14 February 2019 - 17 February 2019
Washington, D.C.

IIASA bridges boundaries at the AAAS Annual Meeting

IIASA Director General Albert van Jaarsveld will lead a delegation from IIASA to participate at the annual conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society.

© Appalachianviews | Dreamstime

© Appalachianviews | Dreamstime

How can science working across boundaries improve its ability to find solutions to the pressing problems of our age? The AAAS 2019 conference theme will focus on how science can bring together people, ideas, and solutions from across real and artificial borders, disciplines, sectors, ideologies, and traditions.

IIASA is uniquely placed to provide extensive expertise on these topics as they are fundamental to the institute’s systemic multidisplinary approach and promotion of scientific cooperation at local, regional, and global levels.

IIASA is organizing two conference sessions on science diplomacy, cross‐disciplinary science, and a career workshop exploring the gender dimension in science advice, that will bring together world leading researchers, educators, and policymakers to explore how science can bridge divisions to enable sustainable development in a rapidly changing world.

Sustainable Development: Implementing Systemic Dimensions

Saturday 16 February 13:30 -15:00, Marriott – Room 2 

Understanding cross‐disciplinary science will be critically important for those responsible for formulating policies and strategies to achieve sustainable development. There is a need for an integrative systems approach to develop transformational pathways showing how the multiple objectives of economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion can be met within safe planetary boundaries. This IIASA organized session will discuss how the scientific community can team up in innovative partnerships with other stakeholders, bringing together leaders from the science, policy, business, and funding arenas with the aim of exploring the systemic dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals and revitalizing global partnerships.  


  • ‘Keeping Track of Progress on Sustainable Development’, Guido Schmidt-Traub, Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Paris, France Presentation (PDF)
  • ‘The World in 2050: Transformative Pathways Towards Sustainability’, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, IIASA Acting Deputy Director General Presentation (PDF)
  • ‘The Policy Challenge: Incorporating Systemic Thinking Regarding the SDGs into Public Policy’, Sir Peter Gluckman, International Network for Government Science Advice; Centre for Science in Policy, Diplomacy and Society, University of Auckland, and IIASA Distinguished Visiting Fellow. Presentation (PDF)
  • Naoko Ishii, CEO of the Global Environment Facility (GEF)

Organizer: Jan Marco Müller, Head of Directorate Office IIASA.

Moderator: Heide Hackmann, CEO of the International Science Council and IIASA Distinguished Visiting Fellow.

Applied Systems Analysis: Bridging East and West

Saturday 16 February 15:30 - 17:00, Marriott – Room 2            

IIASA was founded in 1972 and brought together scientists from the Western and Eastern blocs to work on challenges that are too complex to be solved by any single nation or scientific discipline. After the end of the Cold War, IIASA’s remit was broadened to include the North and South dimension, with now 23 member countries across the globe, playing an increasingly important role in the international discourse about sustainable development and the related goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015. With tensions between East and West rising in contemporary geopolitics, this IIASA organized session will reflect on the journey the institute has made since its establishment and consider how facilitating scientific study can aid international organizations in easing relations between China, Russia, and the United States .


  • 'IIASA: The Singular Network', Margaret Goud Collins, WHOI Marine Policy Center, Woods Hole, MA
  • ‘IIASA: The Russian Perspective’,  Yuri S. Ledyaev, Western Michigan University and IIASA Young Summer Scientist Program Alumnus
  • ‘IIASA: The American Perspective’ E. William Colglazier, AAAS, Washington, D.C.

Organizer: Jan Marco Müller

Moderator: Albert van Jaarsveld 

The Gender Dimension of Science Advice

Sunday 17 February 13:30 - 15:00 

Science advice to government is a rapidly evolving field, as can be demonstrated by the establishment of the International Network for Government Science Advice and the development of a community of practitioners across all continents. However, the number of female science advisors worldwide is still limited, as is the number of female heads of government. This IIASA organized workshop will explore the point of view of four different continents: Africa, Asia America, and Europe on why and how the gender dimension matters in providing science advice to government, both on the side of those advising and those receiving the advice. Likewise, the session will discuss how to encourage more women to engage with scientific advice. 


  • Mona Nemer, Chief Science Advisor of Canada
  • Miyoko Watanabe, Deputy Executive Director, Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)
  • Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Secretary General for Natural Sciences, UNESCO 

Organizer: Jan Marco Müller

ModeratorJan Marco Müller

Discussant: LaShauna Evans, United States Department of State, Washington, DC

This year’s theme: Science Transcending Boundaries

AAAS, the world's largest general scientific society, aims to promote cooperation among scientists, defend scientific freedom, encourage scientific responsibility, and support science outreach for the betterment of all humanity. The theme this year focuses on how science can help address the many divisions in our communities, in global society, and in science itself. Science plays a unique and important role in how people see and understand the world, and how lines and distinctions are drawn. This Annual Meeting looks at how science working across boundaries can improve its ability to find solutions to the pressing problems of our age? How can scientists, wherever they work, more effectively engage with the broader society? How can we find better ways to engage the public, especially in expanding access to science and scientific careers? At the international level, science diplomacy builds bridges between countries. How can we encourage more of this, and utilize science as a common ground more locally as well? While acknowledging that some boundaries are useful and necessary, the meeting theme considers how research can be applied to problematic separations in the world, and how unhelpful boundaries within science are being addressed.

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Last edited: 19 February 2019


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