Tuesday, December 26, 2006

"Science in an International and Humanitarian Context"

Read the full article by Lynn Dicks on the AAAS Science Careers website (22 December 2006).

I quote extensively from the article:
Natarajan Ishwaran, director of the UNESCO Ecology and Earth Sciences division, says that the first UNESCO director-general, the distinguished zoologist Julian Huxley, fought hard to put science on UNESCO's agenda. Today, UNESCO spends one-seventh of its $610 million budget on science and employs about 200 scientists. About half of them are based at the Paris headquarters; the rest work in one of five regional and 51 field offices around the world. The job of these scientists is to co-ordinate international efforts between researchers and the public, the media, and international governments. "We are brokers," says Ishwaran, "between science and everything else."

UNESCO is keen to recruit young scientists, and those hoping to swap research for a career in intergovernmental work will find some opportunities there--provided they are not looking for too much job security.

UNESCO offers different entry points (see box) to people who are already involved in international research and can contribute their own ideas and contacts. Because these jobs are truly international, one of the most important credentials is the ability to speak several of the six United Nations languages. With 200 to 500 applicants for every job, competition is comparable to what it is for good faculty science jobs--which isn't surprising considering the tax-free pay, 30 days of annual leave, expenses to travel home, and for dependent children extra pay and educational grants all the way through university. The nature of the work is attractive too. "Intergovernmental work is seductive to young scientists," says Patricio Bernal, an assistant director-general at UNESCO, because it has the potential to change things for the better, on a global scale.
A climate scientist at UNESCO
Albert Fischer, a Swiss-American oceanographer who speaks French and English and is learning Spanish, has been working for 2 years at the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) in Paris, where he co-ordinates a group of academic scientists charged with deploying a global ocean-observation system to help predict the climate. Fischer recently presented work to a meeting of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. "It was very exciting," says Fischer. "I was out of my realm. Here in Paris, I work alongside other oceanographers. There, I was presenting to ministers of state."
Young scientists from the United States should contact the State Department's UNESCO office for help in getting a job with UNESCO. Let us know at Americans for UNESCO if we can help!

No comments: