Lecture by Professor Pierre-Bruno Ruffini on science diplomacy

Lecture by Professor Pierre-Bruno Ruffini on science diplomacy

On March 13, 2018, Professor at the University of Le Havre (France), Mr. Pierre-Bruno Ruffini, delivered a lecture in English on the topic "Science Diplomacy: Basic Concepts and Key Issues" at RSUH. 

Professor Ruffini started his speech by explaining how these concepts of diplomacy and science can be related, and why such relationship is mutually beneficial. One of the main tasks of diplomacy is to promote national interests at the world level: diplomats, promoting international scientific cooperation, thereby improve international relations between countries concerned, and the use of scientific approach in diplomacy helps to set the optimal objectives of the foreign policy of the country thus promoting national interests.

Professor Ruffini noted that the term "science diplomacy" has arisen relatively recently and conceptually formed only with the release of the book "New Frontiers in Scientific diplomacy" in 2010. However, in history there are many examples when science issues were on the level of diplomatic relations before the existence of "science diplomacy" as a concept. Professor mentions such projects as ITER (International Experimental thermonuclear reactor) - the creation of the world's first experimental thermonuclear reactor, as well as IPCC (Intergovernmental Commission on Climate Change), in which countries share common efforts to combat the negative effects of climate change, as examples of scientific and diplomatic cooperation. Through these examples, Mr. Ruffini stressed that science diplomacy should become an integral part of foreign policy.

At the end of his lecture the professor was glad to answer all the questions from the audience. The Vice-Rector for International Cooperation Vera Ivanova Zabotkina, whose welcoming speech opened the lecture, asked about the connection between science and public diplomacy. Professor Ruffini replied that science diplomacy, despite public opinion, is not a subset of public diplomacy, the main purpose of which is to form public opinion through the media, and should be perceived as a separate process.

Vice-rector for scientific work Olga Vyacheslavovna Pavlenko asked Professor Ruffini how the scientific and diplomatic projects cope with the difference of such concepts as "power", "force", "politics" in different social, political and national contexts. The Professor explained that projects in the field of science diplomacy tend to encourage cultural and language diversity and prepare all normative documents in different languages with the help of professional translators.

The last question was asked by the Associate Professor of the Department of Theory and Practice of Public Relations of the Faculty of History, Political science and Law Maria Alexandrovna Steinman. As RSUH is one of the country's leading universities in the humanities, Maria Alexandrovna asked about the role humanities play in science diplomacy. Professor Ruffini cited an example of archeology and history. It would seem that there is no connection between these scientific fields and diplomacy? It turns out that archaeologists conducting excavations in the territory of foreign countries have valuable knowledge acquired during their work, for example, about the nature of the terrain, the extent of the territory and cultural characteristics of the population. During the international negotiations, diplomats consult with archaeologists to achieve results that correlate with historical territorial and cultural peculiarities.

At the end of the lecture Professor Ruffini noted with regret that at the moment there is no science diplomacy in Russia, but also added that its development is one of the elements of the State scientific and technical policy of Russia, the importance of which is noted in the "Strategy of scientific and technological development of the Russian Federation", adopted by the decree of the President of Russia in December, 2016. This trend, according to the professor, is a favorable sign for the emergence of science diplomacy in Russia in the future. 

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