America and the International Future of Science


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Challenges for International Scientific Partnerships

1.The United States should expand and support international scientific collaborations, including with nations with which the United States has strained relations, such as China. Any restrictions on international collaborations involving federally supported research should be well-justified and carefully and narrowly defined.

U.S. participation in international scientific partnerships goes hand-in-hand with building a strong, diverse, and inclusive domestic STEM enterprise, including development of domestic talent from women and minority groups. Access to international sources of talent is not a substitute for developing a domestic base of researchers that includes underrepresented groups.

International scientific engagement advances economic prosperity, improves individual health and well-being, and maintains national security. It allows U.S. scientists to work toward solving global challenges, provides U.S. scientists with access to key collaborators wherever they reside, introduces talented international students and postdoctoral researchers to the U.S. R&D enterprise, pools funding resources transnationally, advances U.S. diplomatic interests, and gives American scientists a key role at international decision-making tables regarding ethical norms and best practices. Although international collaboration provides unique challenges that require careful consideration to address and overcome, the benefits of doing so often far outweigh the costs.

2.The United States should be prepared to participate in international large-scale science partnerships and ensure their success, including contributing support for operations outside the United States.

Looking to the future, there are several large-scale scientific endeavors that will necessarily involve international cooperation. Some of them will be sited outside of the United States. The case studies in this report dramatically illustrate the value of large-scale facilities for scientific advancement across disciplines. Funding for these facilities will become increasingly difficult for the United States to consider alone. A deeper study of considerations for large-scale facilities and best practices in approaching mega­science collaborations is presented in CISP’s second report, Bold Ambition: International Large-Scale Science.

3.Emerging science partners around the world are and will continue to be important scientific collaborators. The United States should support and join with them in scientific research.

As emphasized in this report, scientific talent is increasingly global, and many of the world’s most pressing questions are not defined within national boundaries. Scientific researchers in all countries, including emerging science partner countries investing in their S&T enterprises, are important collaborators for U.S. scientists. These partnerships can also make critical contributions to U.S. diplomacy. Further discussion of the important role of emerging science partners for the U.S. scientific community is presented in CISP’s third report, Global Connections: Emerging Science Partners.

International scientific partnerships, despite their associated challenges, are essential for the U.S. scientific enterprise today and in the future. Where collaborations are appropriate, the United States should work to build and support them at every level and at all stages.