Institute's Colloquium 2022–23

Science Diplomacy and Science in Times of War

Source: Lucas Kapla on Unsplash, 2022.

Organizer: Dora Vargha 

Shortly after the end of the Second World War, in an address on "Science in War and Peace," Nobel laureate Henry Dale argued that there has to be an essential difference in the role of science in wartime and in peaceful times. Science’s concern with war is “abnormal” and should return as soon as possible, when hostilities cease, to “the service of peace.” However, science in peaceful time should also be “resolute and watchful against any encroachment, on activities proper to peace, of a secrecy which we accepted as an abnormal condition in war, and with a determined effort to accelerate the liberation of science from its entanglements.”

In recent months and years, a series of major armed conflicts across the globe and the succession of several pandemics have given rise to a series of disturbing questions about the interplay between science and politics in a global context.

The Institute’s Colloquium series of 2022/23 is dedicated to the rethinking of science and scientific knowledge in times of peace and in times of crises and war. Within this framework, the colloquium series will interrogate the history and concepts of "science diplomacy," its applicability across time and space; limits and opportunities of scientific cooperation across borders, cultural and national contexts, fluctuating between peace and war; legitimation of using science and scientists as means of sanctions and geopolitical tools; and if we should differentiate between politically and diplomatically usable science and politically/diplomatically irrelevant science, reminiscent of Dale’s distinction between peaceful "normal science" and "abnormal" war science?


Were We Ever at Peace? The Irreversible Entanglement of Science, Politics, and Regimes of Knowledge Control Main Conference Room & Online

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Pugwash Scientists: Between Science and Diplomacy in the Cold War Main Conference Room & Online

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Between Convertibility and Perversion: Aviation, Atomic Energy, and the Discourses of Technological Internationalism Main Conference Room & Online

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Artifacts, Actions, Knowledge and Irregular Warfare in Latin America Main Conference Room & Online

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Debating “Scientific Warfare” in Republican China Main Conference Room & Online


Canceled: Atomic Junction: Nuclear Power in Africa at the Crossroads Main Conference Room & Online


Forensic Diplomacy and International Technical Cooperation: The Case of Mexico’s Extraordinary Mechanism for Forensic Identification Main Conference Room & Online



The colloquia will be organized to include one lecture (approx. 30 minutes), followed by a substantive comment (10 minutes), short conversation between guest speaker and commentator, and Q&A OR one conventional lecture, followed by Q&A. We plan to hold the colloquia in person in the conference room and to transmit via Zoom for remote participants.



The MPIWG Institute’s Colloquium 2022–23 is open to all. Academics, students, and members of the public are all welcome to attend, listen, and participate in the discussion. Registration details are listed on the individual event pages.