The Tribulations of Innovation Policy

A recent report issued by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation entitled “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Innovation Policy” evaluates the innovation policies of different countries and their impact on the global economic system, as well as the sectors in which most innovation policies are implemented.  The authors discuss how innovation, which they define as “the improvement of existing or the creation of entirely new products, processes, services, and business or organizational models”, has four possible outcomes for both the host country and the world: Good, Bad, Ugly and Self-Destructive.” According to the authors: “Good,” benefits the country and the world simultaneously; “Bad,” fails to benefit either the country or the world; “Ugly,” benefits the country at the expense of other nations;  “Self-destructive,” hurts the country while benefiting others.

The report finds that, “far too many countries place a dominant focus on exporting tradable goods as their path to economic growth, while neglecting the opportunity to spur economic growth by raising the productivity of the non-traded sectors of their economy.”  In fact, some argue that China best exemplifies this new trend.

In order to innovate successfully the authors of the report recommend that governments find an appropriate balance within the “Innovation Policy Triangle”: business, technology, and regulations.  The report concludes by arguing that countries must stop viewing unipolarity as the major goal, but rather, embrace the position that mutual global prosperity is the major goal.

Posted by: Wesley Milillo

Sources:, ITIF,,

Photo credit: Destination: Future courtesy of flickr user Gilderic


Linking Innovation to Education Standards

With the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) pending, educators and politicians are mulling over how standards, either national or state-by-state, will deliver results and raise student achievements.

Earlier this week Secretary of Education Arne Duncan attended the Virginia Governor’s Education Summit where he addressed the need for stronger innovation in teaching.  While addressing the crowd, he gave a personal anecdote about his how his children, who attend Virginia public schools, learn of the solar system through song instead of a textbook, an example of innovative learning techniques that move away from the “teach the test” mentality.  He went on to argue that this type of innovative teaching will help the country regain its status as an educational powerhouse.

Secretary Duncan has become a strong advocate for advancing national standards as a means to increase student success across the country, as they are pushing for legislation that is supportive of reform.  However, some local officials are objecting to setting national standards.

Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, who hosted the event, argued that he “would prefer that federal rules allow a choice between the national standards or equivalent state test,” Governor McDonnell made the decision not to let Virginia compete in the federally funded Race to the Top program earlier this summer.  Despite the differences in opinion between the two, McDonnell praised Duncan for his “relentless focus on setting high standards.”

At a Wilson Center event earlier this year, a group of Distinguished Einstein Fellows gathered to discuss this very issue.  One panelist, Kirk Janowiak argued that a balance must be found between standards.  “If they are made high enough to be meaningful, then we end up squashing the innovation of teaching, and we end up providing our teachers with scripts,” but continued by adding that if standards are too low  “we open up ourselves to the current trend we have of mediocrity.”

In an attempt to raise the bar in education, Janowiak argued that compromise must be reached between local and federal officials in order to ensure America’s educational success for the future.

Posted by: Michael Darden

Sources: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Photo credit: David Hawxhurst, Wilson Center

Biofuels, Subsidies, and Jobs

Like most everything else in our current political climate, biofuels have emerged as a contentious issue for all those concerned.  Farmers argue that the needs of local owners are paramount.  Politicians argue that extending biofuels subsidies will help produce much needed jobs.  Economists, meanwhile, argue that these subsidies preclude greater investment in green technology, increase farmland use- raising the cost of food, and eschew energy independence.

At the Wilson Center earlier this year, C. Ford Runge, Distinguished McKnight Director of the Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy at the University of Minnesota, spoke of America’s biofuels subsidies.  He noted the current inefficiencies of biofuels  and stated that “to fill the tank of an SUV with ethanol will require enough corn to feed a poor family in a developing country for a year.”  At a later event, Randy Schnepf, an agricultural policy specialist at the Congressional Research Service, explained that ethanol in the U.S. represents 97 percent of all biofuels production.  He also noted the market-distorting effects on food prices due to biofuels subsidies.

Despite these criticisms, the Obama administration remains stalwart in supporting biofuels as a means to achieve energy independence.  According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, “Advancing biomass and biofuel production holds the potential to create green jobs, which is one of the many ways the Obama Administration is working to rebuild and revitalize rural America.”

Posted by: Wesley Milillo

Sources: Environmental Protection Agency, The Mountain Mail, The New York Times, Washington Monthly,

Photo credit: Corn of the Children courtesy of flickr user Whatknot.

Book Launch: The Terrific Rise and Terrible Fall of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger: European debt and The Future of U.S.-style Globalization

You Are Invited

The Program on America and the Global Economy (PAGE) Presents a Book Launch:

The Terrific Rise and Terrible Fall of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger: European debt and

The Future of U.S.-style Globalization

Featuring: David J. Lynch, Senior Writer, Bloomberg News

Moderated by: Kent Hughes, Director, Program on America and the Global Economy, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

David J. Lynch, 50, is a senior writer for Bloomberg news.  He covered the global economy for USA TODAY from 1994 until 2010. He joined the paper as a staff writer in the Money section before becoming the founding bureau chief in both London and Beijing. Lynch covered the war in Kosovo and was an embedded reporter with the U.S. Marines in the invasion of Iraq. In 2001, he became the first journalist from USA TODAY to be selected for the prestigious Nieman fellowship at Harvard University. He has reported from more than 50 countries.

He is the author of the forthcoming “When The Luck of The Irish Ran Out: The World’s Most Resilient Country and Its Struggle to Rise Again,” an account of modern Ireland’s journey from rags to riches and back again.  An experienced public speaker, Lynch has made numerous television appearances on BBC and Sky News in London and C-SPAN and PBS in the United States. Before joining USA TODAY, Lynch covered the aerospace industry for The Orange County Register in southern California, where he won several awards. In the 1980s, he was the editor of a trade publication focused on national security issues in Washington, D.C., called Defense Week.

Lynch has a master’s degree in international relations from Yale University and a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Ct. He lives outside Washington with his wife Kathleen and their three sons.

Tuesday, November 9th:  9:30 to 11:00 a.m.  5th floor conference room, Woodrow Wilson Center

RSVP (acceptances only) to

The Woodrow Wilson Center is located in the Ronald Reagan Building at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. (Federal Triangle Metro stop on the Blue/Orange Line). For a map and directions see:

Please bring photo ID and allow time for the security checkpoint.

You Are Invited: “Fixing the Financial System: What’s Next?”

Please join the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Program on America and the Global Economy and the Wilson Center on the Hill event:

Fixing the Financial System: What’s Next?


Rene M. Stultz, Everett D. Reese Chair of Banking and Monetary Economics, The Ohio State University

Mark Oesterle, Chief Counsel, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Moderated by:

Kent Hughes, Director, Program on America and the Global Economy, Woodrow Wilson Center

Tuesday, October 26

12:00-1:15 p.m.

B-369 Rayburn House Office Building

Please RSVP to or 202-691-4357

The Wilson Center on the Hill is very pleased to welcome Rene Stulz, one of the fifteen authors of the “Squam Lake Report: Fixing the Financial System.”   President Harry Truman used to yearn for a ‘one handed economist’ who would give him clear advice.  In the Squam Lake Report fifteen top economists came together to give their collective assessment of what caused the financial crisis and what steps we should take to avoid another.  He will be joined by Mark Oesterle from the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

The archived video of this event will be available within 1-2 weeks of the program date at

Posted by: PAGE Staff

Collaborative Competition?

According to a recently updated report by The National Academies Press entitled “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” greater amounts of international students who excel in the STEM subjects are going on to attain post-secondary education.  The report also demonstrates that over two-thirds of U.S. Ph.D recipients are not US citizens; and that the US ranks 27th among developed nations in the propor­tion of college students receiving undergraduate degrees in science or engineering.  The report states that “many other nations have been markedly progressing, thereby affecting America’s relative ability to compete effectively for new factories, research laboratories, administrative centers—and jobs.”

In a recent essay in Foreign Affairs, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan argued against this notion that global competitiveness is a zero-sum game.  He explained that, paradoxically, in order to succeed today, we must collaborate more with our international partners.  “In fact, enhancing educational achievement and economic viability — at home and abroad — is more a win-win game, one with enormous benefits for the world and for the United States.”

At a Wilson Center event in March, Andreas Schleicher of the OECD argued that international collaboration, along with  effective domestic reform, could help narrow the achievement gap, raise productivity, and add approximately $17 trillion dollars to the American economy over the coming half century, further showing the potential benefits to be had with a healthy dose of international cooperation.

Posted by: Wesley Milillo

Sources: Foreign Affairs, USA Today

Photo credit: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Prime Minister Tony Blair courtesy of flickr user Center for American Progress.

STEM Panel Discuss Teacher Development

Earlier today, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) hosted a panel to discuss the future of STEM teaching.  The event, “The Analytic Framework: A Tool for Advancing Change and Innovation in STEM Teacher Preparation and Development” highlighted APLU’s  Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative initiative (SMTI) and its impact thus far.

Part of the SMTI initiative was to formulate an “Analytical Framework” that creates standards for concepts, language, and metrics within STEM.  Charles Coble, co-director of SMTI and Lizanne DeStefano, Fox Family Professor of Education and Director of I-STEM at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, talked of the importance to gather input for the framework around the country in order to build consensus towards the way future educators receive their preparation.  Coble commented that “common language,” and specific “definitions of quality” need to be present to ensure an effective workforce.

The association, which already includes 125 public research universities, aims to create a new cadre of STEM-based educators through their initiative, and currently prepares over 7,500 teachers annually.

Posted by: Michael Darden

Sources: APLU

Photo credit: “UMKC Students and Professor in Classroom” courtesy of flickr user umkcofficial