Global Science Corps

The Global Science Corps (GSC) was an unrealized program, intended to sponsor preeminent scientists and engineers to visit universities and research institutes in developing countries for periods of up to a year so that they could share expertise and collaborate with local academics. GSC Fellows would enrich their host institutions' research capacity, build robust international collaborations, and benefit from unique and valuable research experiences abroad.

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 multinational 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 ongoing 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 the GSC was never fully implemented, in 2008–10 SIG ran a pilot in Cameroon. The links on the right of this page provide background material for organizations interested in pursuing similar initiatives.