Special Report: 2023 Diplomatic Skills Training for Emerging Scientists

Executive Summary

Launched in 2018, the National Science Policy Network (NSPN) is a non-profit whose mission is to support and create opportunities for early career scientists in science policy, advocacy, and diplomacy. Since 2022, NSPN has hosted a diplomatic skills training program in partnership with the Meridian International Center, a non-partisan, nonprofit diplomacy center whose mission is to strengthen engagement between the United States and the world to find solutions to shared global challenges.

The goals of the 2023 program were: (1) to fill the gap in essential diplomacy knowledge for NSPN members who come from STEMM (i.e., science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine) backgrounds, (2) to train NSPN members in soft skills that are required in diplomacy, and (3) to launch the careers of next-generation leaders in science diplomacy. This workshop report covers the motivation and structure of the program, course highlights, key takeaways from the class sessions, and a conclusion assessing the program's effectiveness in reaching its goals. As 2023 course participants, the authors conclude that the course effectively trained participants to meet the above strategic goals.

The intended audiences of this review are the Meridian International Center, NSPN staff and its members, individuals interested in science diplomacy, and organizations that intend to host similar training opportunities in the future.

Editor's Note

Diplomatic Skills Training Course for Emerging Scientists, a collaborative effort with the National Science Policy Network to empower early-career scientists with the essential tools of diplomacy.
While scientists are experts in research and analysis, diplomacy often requires leveraging skills in communication, networking, and overcoming bureaucratic hurdles. Understanding the complex inner workings of the diplomatic apparatus, including the U.S. Department of State, embassies, and multilateral organizations can aid scientists in successfully leveraging their expertise in science and technology, environmental issues, and public health into a career in foreign policy. To bridge the gap between technical expertise and the soft skills needed for success in the diplomatic arena, Meridian partnered with the National Science Policy Network (NSPN) in 2022 to create a Diplomatic Skills Training for Scientists.

Meridian International Center and its Center for Diplomatic Engagement are privileged to present an insightful overview of this initiative, put together by 2023 course participants, which marks an ongoing stride in bridging the gap between science and diplomacy

Summer 2024 marks the third year of this program, where participants will delve into the world of international relations, learn about the fundamentals of diplomacy, explore the nuances of multilateral and public diplomacy, study the art of diplomatic protocol, and develop negotiation strategies and tools for effective cross-cultural communication. The genesis of this endeavor dates to 2018, when the National Science Policy Network (NSPN) embarked on its mission to nurture the next generation of leaders in science policy, advocacy, and diplomacy. Building on the success of previous engagements, the collaboration with the Meridian International Center in 2022 saw the inception of a pilot Diplomatic Skills Training Course, laying the groundwork for a transformative educational journey.

To our esteemed readership comprising the Meridian International Center, NSPN stakeholders, aspiring science diplomats, and institutions contemplating similar endeavors, we invite you to delve into the wealth of insights from former course participants offered within these pages. May this report serve as both a testament to the power of collaboration and a catalyst for future initiatives to empower the next generation of science diplomats.

Project summary

Special Report: 2023 Diplomatic Skills Training for Emerging Scientists
Impact Areas: Science and Technology
Program Areas: Diplomatic Engagement