25th International Summer Symposium on Science and World Affairs
July 21-28, 2013
The main goal of the annual International Summer Symposiums on Science and World Affairs is to encourage and support the development of young scientists working on policy-oriented research on international security and arms control issues.
Over the past thirty years, independent, technically-trained arms control and international security analysts have played an increasingly important role in policy debates. These experts have acted as watchdogs over government and industry practices and have provided the technical basis for new policy ideas.
The central purpose of the Summer Symposiums is to encourage the development of such analysts in countries where there is not a strong tradition of public interest science and to integrate them into the international community of researchers with similar interests and backgrounds.
The core philosophy driving the Symposiums is the idea that the security of individual nations is best attained by enhancing the security of all nations. Thus, the Symposiums seek to develop in the participants an international view of security that is informed by an understanding of the security concerns of individual countries. Participants are encouraged to approach security issues not just as citizens of their home country, but from an international perspective and to bear in mind that there is more than one side to every security question.
Since the first Symposium in 1989, subsequent meetings have been held in Russia, the United States, China, Germany, Ukraine, and Great Britain. Participants have included more than 450 scientists and researchers from Belarus, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, China, Egypt, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, and the United States. The main focus continues to be the development of independent expertise in Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and more recently, Iran.
The Symposiums aim to increase the number of technically-trained scholars working on security issues, and therefore attempts to identify and train researchers who are relatively new to the field. As a result, the Symposiums include participants with a range of expertise, so that the new participants can learn from the more established participants. Such "peer mentoring," which continues beyond the time of the Symposium itself, has proven very successful.
|Participants at the 8th Summer Symposium in Beijing, China, 1996.
The Symposiums consist of roughly 40 participants who take part in six days of meetings. Each participant is allotted 45 minutes to give a presentation on research they are doing or plan to conduct. In addition, there are tutorials and discussions on topics of general interest. Feedback on the presentations is intended to assist new participants with their plans for research projects, helping to ensure their projects are well-formulated, manageable in scope, and policy-relevant, and helping them to locate relevant information or experts. Since a key purpose of these meetings is to help develop analysts who know not only the technical issues, but who also understand the policy context and implications of these issues, participants are asked to focus their presentations not just on the technical issues that may make up the bulk of their research, but to discuss the policy context of their research as well.
The Symposiums are currently funded in part by a grant from the Carnegie Foundation, and are sponsored and organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The principal organizers are Lisbeth Gronlund (UCS and MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society) and David Wright (UCS and MIT Program in Science, Technology, and Society) .
If you are interested in learning more about the history of the symposiums, please see History of the Summer Symposiums. A sample schedule from a meeting is also available.
Participation in the International Summer Symposium on Science and World Affairs is by invitation only. If you would like more information about participating in the meeting, please see our application page. If you have any further questions, please contact Teri Grimwood at the Union of Concerned Scientists at tgrimwood [at] ucsusa.org.
To learn more about career opportunities, visit Career Resources. This includes a list of fellowships for technically-oriented arms control research, as well as organizations that work on technical aspects of arms control and security issues.
Past Symposium participants have access to the Summer Symposium Community, which provides information on upcoming events, information for contacting other members of the community, as well as other resources.