National Research Council tells US to take science and technology more seriously on the diplomatic stage

The role of science and technology should be significantly expanded throughout the US State Department given its importance to various key foreign policy issues such as climate change, according to a US National Research Council (NRC) report.

Beyond augmenting and continuously updating the State Department’s science and technology capabilities, the NRC panel calls for a cultural change at the department and US embassies abroad so that scientific competence is considered an equally important aspect of diplomacy as language fluency and area expertise.

The NRC report, requested by the State Department itself, further recommends that the department’s science and technology adviser post be elevated and given equivalent status to that of an assistant secretary.

In addition, the panel recommends the creation of a science and technology advisory board at the State Department, comprised of independent experts, to provide insights on non-defence issues that involve science and technology, such as the development of better battery and energy storage devices, control of infectious disease outbreaks, synthetic biology and international competition for high-tech talent.