By: David Luna
A few days ago I wrote a short introduction on science diplomacy with the intention of familiarizing Colombian readers with this concept. Science diplomacy is becoming stronger every day and we must bet on it as a means to promote innovation, research, and education. Due to its importance, today, I keep insisting on this topic.
A few days ago, I was fortunate to meet with Professor Larry Susskind, along with two other Colombians, Antonio Copete and Simón Buechler. Professor Susskind has been a professor at MIT since 1971 and is one of the leading voices of science diplomacy. We discussed how to implement science diplomacy in developing countries like ours. Although there have been a few countries that have already developed and adopted a measure of science diplomacy, many others, especially developing countries, should be more enthusiastic about the idea and put in place a plan for its implementation. Why? First, because through science diplomacy we can achieve more research and education exchanges, allowing Colombian students to attend the best universities in the world. Second, because science diplomacy helps create a larger business ecosystem for entrepreneurs, what can only be useful for the growth of their businesses.
Another conclusion is that Colombia is lacking the proper connection with the world in terms of education, research, and promotion of bilateral and multilateral cooperation. We have to be able to create a sustainable network of scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. We also must be able to offer advice on technology and innovation trends worldwide. Furthermore, we are obliged to promote our institutions of higher education and research, new companies, and other organizations driven by innovation, in order to inspire new ideas promoting the exchange of knowledge.
To implement science diplomacy, we can start by making efforts on a smaller scale. For example, the Foreign Ministry could impart knowledge on science diplomacy to all of our diplomatic corps in order for them to explore its implementation. This would come at zero bureaucracy cost.
Another idea may be to initially establish a presence in Boston or Silicon Valley, to further develop the exchange and strengthen the ties with innovative institutions. This would allow us to achieve alliances with Ivy League universities, forming a network of contacts and thus facilitating the dream of many Colombians to study in these renowned academic establishments. Doing so would have an immediate consequence in the development of science in our country, not only through knowledge, but also through
language. Despite the fact that Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, English is the one that predominates in research. If more Spanish speakers become fluent in English, this would lower the barriers to produce cutting-edge scientific research on Latin American.
That is why I will keep insisting on the topic of science diplomacy. Colombia took a giant leap by signing the peace agreement. Now it is the time to rewrite our history. Today we can focus on other concerns and science diplomacy should be a priority in order to help create a better Colombia.