Diplomacy of the Academic Community: the Past and the Present

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2019-63-9-22-28

A. Torkunov (rectorat@inno.mgimo.ru),
Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO-University), The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, 76, Vernadskogo Prosp., Moscow, 119454, Russian Federation

Abstract. The article analyses the historical aspects and current features of academic diplomacy. The author emphasizes the scholars’ lack of ideological contamination, which allows them to treat the problems of society more objectively. Consistency of scholarly knowledge, the integrity of academia as a social system, and scholars’ high degree of accountability for their research achievements form the ground for the successful functioning of academic institutions of diplomacy. This gained an impetus after the world found itself standing at the brink of military actions involving weapons of mass destruction. One of the most effective institutions of academic diplomacy was the Pugwash Conference, when Soviet scientists, trapped behind the “Iron Curtain” and without contacts with colleagues abroad, convinced the government of the need to engage in a wide-ranging international dialogue to discuss the dangers that nuclear weapons pose to the world. Another effective form of academic diplomacy at that time was the Dartmouth Conference, an informal dialogue of Soviet and American intellectuals. Currently, academic diplomacy is experiencing an extensive upsurge – the list of issues and problems discussed is getting longer, the number of participants is growing, new formats and discussion platforms keep appearing. Academics now routinely participate in international conferences, get published in international journals, and not only scholars but also students are involved in academic mobility nowadays. The role of a university has also changed; it has become a discussion platform where scholars, politicians, representatives of business and civil society interact. Whereas previously academic diplomacy was accessible to and carried out by only a limited number of distinguished scholars, now it finds its ways onto various levels. Therefore, the issue of coordinating efforts at these levels is vital. Another urgent issue is the accountability of scholars for the results they achieve. Unreliable data has not only academic but also political significance these days. Like never before, the development of science and education and implementing emerging technologies is capable of critically influencing global processes. Scholars can make a lot of the things happening in the world today beneficial or, at least, reduce their possible negative consequences. It is academic diplomacy that can assist in achieving it. 

Keywords: academic diplomacy, Dartmouth meetings, Pugwash movement, educational exchanges, University diplomacy 


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For citation:
Torkunov A. Diplomacy of the Academic Community: the Past and the Present. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2019, vol. 63, no. 9, pp. 22-28. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2019-63-9-22-28

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