The Quarterly Online Meeting with the ISC President - January 25, 2023

Comments by D. Armbruster and M.J. Esteban on the quarterly online meeting with the ISC president - 25 janvier 2023

The International Science Council (ISC) is currently going through an intense transformation, trying to define better what the organization is and what it wants to be in the future. In this direction, the ISC Board is having long discussions about strategic priorities. 

The ISC wants to engage with the multilateral system: it has started meetings with the UN secretary’s office, with UN agencies, with UNESCO and with the World Bank. After those conversations, the global system is better understood, which allows for a better view of how the ISC could work and contribute as the global voice of science. The ISC will soon sign MOUs with UN organizations on specific topics, and has just signed a MOU with the World Health Organization (WHO). The collaboration with the WHO started thanks to the excellent report prepared by ISC about COVID; that report was highly appreciated by the WHO. 

Some of the topics of interest and goals for the ISC and the scientific community at large:

- How to enhance trust in scientific knowledge

- Boost the involvement of ISC in the evolution of the science system.  A new science policy committee has been set up (Dieter Armbruster sits on this committee following a nomination by ICIAM). This will allow ISC to develop new insights about how to evolve, what to modify in current practices, etc.  The goals are more efficiency and better visibility. 

- Reflection about where and how to be active in the area of science education. At the global scale this is a difficult topic but maybe there is room for some action concerning teachers’ education. There is ongoing exploration of the possibilities in this direction. 

Some current actions of ISC:

- Increase the ISC Fellowship:  after the recent nominations there are 120 ISC fellows (M.J. Esteban was elected ISC fellow following the nomination by ICIAM). A fellowship council has been created and is invited to Board meetings. An ISC Officer is involved in looking for ways to involve the fellows in important activities within ISC or in collaboration with other partners.

- Help in creating an academy of the Pacific Islands.

- The ISC has recently issued a statement about women excluded from university in Afghanistan. A dialogue has been proposed to the Afghan authorities about women's education. But it is not easy to get concrete results from those conversations. What can be done? Maybe somebody should be appointed in science diplomacy.  

- The ISC is involved in the promotion of science and technology for sustainability. This is an important topic in the discussions with the UN. 

-  The 2023 Mid-term Meeting of ISC Members will take place in Paris in May.

- The ISC is thinking about launching an online platform to facilitate discussions and collaboration between ISC members. Maybe the DISCORD tool could be used for this purpose. This issue will be discussed in Paris in May. 

- A number of young academies have already accepted the invitation to join the ISC, and a current ballot is going on to increase their number. Being able to hear the younger voice in commissions, discussions, etc, is very important for the ISC. 

Some recent publications:

- Unleashing Science: Delivering Missions for Sustainability

- Conference on the Ukraine Crisis: Responses from the European higher education and research sectors:   

Finally we listened to a brief presentation about the recent ISC Global Knowledge Dialogue which took place in South Africa. Many African organizations participated, discussed and spoke about future actions. A new Knowledge Dialogue meeting will take place in Latin America / Caribbean later in the year.

At the end of the meeting a Q&A session was opened. ISC members present in the meeting were able to comment and ask questions about the actions organized by the ISC and about its plans for the future. 


Dieter Armbruster and Maria J. Esteban

Dieter Armbruster is Emeritus professor at Arizona State University and Member of the ISC Standing Committee for Science Planning 2022-2025; Maria J. Esteban is Emerita senior researcher at C.N.R.S, and past-president of ICIAM.