Science and Technology Policy Report Roundup

June 24th, 2008

Posted by: admin

A perfectly non-scientific sampling of reports on science and technology policy in the United States, some from organizations that may not be familiar to everyone.

The RAND Corporation – A long-standing science and technology research company, RAND started with national security issues and has branched out into many different areas. Until the early part of this decade, they ran the Science and Technology Policy Institute, and its predecessor, the Critical Technologies Institute, for the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

U.S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology – This monograph is a nice contrast to the occasionally overheated rhetoric about the impending collapse of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. It notes the continued strengths of American research and development, noting that our leadership should not be taken for granted. Another interesting note (at least to me) was the notion that globalization can work both ways. from the research summary at the link above:

Counterintuitively, globalization and the rise of science and technology capability in other nations may prove to be economically beneficial to the United States overall. A future with more technologies invented abroad can benefit the United States, since domestic use of new technology, whether invented in the United States or elsewhere, can result in greater efficiency, economic growth, and higher living standards.

Adapting and adopting new technology – whether developed in the United States or elsewhere – is a useful skill in maintaining a competitive edge. That’s an idea worth exploring and repeating.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences – Not to be confused with that other AAAS, this Academy is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is nearly 70 years older, and draws from all fields when selecting its members.

The ARISE Report – ARISE stands for Advancing Research in Science and Engineering. The report is from the Academy’s Initiative on Science, Engineering and Technology which is concerned about science literacy and the interactions of science, technology and society. The report’s recommendation focus on encouraging high-risk research and supporting young researchers. While the second one may seem a no-brainer, I appreciate the attention provided the first concern. As forward thinking as universities can be, they are still very conservative institutions (in the traditional sense, not the contemporary left-right sense). The same can be said of the scientific communities that provide reviewers for government proposals. I think this report could have been stronger in its recommendations to peer reviewers about being more responsive to high-risk or transformative research, as well as being more supportive of early career researchers.

Woodrow Wilson Center – Named for the president, the center hosts a number of different projects meant to encourage policy scholarship in a number of areas.

OSTP 2.0 – Critical Upgrade A report from earlier this month that urges that the Office of Science and Technology Policy be better utilized. The recommendations are mostly nothing new: appoint a national leader in science and engineering as the OSTP Director, make the appointment quickly, and make high quality appointments to PCAST and related advisory boards. The new recommendation is to establish a Federal-State Science and Technology Council to share information between the states and the federal government. Two of the report’s authors are former OSTP staffers.

Funding the Foundation: Basic Science at the Crossroads – A conference report from the center’s Science, Technology, America and the Global Economy project. The report is based on an address by Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, and a panel discussion of academic and industrial leaders in physical sciences. If you’ve followed the arguments before, during and after the release of Rising Above the Gathering Storm, the basic arguments here will be familiar to you.

One Response to “Science and Technology Policy Report Roundup”

  1. docpine Says:

    Not to be needlessly repetitive, but it seems that “the usual suspects” of science and technology policy do not really include agriculture,natural resource, nor environmental science.
    One of the few exceptions was a 18 April 2008 piece in Science Magazine in the Policy Forum (under the topic “ecology”)by Kiers et al.

    Perhaps that’s a subtext for why so much of the scientific establishment is focused on mitigation- the fields of science they tend to work with deal with either prediction or mitigation. The agricultural and natural resource folks are somewhere possibly below the radar screen, yet that is going to be where adaptation happens and where it is already happening.