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AAAS Event – The Role of Science Diplomacy in International Crises: Syria as a Case Study

June 1, 2016 @ 8:00 am - 6:30 pm

The Role of Science Diplomacy in International Crises: Syria as a Case Study

The ongoing Syrian Refugee Crisis is recognized as one of the worst humanitarian disasters since World War II. Although the Crisis has not typically been framed in the context of science and technology (S&T), it encompasses many complex issues with scientific components, including the exacerbating effects of climate change, public health issues, cultural heritage destruction, human migration, and scientific diasporas. The objective of this symposium is to explore how science diplomacy can contribute to international crisis response and recovery by mitigating the factors that result in the fueling of conflict, the displacement of people, and the resulting challenges. Using the Syrian Crisis as a case study, we will discuss how S&T and science diplomacy can inform responses to future international security, environmental, and humanitarian crises. Through sessions focused on synthesizing the S&T-related contributing factors and consequences of the Syrian Crisis, we will identify how to apply lessons learned from Syria to help prevent or mitigate future international crises, and we will explore the pathways by which scientists can engage in crisis response and recovery.

Draft Agenda (Updated Tuesday, February 23)

8:00 – 8:30am – Check-In Opens (Breakfast Available)

8:30 – 8:40am – Introduction

8:40 – 9:20am – Science Diplomacy in Syria: Lessons Learned from Recent History – Andrew Weber, Metabiota

9:20 – 10:50am – Session 1: Exacerbating Effects of Climate Change in Conflict Zones
– Keynote: Water Diplomacy: Linking Water, Drought, Climate Change, and Conflict – Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute
​​- Water Stress in Syria – Francesco Femia, The Center for Climate and Security
– Water and Sanitation Issues

10:50 – 11:05am – Break

11:05am – 12:35pm – Session 2: S&T to Combat Cultural Heritage Destruction in Conflict Zones
– Keynote: S&T to Combat the Trafficking of Cultural Property in Conflict Zones
– The application of geospatial technologies to humanitarian crises – Susan Wolfinbarger, AAAS Geospatial Technologies Project
– The sociological/psychological effects of cultural heritage loss – Darren McGregor, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Office of Adult Services and Special Needs Populations

12:35 – 1:25pm – Lunch Provided

1:25 – 3:25pm – Session 3: Science Diplomacy and Refugee Crises
– Keynote: The Syrian Refugee Crisis – Mary Giovagnoli, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
– Addressing water, sanitation, and health issues in Syrian refugee camps
– The public health dimensions of the Syrian refugee crisis – Leonard Rubenstein, Johns Hopkins University
– Capacity-building for refugee mental health services in Syria – Andres Barkil-Oteo, Yale University

3:25 – 3:40pm -Break

3:40 – 4:30pm -Interactive Activity

4:30 – 5:10pm -Synthesis Plenary
– Vaughan Turekian, Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary of State

5:10 – 5:20pm – Closing Remarks

5:20 – 7:00pm – Reception


June 1, 2016
8:00 am - 6:30 pm
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AAAS Auditorium
Washigton, DC United States + Google Map