Science, Technology, & Innovation Strategy in the Obama Administration

At the start of a year-long dialogue between the United States and Europe, the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy hosted a summit yesterday on science, technology, innovation, and sustainable economic growth.  Opening the event was Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).  During his presentation, titled, “Science, Technology, & Innovation Strategy in the Obama Administration” Dr. Holdren outlined the challenges to advancing science, technology, and innovation cooperation across borders.  While admitting that much is still to be done, Dr. Holdren noted that it is President Obama’s view that science, technology, and innovation are not merely germane to our success, but central.

Other speakers at the event included Timothy E. Wirth of the United Nations Foundation, Phil Sharp of Resources for the Future, and Under Secretary for Science in the Department of Energy Steve Koonin.  More information can be found on OSTP’s blog here.

Posted by: PAGE Staff

Sources: Woodrow Wilson Center, Office of Science and Technology Policy

Photo credit: David Hawxhurst, Wilson Center

Watch Live: The U.S. – European Summit on Science, Technology, Innovation, and Sustainable Economic Growth

The Howard Baker Center for Public Policy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars are organizing the National Summit on Science, Technology, and Sustainable Economic Growth, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the European Commission. The purpose of the Summit is to examine the critical impacts of investments in science and technology on the economy. There is increasing national emphasis on the importance of both science and sustainable economic growth, with science underpinning the creation of new industries and “green jobs.” The Summit will explore the links between science and economic growth in a series of two meetings and four workshops over a 12-month period. It is important that policy makers, scientists and the broader public understand the implications how science and technology research impact both the structure and long-term growth of the economy.

The live webcast has now concluded.  Please check back for an archived recording of the event.

The U.S.-European Summit on Science, Technology, Innovation, and Sustainable Economic Growth

Announcing:

The U.S.-European Summit on Science, Technology, Innovation, and Sustainable Economic Growth

Event Details

Opening remarks by: Lee Hamilton, President and Director, Woodrow Wilson Center; Howard Baker, Founder and Director, Howard Baker Center for Public Policy; J.M Baer, Director, Science, Economy, and Society, European Commission.

Speakers also include: John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology; Steve Koonin, Undersecretary for Science, U.S. Department of Energy; and acting National Science Foundation Director Cora Marrett.

The Howard Baker Center for Public Policy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars are organizing the National Summit on Science, Technology, and Sustainable Economic Growth, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the European Commission. The purpose of the Summit is to examine the critical impacts of investments in science and technology on the economy. There is increasing national emphasis on the importance of both science and sustainable economic growth, with science underpinning the creation of new industries and “green jobs.” The Summit will explore the links between science and economic growth in a series of two meetings and four workshops over a 12-month period. It is important that policy makers, scientists and the broader public understand the implications how science and technology research impact both the structure and long-term growth of the economy.

Note: This event will be held in the 6th Floor Flom Auditorium and is invitation only. The event will be webcast from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm.

Click here to watch a live webcast of this event.

The State of STEM

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) recently released a much anticipated report about the future of STEM education entitled, “Prepare and Inspire: K-12 Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) for America’s Future.”  Commissioned by the administration last year, the report provides insight into the challenge of attracting students to science and technology fields, and details the persistent American achievement gap.

The report indicates that there are two underlying issues in American STEM education; the first being a lack of proficiency and the second being a lack of interest in the subject matter.  As it stands now, the United States currently sits in the middle of the pack or lower, the report states, with “less than one-third of U.S. eighth graders show[ing] proficiency in mathematics and science.”

The report contained a number of recommendations to help reverse this troubling trend.  Among them were creating new centers of learning focusing on standards and assessments, and encouraging the creation of a new generation of teachers focused on advancing innovation and increasing interest among students.  Eric Lander, co-chair of the report, spoke to an audience at the Brookings Institute prior to its release emphasizing that, in regards to students we “have to focus on inspiration, that everyone is inspired enough to learn something about STEM and many of them inspired enough to actually go into STEM.”  In order to achieve these goals, the report also urged for a doubling of current yearly federal appropriation for STEM education.

While Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called the report a “valuable resource” for future initiatives, some have expressed criticism over the potential costs.

Posted by: Michael Darden

Sources: The White House, National Journal, Science, Brookings Institute

Photo Credit: Science Class at UIS courtesy of flick user jeremy.wilburn

You Are Invited: “Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control”

Please join the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Environmental Change Security Program, Program on America and the Global Economy, and Science and Technology Innovation Program for a book launch of:

Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control

Featuring:

James Rodger Fleming, Author, Fixing the Sky, and Professor of Science, Technology and Society, Colby College

Chaired by:

Geoff Dabelko, Director, Environmental Change and Security Program, Woodrow Wilson Center

October 6, 2010

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

6th Floor Flom Auditorium
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004 USA

Please RSVP with your name and affiliation to ecsp@wilsoncenter.org.

The archived video of this event will be available within 1-2 weeks of the program date at www.wilsoncenter.org. Copies of the book will be on sale at the event.

As the international community struggles to agree on ways to address climate change, geoengineering has garnered increased attention from governments and scientists. Environmental historian James Fleming argues in his new book, Fixing the Sky: The Checkered History of Weather and Climate Control, that a concerted study of the history, social aspects, and governance of technological interventions and geoengineering proposals, both past and present, is crucial to informing the debate.

“Geoengineering is in fact untested and dangerous. We don’t understand it, we can’t test it on smaller than planetary scales, and we don’t have the political capital, wisdom, or will to govern it. Planetary tinkering is not ‘cheap,’ as some economists claim, since the side effects are unknown,” asserts the former Wilson Center public policy scholar asserts in Fixing the Sky.

Weaving together stories from elite science, cutting-edge technology, and popular culture over the last two centuries, Fleming reminds policymakers and scientists of the political, military, and ethical implications of managing the world’s climate. Based on archival and primary research, Fleming’s original story speaks to anyone who has a stake in sustaining the planet.

Location: Woodrow Wilson Center at the Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW (“Federal Triangle” stop on Blue/Orange Line), 6th Floor Flom Auditorium. A map to the Center is available here. Note: Due to heightened security, entrance to the building will be restricted and photo identification is required. Please allow additional time to pass through security.

Manufacturing in the Public’s Eyes

According to a study entitled “Made in America? What the Public Thinks of Manufacturing Today” sponsored by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, 78 percent of respondents thought that manufacturing was very important to our economic prosperity and 76 percent thought that it was very important to our standard of living.  Furthermore, respondents thought that the manufacturing industry followed only the energy industry in terms which sector is most important to maintain a strong national economy.

While manufacturing was clearly an important feature of the American economy, according to the results, people have expressed hesitancy in pursuing a career in this field.  Manufacturing ranked sixth in terms of preference for starting a career today, and only 30 percent of respondents agreed that they would strongly encourage their children to pursue a career in manufacturing.

Craig Giffi, vice chairman and Deloitte’s consumer & industrial products industry leader in the United States, said that the discrepancy between these numbers can in part be attributed to the fact that the public is somewhat concerned about the continued health of the manufacturing sector.  The study emphasized that while the public’s perception of manufacturing may be high, we need leadership and policies to help ensure that it continues to be an essential pillar of the American economy.

Posted by: Wesley Milillo

Sources: The Manufacturing Institute & Deloitte, PR Newswire

Photo credit: the factory behind a fence courtesy of flickr user Kraetzsche Photo

R&D, Innovation, and American Competitiveness

Last week the Obama administration unveiled a new initiative to bolster innovation and research in the form of a $100 billion research and development (R&D) tax credit.  The proposal was designed to “encourage private sector R&D” and would make permanent the tax credit.  It was in keeping with the three roles for government Obama has identified in his national innovation strategy: invest in the building blocks of long-term economic growth, create the right environment to encourage private sector investment, and harness innovative power.

Meanwhile, a bill that would have made the research tax credit permanent recently failed in the Senate, as Democrats argued that it would delay passage of a small-business bill.

Historically, the federal government has been eager to fund innovative research, providing support to projects as early as the 1930’s.  In fact, the United States has long been the largest funder of research and development, though many nations are quickly catching up by increasing the percentage of GDP devoted to R&D.

While the United States has long been at the forefront of funding new research and developing new technologies, the need to harness its innovative power through R&D is now more apparent than ever.  When testifying on Capitol Hill about R&D and clean energy, Michael Greenstone concluded, “The key purpose of my testimony has been to describe why R&D is crucial for our future competitiveness…”  Whether or not this message is taken to heart and the U.S. effectively harnesses its innovative power through R&D remains a key challenge in our increasingly globalized economy.

Posted by: Michael Darden

Sources: American Association for the Advancement of Science, Brookings Institute, Palo Alto Online, Reuters, whitehouse.gov

Photo credit: Using Argonne’s Modular Automotive Technology Testbed (MATT) courtesy of flickr user Argonne National Laboratory