Science Diplomacy is Crucial to U.S. Foreign Policy

The United States is and must remain the global leader in science, technology, higher education and innovation. Respect for American science and technology is evident even in regions where there are strong negative views of U.S. foreign policies – students from around the world still flock to attend our colleges and universities. As we seek to promote our national security interests overseas, we should turn this strength into an effective tool for U.S. diplomacy.

Many of our most pressing foreign policy challenges – energy, climate change, disease, desperate poverty and underdevelopment, and WMD proliferation – demand both technological and policy solutions. In these and other areas, U.S. national security depends on our willingness to share the costs and benefits of scientific progress with other nations.

Enhanced international scientific cooperation can also lead to greater economic prosperity at home. The U.S. needs new technologies and markets to create jobs, grow new industries and rebuild consumer and investor confidence. Sustainable international partnerships allow us to leverage limited resources and give American companies access to cutting edge research and expertise around the world.

We, the undersigned Democrats and Republicans, believe President Obama, the Administration, and Congress should elevate the role of Science Diplomacy in U.S. national security and foreign policy, and should work to:

  • Strengthen links between U.S. and foreign scientific communities as a key part of U.S. diplomacy;
  • Offer scientific cooperation and technological assistance as a bridge to opening broader dialogue with former adversaries and as an incentive to prevent conflict;
  • Bring the world’s top scientists and engineers together to tackle pressing global challenges like energy security, climate change, poverty, disease, and WMD proliferation; and
  • Provide funding for exchange programs, collaborative research, technical assistance and capacity building to fully qualified U.S. governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Now is the time to draw upon every tool of U.S. power to promote our interests in the world. We should make maximum use of a core strength of this country – Science Diplomacy.


Peter Agre Nobel Prize, Chemistry, 2003; AAAS President 2009-10
Howard Baker U.S. Senator (R-TN) 1967-85
David Baltimore Nobel Prize, Physiology or Medicine, 1975
Samuel Berger National Security Advisor 1997-2001
Vinton G. Cerf Vice President & Chief Internet Evangelist, Google
Rita Colwell Director, National Science Foundation 1998-2004
Paula J. Dobriansky Under Secretary of State 2001-09
Slade Gorton U.S. Senator (R-WA) 1981-87, 1989-2001
Lee Hamilton U.S. Congressman (D-IN) 1965-99; PSA Co-Chair
Gary Hart U.S. Senator (D-CO) 1975-87
Siegfried S. Hecker Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory 1986-97
Carla Hills U.S. Trade Representative 1989-93
Roald Hoffmann Nobel Prize, Chemistry, 1981
Alice Huang President, AAAS 2010-11
Nancy Kassebaum-Baker U.S. Senator (R-KS) 1978-97
Thomas Kean Governor, New Jersey 1982-90; 9/11 Commission Chair
Neal Lane Science Advisor to the President 1998-2001
David Lee Nobel Prize, Physics, 1996
John Lehman Secretary of the Navy 1981-87
John H. Marburger III Science Advisor to the President 2001-09
William Perry Secretary of Defense 1994-97
Thomas Pickering Under Secretary of State 1997-2000; Chair, CRDF Advisory Council
Peter Raven Director, Missouri Botanical Garden
John Whitehead Deputy Secretary of State 1985-88
Frank Wisner Under Secretary of State 1992-93
William Wulf President, National Academy of Engineering 1996-2007; Vice-Chair, CRDF Board of Directors





Please read the Baltimore Sun op-ed on political science and the San Diego Union-Tribune op-ed on science diplomacy and conflict reduction, both written by Dr. Peter Agre and Amb. Thomas Pickering. In addition, please look at the San Francisco Chronicle’s blog piece on global security and scientific progress.

This project is made possible by the generous support of CRDF, AAAS, and the Richard Lounsbery Foundation.