The University of Virginia’s Global Studies program is an undergraduate interdisciplinary program with a focus on social justice, sustainable economic development, public health, global interconnection, and public service: https://globalstudies.virginia.edu/global-development-studies. Southern Illinois University offered an SDG teach-in in 2019: https://sustainability.siu.edu/participate/united-nations-sustainable-development-goals.php. Engineers Without Borders – USA, an organization with chapters primarily at academic institutions, undertakes projects, many of them student-led, to solve international development problems through engineering. The projects serve the needs of disadvantaged communities and provide students with service-learning opportunities.
- COVID-19-related travel restrictions reduced humanitarian access and made clear the value of synergies with new in-country actors. The Global Master’s in Development Practice (MDP), offered by the Sustainable Development Solution Network, a consortium that includes U.S. HEI, provides training to hundreds of students each year, many from Asian, South American, and sub-Saharan African countries: www.unsdsn.org/news/2019/07/26/sdsn-welcomes-the-consortium-of-masters-in-development-practice-mdp-programs; the Network Startup Resource Center at the University of Oregon has provided IT infrastructure, training, and internet connectivity to universities in over 120 countries: https://nsrc.org/about.
- For example, Michigan State University State embraced the world-grant university approach in 2004: https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2004/mcpherson-issues-challenges-for-the-new-revolution-in-msu-education and the Virginia Institute of Technology envisioned itself as a global land-grant institution in 2015: https://beyondboundaries.vt.edu/assets/global-land-grant-white-paper.pdf.
- Arizona State University has numerous science policy units, as well as a Decision Theater that allows policymakers to use supercomputers to run complex simulations of different scenarios: https://dt.asu.edu; the Association for Pacific Rim Universities, which includes HEI in Hawaii, California, Oregon, and Washington, engages in activities to increase the representation of women in science across its members in the Pacific region: https://apru.org/our-work/pacific-rim-challenges/asia-pacific-women-in-leadership; and science educators from the Oregon State University organized a workshop in Malaysia for science museum professions from the U.S. and nine Asian and South Asian countries with a focus on using museums to support and sustain public science literacy and engagement: www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1724213.
- MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Harvard Medical School provided advice to Portugal on its science policy and opened collaboration with Portuguese universities: www.chronicle.com/article/portugal-and-mit-will-collaborate-on-science-and-technology-research-119264; Purdue University provided advice on land use policy to Colombia: www.purdue.edu/colombia/partnerships/orinoquia/docs/Orinoquia%20Initiative%20Report%202018_English_w%20preamble_appendix.pdf.
- The University of Florida has a Public Utility Research Center that offers courses for utility regulators, policymakers, and infrastructure professionals from around the world: https://warrington.ufl.edu/public-utility-research-center/training-courses-and-development; Notre Dame University and many other HEI are actively involved in research and policy in global networks that use wastewater-based epidemiology to detect COVID-19: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7299382; The University of Washington’s Department of Global Health has undertaken a PEPFAR Policy Monitoring project that partners with multiple U.S. agencies, as well as South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Nigeria: https://globalhealth.washington.edu/pepfar-policy-monitoring; and the University of Wisconsin, the University of California, Los Angeles, and other U.S. HEI are part of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership Academic Alliance, providing research-based advice on land use: https://pfbc-cbfp.org/about-CBFP.html.
- Anu Ramuswami, University of Minnesota, was funded by NSF’s PIRE program to study transportation, energy, water, and health planning and policy for low-carbon cities in the U.S. and Asia: www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1243535; a team of researchers at Washington University has been funded to examine fairness in AI applications and policies: www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1939677; and Gretchen Daly, of Stanford University, worked with Chinese colleagues on biodiversity research and provided biodiversity mapping information that was used by China to protect ecologically sensitive areas: https://news.stanford.edu/2017/02/02/china-protect-areas-high-ecological-importance-identified-stanford-researchers.
- Roger Pielke, at the University of Colorado, Boulder, was recently funded by the NSF for a project entitled RAPID: Evaluation of Science Advice in a Pandemic Emergency (EScAPE): www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2029196 and multiple U.S. HEI scientists have participated in activities (such as the Pollinator Assessment) of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES); see Anne-Sophie Stevance et al., “The 2019 Review of IPBES and Future Priorities: Reaching Beyond Assessment to Enhance Policy Impact,” Ecosystems and People 16, no. 1 (2020): 70–77. Numerous authors have written about the impacts of immigration and border policies on scientific exchange, e.g., Caroline S. Wagner and Koen Jonkers, “Open Countries Have Strong Science,” Nature 550 (October 2017) 32–33.
- International S&T relationships number in the hundreds of thousands when considering international collaborations and co-authored scientific papers; science-related study abroad; international centers, consortia, and MOUs; overseas campuses of U.S. HEI; visiting faculty; and foreign-born students and faculty. Such faculty often link in a science diaspora that can advance international cooperation: see Rafiou Agoro, “African Diaspora Scientists as Development Catalysts”, Science & Diplomacy 7, no. 2 (June 2018), www.sciencediplomacy.org/article/2018/african-diaspora-scientists-development-catalysts. U.S. HEI can also host large scientific infrastructure that foster international collaboration, such as the Space Telescope Science Institute which is located on the Johns Hopkins University campus.
- Susan Buck Sutton and Elizabeth E. Lyons, “Unintentional Diplomats: International Science Engagement and Science Diplomacy by U.S. Higher Education Institutions,” Association of International Education Administrators, April 5, 2013, www.aieaworld.org/assets/docs/Additional_Resource_PDFs/suttonsb%20and%20lyonsee-%20unintentional%20diplomats.pdf.
- Michigan State University sponsors an Academy for Global Engagement to enable its faculty to take on global challenges: www.canr.msu.edu/news/new-academy-for-global-engagement-fellows-take-on-global-challenges; Pennsylvania State University has a Global Faculty Fellows program with similar aims: https://news.psu.edu/story/557399/2019/02/06/academics/penn-state-announces-new-global-faculty-fellows-2019.
- The University of Texas, El Paso, a Hispanic-serving university, organized an NSF-funded workshop to share best practices for Broadening Participation of Underrepresented Minorities in International Research: H. Taboada et al., (2020) Broadening Participation of Underrepresented Minorities in STEM Research Abroad, www.utep.edu/engineering/imse/stemresearchabroad/_Files/docs/TABOADA---OISE1848137-report.pdf; the Global E3 consortium, with 70 members institutions worldwide, including many U.S. HEI, offers engineering students international internships: www.iie.org/programs/global-e3o.
- Kathleen A. Galvin et al., 2016, “Co-design of transformative research for rangeland sustainability,” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 20 (June 2016): 8–14.
- Michigan’s three research-intensive universities have long partnered with domestic and international companies in the automotive industry: https://today.wayne.edu/news/2012/05/30/michigans-top-research-universities-fuel-21st-century-auto-industry-4529; the University of Iowa hosts the National Advanced Driving Simulator and partners with foreign and domestic universities and automotive companies: www.nads-sc.uiowa.edu; Arizona State University, together with Intel, partners with Vietnam in the Higher Engineering Education Alliance (HEEAP): https://heeap.org/tags/intel; and Duke University contribute to global pharmaceutical research through its partnership with AstraZeneca and National University of Singapore: www.astrazeneca.com/media-centre/articles/2020/astrazeneca-singapore-establish-strategic-partnerships-to-improve-health-through-innovation.html.
- In Northern Virginia, regional government, industry, and universities partner with Germany on tackling urban environmental sustainability; see Dale Medearis, “A New Frontier for Government-Supported International Science and Technology Cooperation: Transferring Urban Innovations to the United States,” Science & Diplomacy 2, no. 2 (June 2013), www.sciencediplomacy.org/sites/default/files/a_new_frontier_science__diplomacy.pdf. A recent report describes how countries, universities, and local government interact in Boston: Pavlina Ittelson and Jean-Christophe Mauduit, 2019, “Science & Diplomacy: How countries interact with the Boston innovation ecosystem,” DiploFoundation (2019), www.diplomacy.edu/sites/default/files/Boston_Science_Diplomacy.pdf.
- Two examples are the EU-based group, Using Science for/in Diplomacy for Addressing Global Challenges (S4D4C): www.s4d4c.eu and the U.S.-based AAAS Center for Science Diplomacy: www.aaas.org/programs/center-science-diplomacy.
- Just a few of many possible examples are the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors and its successor, the International Roadmap for Devices and Systems, which bring together universities, industry, and governments around the world to lay out a 15-year roadmap in these technologies; the Earth Leadership Program, which focuses on building collective leadership in academia and policy realms to address environmental and sustainability challenges, www.earthleadership.org; the International Universities Climate Alliance which brings together HEI on all continents to share and advance climate-related research, education, policy, and technical/industrial solutions, www.universitiesforclimate.org; the World Mosquito Program, which works with local communities, governments, non-government organizations, HEI and research institutes, philanthropists, and corporate partners to prevent mosquito-borne diseases, www.worldmosquitoprogram.org/en/work; and the Portal for International Collaboration Resources of the Engineering Research Centers (ERCs), which enables faculty and students at NSF-funded ERCs to find and be found for international partnerships: https://erc-assoc.org/international-collaboration-resources.
- Examples cover a huge range of activities that have by now been catalogued by many groups; one such compilation, assembled from March–August 2020 by one of us (EEL) lists international funding opportunities and other examples of consortia, platforms, and collaborative infrastructure around the world focused on non-medical scientific areas, http://nebigdatahub.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/COVID19-Research-funding-worldwide-11May2020-1.xlsx. These activities include publicly available COVID-19 dashboards (e.g., Johns Hopkins University global and U.S. COVID-19 dashboards and dashboards for South Africa and Canada); collaborative approaches to tackle COVID-19 such as crowd-sourcing and hackathons; the application of supercomputer resources (e.g., the COVID-19 HPC Consortium) and artificial intelligence in the fight against COVID-19; global efforts to track COVID-19 via wastewater-based epidemiology; societal impacts of COVID-19, including activities focused on economics, the environment, fairness and equity, privacy, and the sharing of intellectual property, data, and know-how with developing countries.