24th International Summer Symposium on Science and World Affairs

July 27, 2012
David Wright
Former contributor

For many years, UCS has organized the annual International Summer Symposiums on Science and World Affairs. The most recent, held in Princeton from July 6-13, was number 24. This year’s meeting was hosted by the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton.Each year we identify young scientists in countries around the world who are interested in security and arms control issues and help train them to do research on these issues. The goal is to create a new—and in many cases, a first—generation of scientists with expertise in arms control and security.The first meeting, held in Moscow in 1989, was the brainchild of physicists Frank von Hippel of the US and Roald Sagdeev of the Soviet Union, who wanted to help create a younger generation of Soviet scientists who understood these issues. Lisbeth Gronlund and I were both at that first meeting and one or both of us have been at all of the subsequent meetings. Our long-time colleague George Lewis, now at Cornell, was also at the first meeting and has been involved ever since.

A second goal of the Symposiums is to create an international community of these technical experts who know each other personally as well as professionally. This allows people to share ideas and information, and to collaborate on what are inherently international problems. Since the beginning, these meetings have included some 500 people from 35 countries.

We have also used these meetings to help young researchers make a career in this field. More than two dozen scientists from Russia, China, India, Pakistan, South Korea, and Iran have spent time as research fellows at UCS and several other institutions, including MIT, Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Maryland.

And over the years, many of the Symposium participants have gone on to work on these issues as professors, government officials, researchers at think tanks, etc., in institutions around the world.

The meetings are currently funded by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.