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Global Science

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Science & technology (S&T) have always crossed borders. Even during the most difficult periods of world history, international scientists were still striving to work together. Today, however, science is evolving from an international phenomenon to a truly globalised endeavour – one that not only crosses borders but also transcends them. More so than ever before, it is now essential for researchers and policymakers think globally when looking for partners, projects and resources. While there are still “leaders” in the scientific enterprise, their leadership is increasingly defined by their ability to integrate the best ideas and partnerships from around the world. The term “global science” captures this increasingly borderless nature of science and technology research.

The era of Global Science emerged amid technological, institutional and policy contexts in which scientific research now takes place. New technologies have made the reproduction and dissemination of knowledge more efficient. The expanding membership and strengthening of global institutions, such as the World Trade Organisation, have provided a legal basis for the international flow of knowledge embodied in trade, investment and intellectual property rights. Countries in every region of the world are starting to place knowledge-intensive growth at the heart of their economic policies.

Global Science and Society

Science has become an integral part of global society, particularly in terms of economic growth. Disparities in wealth and standards of living are, to a large extent, a result of the divergence in R&D investment over long periods of time. In the era of Global Science, S&T can now play a major role in narrowing the economic gap between countries and bring about a substantial rise in standard of living in developing countries. Knowledge-intensive growth, which was previously the preserve of the world’s wealthiest nations, is now a major goal of countries across the entire world. Economies that have the absorptive capacity to take advantage of new technologies and practices developed elsewhere have a higher chance of experiencing robust and sustainable economic growth.

Global Science can make a greater contribution than ever before to wider society. This can be seen across each and every discipline. The science of astronomy, for example, combines S&T with inspiration and excitement to contribute to education, technological capacity building, and culture[1]:

  • Education: Astronomy provides students of all levels with an exciting introduction to the power of mathematics and methodical thinking
  • Technological Capacity Building: As a science that studies the extremes of size and distance, astronomy has driven the development of advanced technologies in electronics, optics, and information technology
  • Culture: Exploration of the universe satisfies the deepest cultural and philosophical yearnings of the human species and draws attention to our shared dependence on each other and the planet, thereby stimulating a sense of global citizenship.

Global Science and Diplomacy

Today, science is an essential component of diplomacy around the world. The concept of “science diplomacy” has emerged as nations utilize scientific collaborations to address common problems and to build constructive international partnerships. The concept itself is multifaceted.  In January 2010, the Royal Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) noted that "science diplomacy" refers to three main types of activities:

  • “Science in diplomacy”: Science can provide advice to inform and support foreign policy objectives.
  • “Diplomacy for science”: Diplomacy can facilitate international scientific cooperation.
  • "Science for diplomacy”: Scientific cooperation can improve international relations.

[1] International Astronomical Union Astronomy for Development Strategic Plan 2010-2020