Washington, DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today introduced bipartisan legislation to enhance U.S. efforts at science diplomacy.
“China, Iran, and Venezuela are sending their scientists around the world and signing cooperative agreements with new partners,” Berman noted. “They clearly recognize science diplomacy as an important instrument of statecraft. We need to keep America in the business of sharing one of our greatest natural resources – our intellectual and creative capacity through science – to strengthen relationships with allies and forge new bonds with potential partners.”
The Global Science Program for Security, Competitiveness, and Diplomacy Act (H.R. 4801) would establish a program to provide grants to U.S. and foreign scientists, expand existing academic exchanges, strengthen the research infrastructure and curricula of institutes of higher learning in eligible countries, foster cooperative work on nuclear nonproliferation and encourage free or low-cost access to science journals on the Internet.
Cosponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), the legislation also formalizes the Obama Administration’s intention to enhance international science cooperation. In November Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the creation of a science envoy program. She indicated that that these envoys will "travel to North Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia to fulfill President Obama’s mandate to foster scientific and technological collaboration."
Berman noted, “In a world where so many countries are putting their best scientific minds to work on building nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, science diplomacy is a peaceful means through which we can engage one another constructively.”