Building on successes from Warsaw Science Diplomacy School 2020, this year’s training program by InsSciDE dove even deeper into the skills, systems and practices lining the path ’from Wissenschaft to Statecraft’.

We’ve prepared a detailed review of the week, intended to provide insight into the school for curious stakeholders as well as serve as inspiration for undertakers of similar training endeavors. 

Check out the overview here of Warsaw Science Diplomacy School 2021, hosted 21-25 June, and visit the links for each Day for detailed summaries and select session recordings made public!

The select session recordings are also available in our Video Gallery!


Organized primarily by seven of InsSciDE’s international project partners, the training centred around four historical case studies of SD, which were analysed in ‘case study teams’ and served as a base in developing strategic and critical thinking around science, foreign policy and SD. In parallel, the week was enriched with specialist panels on practical elements for being a successful science diplomat, the variety of forms of SD and the (less commonly discussed) risk, safety and security aspects of the practice.

With limited ‘live time’, students completed pre-study assignments ahead of the WSDS week, including modules from the European Science Diplomacy MOOC (by ‘sister project’ S4D4C), recommended readings and a warm-up session with their ‘case study team’ and case study author.


Twenty-four multidisciplinary and global students were carefully selected from over one hundred applications received, many supplementing their application with nominations from notable institutions. (Special thanks the institution representatives who took the time to highlight particularly promising candidates to us!)

The map shows the global spread of our students‘ nationalities (red pins) and, when abroad, where they live/work (green pins).

DAY 1 – Introductions, Open Session and Practitioners’ Panel

WSDS kicked off with a round of introductions and icebreakers, an open session with themes of power and geopolitical transitions, and a panel of practitioners testifying to the joys, challenges and daily life of being a science diplomat. At the end of the day, students were placed in groups according to common professional interests and discussed their ambitions in SD and what they hoped to gain from WSDS21. In the evening, we hosted a Pub Quiz on the avatar-based social platform Gather (winners: The SciDip Rockers!).

Read more about day 1.
Recordings of two panel discussions are now public!

DAY 2 – Historical case studies of SD

On Day 2, InsSciDE researchers presented the four historical cases of SD to be placed at the heart of WSDS (part of the 24 case studies that underscore the InsSciDE project).

The cases – on topics of nuclear energy research, space diplomacy, archaeological research and vaccine diplomacy – spurred first discussions on the constellation of actors, interests and obstacles involved in implicit or explicit SD.

In the afternoon, members of the EU Science Diplomacy Alliance and the new Norway-EU Science Diplomacy Network discussed different avenues through which we can pursue SD or develop related resources, such as multi-stakeholder fora, university partnerships, education initiatives, or networks like the ones they represented.

Read more about day 2
The case study presentations are now public!

DAY 3 – Tensions and Interests; Risk, Safety and Security

The day started with framing SD as a strategic instrumentalization of science for foreign policy purposes. The presentation highlighted SD as a powerful tool of statecraft and the power dynamics that underlie research funding and scientific progress, setting the stage for a broader theme of risk, safety and security in the afternoon.

Teams regrouped to examine their case studies through this narrower foreign policy lens and zoomed in on the tensions and interests that underlie the actions observed in their cases.

The afternoon afforded students exclusive insights from the frontlines of political decision-making and negotiations in two ‘off-the-record’ sessions with high-level scientists and science diplomats.

Read more about day 3.
The lecture on SD Power, Actors and Interests is now public!

DAY 4 – Strategy and deliverable presentations

The fourth and most intensive day consisted largely of small-group discussions and interdisciplinary teamwork, culminating in plenary presentations by each of the student teams on a deliverable of hypothetical SD strategic advice.

A morning lecture introduced fundamentals of strategy as well as the major impacts/applications of history on the present – such as a source of knowledge or as motivation to mobilize. The students learned about six EU foreign policy objectives where SD might be a component of the EU’s strategic approach and were tasked with consolidating advise on pursuing 1-2 of the objectives in a context related to their case studies. After group ‘coaching’, further discussion with their case study authors, and independent team work, the four teams presented their advice – relating to ITER, space, archaeology, and health – and received feedback from subject matter experts.

Read more about day 3.
The lecture on SD Power, Actors and Interests is now public!

Day 5 – Evaluations and Graduation

Before the graduation ceremony commenced, the students were once again placed in their ‘disciplinary groups’ from the first day, this time tasked with reflecting on WSDS21 from the rear-view mirror, as well as in view of leveraging the experience in the future. When groups returned to plenary, their feedback conveyed the training had illuminated unknown aspects of SD and sometimes changed perspectives on students’ own professional contexts. Cohort diversity emerged as one of the most valuable elements of the training and there was a great determination to pursue further collaboration within the WSDS network.

Fortunately for the students eager to strengthen their newfound connections, several WSDS follow-up initiatives are already underway such as an in-person reunion in Warsaw next spring and a series of bonus sessions called “SD Ally Talks” where alumni will have the opportunity to exchange directly in a casual and closed setting with a variety of interesting SD community members, including arctic scientists, program specialists at TWAS and UNESCO, astrophysicists, professors of science diplomacy, WSDS20 alumni and more.

We are extremely grateful to the professionals who have volunteered their time to the follow-up SD Ally Talks, as well as to every one of the excellent lecturers, panelists, and supporters who helped make WSDS an inspiring, intense, diverse and mind-opening experience!

Recordings & Overview: Warsaw Science Diplomacy School 2021