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Science Diplomacy Policy Processes in Comparative Perspective: The Use of Scientific Cooperation Agreements in Canada, India, Norway, and the UK


There is growing attention to science diplomacy among scholars, policymakers, and scientific associations around the world. However, there continues to be contestation around the concept of science diplomacy, currently framed alternately as a new understanding of diplomacy, part of the global challenges discourse, central to the internationalization of science, and typifying competitive innovation. This contestation is furthered by the involvement of a broad array of policy instruments and actors in science diplomacy. In response, this paper focuses on a single policy instrument, examining eight bilateral and multilateral scientific cooperation agreements led by Canada, India, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Kingdon’s multiple streams framework is employed to explain how the interplay between policy actors, the policy agenda, policy problems, and policy alternatives leads to the creation of science diplomacy policies. Across the cases, all of the current science diplomacy discourses were applicable, holding stronger explanatory power in the problem and policy streams of the policy process while not obviously matching processes seen in the political stream. The findings also identified a gap in the current framing in understanding how geopolitical dynamics impact the creation of science diplomacy policies and how different policy actors negotiate, exploit, or are subject to these forces. By stabilizing one element of the ongoing debates around science diplomacy, the paper contributes a deeper examination of the array of policy actors and their involvement in different stages of the policy process leading to the formation of scientific cooperation agreements as tools of science diplomacy.

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    An informal consortium named after its members, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and first coined as BRIC without South Africa by a Goldman Sachs economist in 2001.


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This research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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Correspondence to Emma Sabzalieva.

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Sabzalieva, E., Sá, C.M., Martinez, M. et al. Science Diplomacy Policy Processes in Comparative Perspective: The Use of Scientific Cooperation Agreements in Canada, India, Norway, and the UK. Minerva 59, 149–172 (2021).

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  • Science diplomacy
  • scientific collaboration
  • scientific cooperation agreements
  • Canada
  • India
  • Norway
  • United Kingdom