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Science Diplomacy: Results From a Three-Year Pilot

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Governance, Diplomacy, and International Comparisons in Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

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Daniel B. Oerther Missouri University of Science and Technology Orcid 16x16

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Professor Daniel B. Oerther, PhD, PE joined the faculty of the Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2010 as the John A. and Susan Mathes Chair of Civil Engineering after serving ten years on the faculty of the University of Cincinnati where he was Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Oerther earned his Ph.D. (2002) from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dan’s professional registrations include: PE, BCEE, BCES, CEng, CEnv, CEHS, and DAAS. Oerther's scholarship, teaching, service, and professional practice focus in the fields of environmental biotechnology and sustainable development where he specializes in promoting Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH), food and nutrition security, energy efficiency, and poverty alleviation. Oerther's awards for teaching include the best paper award from the Environmental Engineering Division of ASEE and the society-wide Robert G. Quinn Award from ASEE, the Engineering Education Excellence Award from the NSPE, the Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science Educator award from AAEES, and the Fair Distinguished Engineering Educator Medal from WEF. Due to his collaborations with nurses and healthcare professionals, Professor Oerther has been inducted as a Lifetime Honorary Member of Sigma Theta Tau, the International Honor Society of Nursing (STTI), and he has been inducted as a Lifetime Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN) and the Academy of Nursing Education Fellows (ANEF). Oerther has also been elevated as a Fellow of the Society of Environmental Engineers (FSEE), the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), the Royal Society for Public Health (FRSPH), the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (FCIEH), the Society of Operations Engineers (FSOE), and the Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (FAEESP).

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An entirely novel course was developed to teach science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) diplomacy to engineering students. The course uses blended delivery, a flipped format, and modified mastery learning with a buffet approach to assign final grades. The course has been piloted for three semesters to a total of 35 dual-level (seniors and first year graduate) students pursuing a baccalaureate degree in environmental or civil engineering or a graduate degree in environmental or civil engineering. The course introduces the three pillars of “science diplomacy” as described in the New Frontiers in Science Diplomacy report published in 2010 by the Royal Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, including: 1) science-in-diplomacy; 2) diplomacy-for-science; and 3) science-for-diplomacy. During the semester, students conduct policy analyses of case studies including: 1) the Lower Mekong River Initiative of the United States; 2) the Antarctic Treaty as described by the Royal Geographical Society; 3) the Make the Planet Great Again campaign of France; and 4) HIV/AIDS treatment in South Africa as described by Harvard Law School. Each policy analysis follows Bardach’s eightfold path, including: 1) problem definition; 2) collecting evidence; 3) brainstorming alternatives; 4) identifying criteria; 5) future-casting outcomes; 6) considering trade-offs; 7) committing to a decision; and 8) telling a story to secure support and buy-in. Two unique aspects of this course include the performance of a model United Nations debate, and the completion of a personal application for a fellowship in policy or diplomacy. The purpose of this article is to share: 1) the course content and format; 2) an analysis of the results of student evaluations from three complete offerings of the pilot course; and 3) personal experience gained by the instructor teaching policy (in this case, science diplomacy) to engineers.

Oerther, D. B. (2021, July), Science Diplomacy: Results From a Three-Year Pilot Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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