Global Science Corps

The Global Science Corps (GSC) was a program concept, never realized, intended to place senior scientists and engineers from scientifically advanced countries at universities and research institutes in developing countries, including RISE and MSI institutions, for up to a year, to share expertise and collaborate with local partners. It was meant to help the host institutions develop their S&T research capacity through interaction with and instruction from GSC Fellows; provide GSC Fellows with a unique and valuable research experience; and promote sustained collaborations after the fellowship period.

Formulas and recommendations for advancing science throughout the world will have little effect if they are not accompanied by missionary zeal — and by means to exercise such convictions. For that reason, I propose establishing an International Corps for Global Science to allow science missionaries, young and old, to help build a global culture of science by working in those parts of the world that are underserved by science now.

How would this work? Obviously it would require funds from public or private sectors. It would need some administrative structure, perhaps provided by the United Nations or by another existing or newly created multi-national group. It would need eager participants. They could range from newly-minted science graduates, looking for an experience akin to that offered by the U.S. Peace Corps, to more senior scientists, not unlike many of the speakers at this symposium, who would enjoy working on new problems in an unusual setting, with the prospect of contributing to a better world. Finally, it would be essential to link this new initiative with other on-going efforts to nurture science in the developing world. A zeal for science will not suffice. Our missionaries will need a reasonable context in which to work, one that includes trained nationals, appropriate equipment, and a friendly political environment.

—Harold Varmus (SIG Board Member 2003–2010); Nobel Foundation Centennial Speech, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, December 2001

While SIG was not able to attract the substantial funding that would have been required to implement the GSC, the background materials available through the links at right provide something of a blueprint for organizations interested in pursuing similar initiatives.