Lecture on science diplomacy

PETALING JAYA: The UCSI University’s International Institute of Science Diplomacy and Sustainability is organising its third invitational lecture on March 9.

The two-hour lecture will be held at UCSI University KL Campus (Senate Room, Level 11, Block G) in Cheras, from 10.30am.

The topic is Science diplomacy in the era of sustainability: Towards global peace and prosperity.

Many of the sustainability challenges of this century such as poverty alleviation, food security, climate change, biodiversity loss, plastic pollution, and water availability have scientific dimensions.

No one country will be able to solve these problems on its own. The 2015 UN Millennium Summit which resulted in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the 2015 Climate Agreement are two examples of science diplomacy in action.

The practice of foreign policy today needs to adapt to a world of increasing scientific and technical complexity.

The lecture will focus on three dimensions of science diplomacy:

a) informing foreign policy objectives with scientific advice (science in diplomacy)

b) facilitating international science cooperation (diplomacy for science)

c) using science cooperation to improve international relations between countries (science for diplomacy)

The speaker is distinguished Prof Dr Rita Colwell, who is former US president Barack Obama’s science envoy.

Prof Colwell is a world-renowned environmental microbiologist and scientific administrator. She was the first woman to serve as director of the US National Science Foundation.

A member of the US National Academy of Sciences, Prof Colwell received the National Medal of Science for her work in studying oceans, climate and human health. In recognition of her work in the world’s polar regions, the geological site in Antarctica, Colwell Massif, has been named in her honour.

Prof Colwell was awarded the Mahathir Science Award in 2015 for her work on the bacterium that causes cholera. During Obama’s tenure, she was one of three science envoys appointed by the Secretary of State to promote science diplomacy among the developing nations. She was instrumental in spreading community-based water safety education and introducing viable, low-cost technological innovations in communities throughout Asia-Pacific and Africa.

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