School to debate science diplomacy

Canadian Daryl Copeland, an advocate of "guerrilla diplomacy" - which seeks to resolve international issues by non-traditional means - will be among the leading speakers at the University of Otago's latest Foreign Policy School.

Mr Copeland served as a Canadian diplomat (1981-2009) in several countries, including Thailand and New Zealand, and has written a book, Guerrilla Diplomacy: Rethinking International Relations (2009).

More than 120 people are expected to attend the university's 46th annual school, which is devoted to "Science Diplomacy: New Day or False Dawn?"

An Otago international relations specialist, Prof Robert Patman, and Prof Lloyd Davis, director of the university Centre for Science Communication, are the school's co-directors.

It will be held at St Margaret's College from June 24 to 26.

Science diplomacy had become "the new catch cry for international relations", school organisers said.

Prof Patman said it had been suggested science diplomacy could solve the issues facing the world, "from global warming to space exploration to international terrorism".

Some sceptics disputed such claims, and the school would critically examine them, he said. Science diplomacy had "gathered momentum" over the past three or four years.

At a narrow level this involved "trying to get more and better science into international diplomacy", but on a wider level the new approaches were "challenging traditional diplomacy".

It was "very hard" to imagine a key international question, such as climate change or economic growth, that did not involve science.

In an increasingly interdependent world, science could become "a bridge for countries to use" to work together in ways they otherwise could not.

The New Zealand Government also wanted to participate in forms of science diplomacy, he said.

Many aspects would be explored at the school, including mineral and oil exploitation, the Islamic world and the use of science to improve international relations.

Other speakers include Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully, United States-based Centre for Science Diplomacy director Dr Vaughan Turekian, Dr Atsushi Sunami, of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Japan, and Otago marine science head Prof Gary Wilson.


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