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Science Attaché Networks: Modes of Operation, Impacts and Return on Investment (EPSRC funded)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr JC Mauduit
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

UCL STEaPP is looking for PhD applications (including a 2-page proposal) on the topic of ‘Science Attaché Networks: Modes of Operation, Impacts and Return on Investment’.

Science, technology and innovation (STI) issues are increasingly recognised as underpinning some of the major global challenges the world is facing and also have significant repercussions on economic growth. As part of their science diplomacy strategy, many countries are therefore starting to respond to this increasing demand by expanding, revamping or creating their network of science attaches (‘science’ referring here to the larger spectrum of STI) to stay abreast of the latest technological developments, enhance their policymaking and leverage collaborative opportunities.

Yet, crucial questions remain unanswered, for high income countries (e.g. the U.K. further developing its network in the EU) and low/middle income countries alike (e.g. Costa Rica in the process of creating its first science attaché position): what is the impact of a science attaché network and how effective is it? In other words, what is the expected return of investment and what are the best key performance indicators (KPI) to measure its impact and success? In addition, as traditional diplomatic/economic relations are being shifted away from the realm of the nation-state to actors such as large tech giants and innovation hubs, the conventional model of embedding a science attaché in an Embassy/Consulate is being reconsidered, both in terms of funding and effectiveness, and new innovative solutions are being designed (embedding an attaché within a university, creating a Consulate dedicated to STI with public-private partnerships, etc.): how are countries adapting to this evolving context? These questions and considerations are relevant to all countries, yet there is little to no systematic academic research that has been carried out in this realm, even though it could have major repercussions on knowledge systems at the international level.

As one of the largest networks, the U.K. Science Innovation Network (SIN) would be an interesting case study, and this academic research could have practical implications on the STI-driven foreign policy agenda of the U.K. (and of other countries STI policy/diplomacy), particularly in the context of Brexit. This work will require a deep dive into science attaché networks worldwide from both a theoretical and practical perspective and can only be achieved through methodical research involving interview-based research, comparative analyses of countries’ science attaché networks, developing KPIs, retracing pathways to impact through monitoring & evaluation, as well as understanding various financing mechanisms and adaptive governance models.
This research plan will need to be further refined and could be co-designed with partners from the U.K. SIN (FCO, BEIS) or other Ministries of Foreign Affairs and international organizations, depending on needs and practical research implications.

Funding Notes

Full EPSRC studentship available, covering fees plus a topped-up stipend of £23,186 per annum (2020/21 figure).

To apply for EPSRC funding:
- you must have settled status in the UK and have been ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the Studentship.

Find out more about the PhD and funding:

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