The Advent of Science Diplomacy: A Paradigm Shift in the Making?

Event Details

Prof Robert Patman, Sunday, October 11, 5:30 to 7 p.m., The Rees Hotel Queenstown conference room.
Entry five dollars at the door. Please register at

The globalising world has challenged the old dichotomy between science and diplomacy, leading to the advent of Science Diplomacy. Is this a major paradigm change or simply a minor adjustment in foreign policy-making? On one hand, diplomatic efforts to tackle major problems like climate change have proven immensely disappointing. On the other, diplomacy has initiated and helped manage large-scale international collaborative efforts like the International Space Station, the Large Hadron Collider and the Square Kilometre Array project. This mixed record highlights the paradox of increasing numbers of problems requiring international scientific solutions versus the many sovereign states clinging to the old doctrine of unfettered state sovereignty in an increasingly interconnected world. This paradox is unlikely be resolved until there is better communication of science to both diplomats and the populace, and a recognition by states that many pressing problems today do not respect sovereign boundaries.

Prof Patman is Head of Department of Politics at University of Otago, was founding director of the multi-disciplinary Master of International Studies programme and seven times director of the annual University of Otago Foreign Policy School. Last year, with Otago scientist Lloyd Davis, he co-wrote “Science Diplomacy: New Day or False Dawn?” He is a Fulbright Senior Scholar and provides regular contributions to national and international media on global issues and events.

Prof Robert Patman
Prof Robert Patman