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The Hurford Science Diplomacy Initiative

Sponsored by the Hurford Foundation, the Hurford Science Diplomacy Initiative aims to help early career scientists understand the global context for their work and thus enable them to work more effectively at international levels.


Course Title

Science Diplomacy 2022: Faces of Science Diplomacy


Jesse AusubelMande Holford

Jesse Ausubel, Director of Program for the Human Environment, & Mandë Holford, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Hunter College, & American Museum of Natural History


The shorthand term Science Diplomacy (SD) spans wide-ranging activities connecting science and technology with international affairs. With particular attention to global health and environment, the series of seven seminars will sample the current landscape of SD issues, programs, and organizations. The goals of the course are to help early career life scientists: (a) think more systematically about the global potential of their work, including ethical, political, and economic implications; and (b) become acquainted with the people, networks, and resources available for scientific cooperation, including for those nations with whom cooperation may be especially difficult.

The COVID pandemic and climate change exemplify the centrality of science and technology to global well-being and the relations among nations, and for international negotiations and policies. COVID displays many faces of Science Diplomacy, for example, operation of international networks to provide reliable, timely data; risk evaluation and advising governments about transnational threats; and international collaboration to mitigate such threats. COVID has familiarized many people with the promise and perils of international organizations involved in Science Diplomacy such as the World Health Organization. It has alerted humanity to the potential power of infectious diseases as biological weapons and disruptors of development.  The reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show the potential and problems of groups of scientific experts “speaking truth to power.”

Comparable narratives could be offered for other major issues with strong scientific dimensions such as loss of biodiversity, conservation of cultural heritage, and the evolution and governance of the Internet.

While COVID has shown the importance of open channels of communication worldwide among working scientists and physicians, and among science advisers to governments, it has also shown the vulnerabilities associated with ignorance, overconfidence, disinformation, and misinformation. It has shown the complexity of the real world, including the plural rationalities that exist and persist in human societies. Meanwhile, the Internet and other technological innovations have sharply increased capacity and appetite for global scientific collaborations, often based on open access and transparency, but they may also increase volatility of knowledge and behaviors with surprising outcomes, in turn affecting the practice of both diplomacy and science.

In the course, we will offer some frameworks for thinking about Science Diplomacy and share some of its history, including how it relates to The Rockefeller University. We will explore how SD can matter for a range of issues, including who will do science, war and terror, environment, and art.  We will examine challenges for SD, including tangible initiatives to address changing needs and goals, and excessive reliance on models of rational behavior. We will explore some critiques of SD, in particular that it reinforces particular structures of power.

This course is a sequel to the ones previously offered, and participants from prior years are welcome to attend again. Several sessions will use polling to learn and analyze views of the course participants.

The blend of in-person and remote participation will depend on conditions during February and March. We hope to have many sessions in-person.  The field trip to Washington DC will similarly depend on conditions as the dates of the trip near.

Time: 3-5pm Thursday (When possible to meet in person, the venue is likely to be Kellen Biolink.)

Past Curricula

202120202019201820172016, 2015, 2014

Course Outline

Week 1
Feb. 10, 2022
Kimberly Montgomery

Topic: Science and Diplomacy: An introduction and the post-COVID agenda

Session Leader: Mandë Holford
  • participant introductions
  • Royal Society Framework
  • data about global science and movements of scientists (IEE)
  • with help of polling and students, identification of major issues: Who will do science, climate & oceans, Internet & cyber, China’s roles in S&T
  • AAAS program in SD
Guest: Kimberly Montgomery, Director of International Affairs and Science Diplomacy, AAAS

New Frontiers in Science Diplomacy: Navigating the Changing Balance of Power. A Royal Society Policy Document 2010

Issues of AAAS SD news
Science & Diplomacy Special 10th Anniversary Issue
Special Issue Science & Diplomacy: Twelve months of COVID19

Science Diplomacy and Future Worlds by E. William Colglazier
How science diplomacy can help navigate the post-pandemic world (Nature 8 July 2021)

Websites to Browse:
Global health security index  Open Doors, resource on international students and scholars studying or teaching at higher education institutions in US, and US students studying abroad.  Note survey of international exchange activity in the United States and Americans abroad, explore new Open Doors.

Week 2
Feb. 17, 2022
Nebojsa Nakicenovic

Topic: Science advice to the highest levels of government: Europe and the UN

Session Leader: Jesse Ausubel
  • White House Science and science advising
  • science in the US Department of State
  • Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
  • science in the UN
  • COVID origins controversy
  • science in the European Union
Guest: Nebojsa Nakicenovic , Vice Chair, Group of Seven Chief Scientific Advisors to the European Commission (also former member of advisory group to UN SG)

Science, Technology, and Government for a Changing World
Summary Report of the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government, New York, 1993
The Lab-Leak Debate Just Got Even Messier
A Covid Origin Conspiracy?  Newly released emails make more plausible the contention that Anthony Fauci and Francis Collins presided over the suppression of the lab-leak theory for political reasons.

Websites to Browse:Office of Science and Technology Policy | The White House

Members of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors

IPBES Home page | IPBES secretariat
IPCC — Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Week 3
Feb. 24, 2022
Rafiou Agoro
Mohamed Cissé
Linda Kamau
Phyliss Kalele

Topic: Science from and for Africa

Session Leader: Mandë Holford
  • Who will do science and roles of Africa in particular?
  • Holford/Faherty initiative
  • African diaspora
  • critiques of SD, challenges to elite clubby approaches
Guests: Rafiou Agoro, Mohamed Cissé, Linda Kamau, Phyllis Kalele

African Diaspora Scientists as Development Catalysts
Can Science Save Africa?
How African scientists can give back to their home continent.
Using African Indigenous Languages in Science Engagement to Increase Science Trust.
Conceptualizing science diplomacy in the practitioner-driven literature: a critical review Pierre-Bruno Ruffini, Humanities and Social Sciences Communications volume 7, 124 (2020)
The Sensationalist Discourse of Science Diplomacy: A Critical Reflection, Tim Flink, Hague Journal of Diplomacy

Websites to Browse:
Science Diplomacy | TWAS
World Association of Young Scientists - UNESCO

Diplomacy with a Caribbean Touch: Interview with Cuban Ambassador Torres Rivera

Week 5
Mar. 10, 2022
Linda Zall
Jeff Dozier

Topic: Scientists and Spies: History, Achievements, and Legacy of CIA's Medea Climate Science Program

Session Leader: Jesse Ausubel
  • problems of dual loyalty
  • secrecy and classification
  • competition and advantages of technical leadership
  • hypersonics, submarine detection
  • cyber-security
  • Israel, Iran
Guest Speaker: Linda Zall and Jeff Dozier (and Stan Orser); Marty Leidner, RU IT


Scientists in Black, Jeffrey T. Richelson Scientific American February 1998

28 May 28 2021 speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping to members of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Engineering, and national congress of China Association for S&T

Wen Ho Lee Los Alamos spy allegation

Websites to Browse:




Natanz 2021 incident

1982 Trans-Siberian gas pipeline explosion – Trojan Horse

Week 6
Mar. 17, 2022
Philippe Bouchet

Topic: International expeditions to unexplored waters

Session Leaders: Mandë Holford


  • cooperative international fieldwork
  • issues of ethics and intellectual property relating to samples, including genetic information
  • areas beyond national jurisdiction
  • UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development

Guest Speaker: Philippe Bouchet


Field reports from Dr. Bouchet

Nations Convene in Geneva to Set Stage for UN Biodiversity

Venoms to the rescue, M Holford et al, Science, 2018

Census of Marine Life Concluding report, Highlights of a Decade of Discovery

Retrospective on CoML, pdf of slides here.

Websites to Browse:

Convention on Biological Diversity

The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing

Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR)

Partnership for Observation of the Global Ocean (POGO)

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC)

United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development


Wrap-up session of the 17-19 November UN Ocean Decade “Clean Ocean” webinar

Week 7
Mar. 24, 2022
Cameron Bess

Topic: Science diplomacy, cultural heritage, and art: the Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project

Session Leader: Jesse Ausubel


  • science for cultural heritage
  • paleopathology
  • ethics of ancient DNA, question of collections and museums, repatriation
  • Leonado DNA Project as case study
Guest Speaker:
Thomas Sakmar

Characterizing Microbial Signatures on Sculptures and Paintings of Similar Provenance, Manolito G. Torralba, Claire Kuelbs, Kelvin Jens Moncera, and Karen E. Nelson, Microbial Ecology, 2020

“Evidence for extraordinary visual acuity in Leonardo’s comment on a dragonfly,” and “Sfumato in Leonardo’s portraits: Optical and psychophysical mechanism, David S Thaler, Actes du Colloque International d’Amboise: Leonardo de Vinci, Anatomiste. Pionnier de l’Anatomie comparée, de la Biomécanique, de la Bionique et de la Physiognomonie, ed Henry de Lumley, CNRS Paris, 2021

Epidemics and pandemics in the history of humankind and how governments dealt with them A review from the Bronze Age to the Early Modern Age, Michael E. Habicht, F. Donald Pate, Elena Varotto, Francesco M. Galassi

The Coronavirus Calendar (CoronaCal): a Simplified SARS-CoV-2 Test System for Sampling and Retrospective Analysis, David S. Thaler, Manija A. Kazmi, Karina C. Åberg, Jordan M. Mattheisen, Thomas Huber, and Thomas P. Sakmar

Websites to Browse:


FAPAB Research Center (Forensic Anthropology, Paleopathology and Bioarchaeology)

The Leonardo Da Vinci DNA Project: Exploring the Intersections of Science and Art, lecture in YouTube featuring Jesse Ausubel, Karina Åberg, and Thomas P. Sakmar

Field Trip to Washington, D.C (pandemic permiting)
Apr. 14-15, 2022
Visits with:

Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, head of the Center, Glenn Nye, former member of Congress

Dr. Cameron Bess, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Dr. Vaughan C. Turekian, Executive Director, Policy and Global Affairs; Roundtable on Global Science Diplomacy

Dinner with Washington DC experts in Science Diplomacy, Cosmos Club, guests including

Dr. Giusi Condorelli, Science Attache, Embassy of Italy in Washington DC   

Dr Scott Miller, Chief Scientist, Smithsonian 

Dr. Stephane Raud, Attache for Science and Technology, Embassy of France in Washington DC 

Mr. Richard Stone, Senior Science Editor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute 

Dr. Maryam Zaringhalam, Open Science Officer, NIH; RU graduate

New Executive Office Building, Office of Science and Technology Policy of the White House, Dr. Matthew Daniels, also here, Assistant Director of OSTP for Space Security and Special Projects; Benjamin Chang, OSTP policy advisor for international S&T

US-Russia FoundationMatthew Rojansky. President and Chief Executive Officer; subjects: scientific cooperation between nations in conflict, science in Russia and Ukraine

Course Schedule

Dates: Thursdays, Feb. 10-Mar. 24, 2022
Time: 3-5pm

Student Science Diplomacy Project

Project: Science Soap Box

Science Soapbox is a student-run podcast at the intersection of science, policy, and advocacy initiated by SD alums Maryam Zaringhalam, Avital Percher, and Devon Collins. The podcast acts as a public-facing platform to highlight insights from emerging and prominent thinkers influencing science and its impact on society through policymaking, community engagement, and diplomacy.

Additional Reading List

The items listed are essential background reading. Two or three additional articles will be distributed each week pertaining to the weekly topics.

  1. The Challenge of Building Science Diplomacy Capabilities for Early Career Academic Investigators, by  Holford, M, Nichols, R, AAAS Science and Diplomacy, January 29, 2018.
  2. A tale of two states, Holford, M, Nichols, R, Science, 2015. 349:6247
  3. The Science of Science Policy: A Handbook (Innovation and Technology in the World E), by Julia Lane, Kaye Fealing, John Marburger III and Stephanie Shipp (Mar 18, 2011)
  4. Global Research Infrastructures: A Decade of Science Diplomacy, By Amy K. Flatten, AAAS Science and Diplomacy, September 27, 2018
  5. New Frontiers in Science Diplomacy: Navigating the Changing Balance of Power.A Royal Society Policy Document 2010, ISBN: 978-0-85403-811-4
  6. Promoting Scientific Cooperation in Times of Diplomatic Challenges Sustained Partnership between the Cuban Academy of Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. By Jorge Pastrana S, Gual Soler M, Wang TC. MEDICC Lessons in International Cooperation, April 2018.
  7. Science and Technology in US International Affairs, Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government, reprinted 1993.
  8. Diplomacy for the 21st Century: Embedding a Culture of Science and Technology Throughout the Department of State, by U.S. National Research Council 2015

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