Dr. Caroline Wagner joins School of International Affairs

A scholar of science, technology, and knowledge transfer, Dr. Caroline Wagner has joined the School of International Affairs. Her research focuses, in part, on why countries cooperate with one another and how technology develops.

“We are pleased to welcome a scholar with such rich policy experience to our faculty,” said Tiyanjana Maluwa, director of the School of International Affairs.

Dr. Wagner's policy career has tracked major breakthroughs in technology and world events, a perspective she will bring to the classroom each day as she teaches a class entitled “Knowledge, Technology, and Globalization” this fall.

“I've been privileged to have an exciting career working at the intersection of science, technology, and global policy,” she said. Dr. Wagner played a key role in shaping U.S. science and technology policy after the Cold War, advising the U.S. House of Representatives and then Bush and Clinton White Houses on science and technology matters. She helped negotiate several treaties on technology transfer and cooperation, including the U.S. – Japan Semiconductor Trade Agreement. She was working in the U.S. Embassy in South Korea when that country transitioned from a dictatorial government to a democracy. She served on the United Nations Millennium Development Commission on Science, Technology, and Innovation.

Intrigued by the challenges posed to policy and society by rapid change in science and technology, Dr. Wagner initially studied religion and philosophy at Trinity College. She then earned a master's degree in science, technology, and public policy from George Washington University and embarked on a career in government service that led to two overseas assignments and a seat close to many exciting policy decisions. A stint in Europe allowed her to earn a doctorate from the University of Amsterdam in the early 2000s. In 2008, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, Professor Wagner published the New Invisible College: Science for Development. At Penn State she will continue in her role as a senior fellow of the Global Knowledge Initiative in Washington, D.C., an interest group begun by Penn State Professor Nina Fedoroff.

“Many people feel that we are at a hinge in history, when one age ends and another begins,” Wagner said. “How do we conceptualize and understand the new age, without allowing it to overwhelm us? This is an exciting time to test new theories and approaches to understanding the global order.”

She currently researches complex systems theory as a model to understand scientific development and technology transfer. She plans to continue exploring complex systems theory to determine whether it would adequately frame the study of international relations, including the relationships between groups of people and the possibilities for outcomes of events in which many unrelated events mingle. She was drawn to School of International Affairs for its interdisciplinary approach to international affairs and the many opportunities for collaboration with other Penn State researchers.

“Penn State's approach to the study of international affairs is visionary. No other school is combining technology, law, governance, and justice questions. Yet, the future depends upon this convergence of just these factors. I am so excited to be a part of this groundbreaking endeavor, and I look forward to meeting the students committed to addressing global challenges.”