Navigating Conferences to Enhance Science Diplomacy and Communication in the Post-COVID-19 Era
COVID-19 has renewed the importance of science diplomacy, with international cooperation and scientific collaboration across borders more critical than ever to combat the pandemic. To better disseminate rapidly developing innovations and scientific expertise, there is a need to reevaluate the relationship between modes of scientific communications and traditional diplomatic channels. Although science diplomacy is traditionally between national governments or international organizations such as the United Nations, individual connections between scientists from different countries is itself a form of science diplomacy. Scientific conferences are a key component of science diplomacy and more broadly bring scientists and their industrial, governmental, and philanthropic partners together from across the world to discuss major scientific advances and challenges. Through international scientific collaborations that will form during such conferences, the scientific community can broker new partnerships where formal political relationships are strained. Thus, it is essential that virtual scientific conferences are made accessible in order to facilitate effective science diplomacy. Here we explore the major obstacles of in-person conferences (high cost, locally-focused, and less equitable) which limit how global conversations can benefit from scientific knowledge, as well as opportunities offered by virtual meetings (affordability, global participation, equitable nature) to foster science diplomacy. Further, we provide recommendations that can enable future conferences, both fully or partially virtual, to strengthen science diplomacy post-COVID-19.
Borth, L; Gilfarb, R; Hsain, A; Jackson, C; Lolinco, A; Meyrueix, L; Nathan, S; Schmehl, MN; Upadhyay, P
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