New uOttawa-France science diplomacy research chair to tackle global health and security

Research and Innovation
Research and innovation
Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
Public Policy Research and Outreach
Research centres and institutes

By University of Ottawa

Office of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, OVPRI

Professor Patrick Fafard, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa, and Professor Pascal Griset, Sorbonne University in Paris.
Photo credit: University of Ottawa (left), University of Luxembourg (right).
With the establishment of a groundbreaking research chair in science diplomacy, professors Patrick Fafard from the University of Ottawa and Pascal Griset from Sorbonne University in Paris will explore how scientific collaboration can transcend national borders and foster advances in global health and security.

Created in partnership with the Embassy of France in Canada, this research chair signals a renewed commitment to scientific collaboration between the two nations. The chair’s primary goal is to deepen our understanding of the contemporary challenges and opportunities in the realm of science diplomacy.

“One of the chair’s objectives will be to build bridges between our two cultures and blaze new trails for dialogue that can lead to new partnerships or even solutions to major global crises,” says Sylvain Charbonneau, vice-president, research and innovation at the University of Ottawa.

“The work of this new research chair should fuel a Franco-Canadian dialogue in favour of global governance that values scientific truth and the common good,” adds Jean-François Doulet, science and higher education attaché at the French Embassy in Canada.

Meet the experts

As a specialist in public health policy and governance, Professor Patrick Fafard brings a wealth of interdisciplinary expertise to the table. His extensive experience includes an earlier career in government and a long-running research program evaluating existing public health governance structures and identifying opportunities for improvement. Today, Fafard works with colleagues in the Global Strategy Lab to address the urgent need for global governance strategies to combat antimicrobial resistance.

Professor Pascal Griset, a distinguished historian with a keen interest in the history of technology and telecommunications, is a leading authority on science diplomacy. His research spans Europe and he is co-director of the International School of Science Diplomacy. Griset’s interdisciplinary approach has led to fruitful collaborations with experts in various fields, enriching the study of science diplomacy.

The study of this discipline poses unique challenges; it demands a multidisciplinary approach and close collaboration with government officials and practitioners worldwide. Professors Fafard and Griset are well-equipped to tackle these challenges head on.

“Some governments are seeking to formalize science diplomacy but we know little about whether, why and how it is effective,” says Fafard. “I look forward to collaborating with Professor Griset and with colleagues in both Canada and France and beyond to deepen our collective understanding of science diplomacy.”

Addressing modern challenges

The researchers will delve into two compelling case studies to gain insight into the practice of science diplomacy.

First, they will explore how international scientific collaboration can transcend geopolitical boundaries and strengthen national and global security. In an era of heightened conflict and disruption within the established international order, the researchers will examine the feasibility of reconciling the universal ideals of science with the necessary requirements of national security.

Second, they will focus on the urgent global challenge of antimicrobial resistance. The overuse of antimicrobials in health care, agriculture and the environment has led to the development of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens, rendering many of our existing therapies ineffective. Annual deaths from resistant infections are increasing, as are the economic and societal consequences of drug resistance.

The research of Professor Fafard and others highlights the indispensable role of scientific collaboration in addressing this crisis, and underscores the need for a unified global response that draws on expertise from multiple scientific disciplines.

Both case studies underscore the broader contemporary dilemmas in which the universal aspirations of science intersect with the imperatives of national interests, highlighting the delicate balance between global cooperation and individual nation-state priorities.