The Foreign Service Journal - September 2016
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G LOBE, the Global Learning and Obser- vations to Benefit the Environment Program, is

an international science

and education program

sponsored by the National

Aeronautics and Space

Administration and the

National Science Founda-

tion and supported by the

National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Administration and the Department

of State.

Announced on Earth Day 1994,

the program was launched inter-

nationally one year later. This year,

GLOBE was expanded beyond a

formal school setting to include indi-

viduals of all ages.

GLOBE defines its vision and mis-

sion thus: “A worldwide community

of students, teachers, scientists and

citizens working together to better

understand, sustain and improve

Earth’s environment at local, regional

and global scales.”

Participants in this citizen science

program are encouraged to engage

in local investigations that cover five

core fields: atmosphere, biosphere,

hydrosphere, soil (pedosphere) and


The program is implemented

through government-to-government

agreements, with each country

partner responsible for in-country


Observations made locally are

submitted to the GLOBE data and

information system, and can be

accessed freely online. These mea-

surements are combined with read-

ings at automated stations to create

a worldwide resource for conducting

scientific inquiry.

The GLOBE data and information

system has grown to more than 130

million measurements from some

10 million students in 113 countries

around the world.

GLOBE is one of the many pro-

grams included in CitizenScience.

gov, an official government portal

launched by the General Services

Administration in April to accelerate

the use of crowdsourcing and citizen

science across the U.S. government.

GSA developed the site in col-

laboration with theWoodrowWilson

International Center for Scholars in

response to a memo from theWhite House Office of Science and Technol- ogy Policy urging federal agencies to

establish citizen science and crowd-

sourcing projects that contribute

directly to their missions.

Several other USAID and State

Department projects are included in

the portal.

—Susan B. Maitra,

Managing Editor


authors state. And it should be under

civilian control. The perfect agency for

the job? USAID.

As presently defined, however, USAID’s

development mission is too broad and

undefined to be effective, and because it

is “stretched too thin” it fails to provide

adequate resources to high-risk places.

“Instead of trying to promote develop-

ment for its own sake in every poor coun-

try in the world, USAID should limit its

efforts to enhancing core state functions

in strategically important countries,” the

authors argue.

Currently, USAID would typically

spend only $2.3 billion of a proposed

FY2017 budget of $22.7 billion on activi-

ties that may fall under such a “nation-

building” umbrella.

Yet gains in USAID’s current core

activities (e.g., poverty alleviation, global

health, biodiversity, women’s empower-

ment, education, sanitation, and eco-

nomic and agricultural development) are

generally temporary and need constant

maintenance to avoid backsliding.

Better to leave that work, Boot and

Miklaucic say, to international and

nongovernmental organizations that do

those things equally well.

They also urge a focus on governance

rather than democracy promotion, argu-

ing that the United States can coexist

and even work with undemocratic states

much better than ungoverned states.

Such a transformation of the agency

would exclude more than half of the coun-

tries where USAID currently operates, the

authors acknowledge.

With an evolving understanding of the

security-development nexus, they say, a

transformed USAID could help the U.S.

avoid continuous military interventions

while contributing to the stabilization of

failing states.

—Shannon Mizzi, Editorial Assistant