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Preparing Chemists and Chemical Engineers for a Globally Oriented Workforce: A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable Introduction and Summary Donald M. Burland National Science Foundation Michael P. Doyle University of Maryland Michael E. Rogers National Institutes of Health CONTEXT Science is an international endeavor, global in its practice as a profession, and impacting virtually every facet of the quality of life on this planet. It is also practiced in a world that is changing, increasingly growing smaller and more accessible to the average person. That the world is becoming smaller can be illustrated by a few salient facts: A three-minute phone call between New York and London in 1960 cost (in constant 2000 dollars) $60.42; the same call in 2000 could be made for $0.40. Average air transportation revenue per passenger-mile in 1930 was $0.68 (in constant 1990 dollars); it had been reduced in 1990 to $0.11 (Masson, 2001). The increasing globalization of the world economy has also resulted in the movement of industrial production and labor markets. There are daily news stories about displaced U.S. workers in the textile and steel industries and the movement of computer programming jobs from the United States to India and China. The nature of the industrial research and development enterprise in the United States is also changing in response to global developments. In 2000, foreign corporations spent $26 billion on research and development activities in the United States, and U.S. corporations spent $20 billion on these activities in other countries (National Science Board, 2004). From the point of view of large corporations, R&D is already very much an international activity. Why is this happening? Is this a real trend? What are the economic, sociological, and scientific factors behind this trend? What does increased globalization mean for the education and development of U.S. undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students, and faculty in the chemistry and chemical engineering professions? The impact of international discoveries that benefit health, increase energy production, and lead to improved understanding of the environment indicate that the consequences of globalization have a particularly significant impact on the chemistry and chemical engineering professions. A major factor driving chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries is that they are now multinational in scope and find it necessary to have a workforce that is proficient in operating at an international level. These companies are seeking new ideas, a trained workforce, and new market opportunities wherever they may be found. Scientific research and development are on the rise not only in the United States, but also around the globe. Indeed, opportunities may be arising faster in other countries. The increasing globalization of scientific research thus requires that our educational systems be alert to this changing landscape and produce globally aware scientists and engineers. The National Science Board, the oversight and policy-making body for the National Science Foundation, has recently (NSB, 2001) emphasized “the importance of increased international cooperation in fundamental research and education, particularly with developing countries and by younger scientists and engineers.” Academic researchers must collaborate with colleagues throughout the world to remain at the leading edge of research; like their industrial colleagues, they need to be comfortable when operating at an international level. Governments are confronting difficult problems that require international cooperation, as well as timely scientific advice. However, distances, borders, differences of language and societal values, and differing research The views expressed here are those of the authors and not those of the National Science Foundation, the University of Maryland, or the National Institutes of Health.
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Preparing Chemists and Chemical Engineers for a Globally Oriented Workforce: A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable infrastructures raise barriers to international cooperation and decrease visibility and accessibility among international scientists. The implications of globalization for the training of chemists and chemical engineers were discussed at this workshop. The goal of the workshop was to explore existing and possible new mechanisms for creating an internationally engaged workforce. This is of particular importance to U.S. institutions involved in research and development in the chemical sciences, because the United States has not had to address these issues explicitly in the recent past. A major outcome of this workshop was a rich discussion of trends in globalization that are impacting or about to impact the U.S. workforce in chemistry and chemical engineering, and the changes that need to occur in the way U.S. chemists and chemical engineers are prepared for this new environment. Though changing rapidly, the world is by no means an even playing field. Although globalization has done much to boost the economies and standards of living of the developed world, there are serious discrepancies between the developed and underdeveloped worlds. The gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in 2001 was $27,000 in the high-income countries (Europe, United States, Japan, and Korea) but only $1,300 in the least-developed countries (in parity purchasing power in U.S. dollars). Life expectancy in the least-developed countries was 50 years, compared to 78 years in the high-income countries (UNDP, 2003). These disparities in quality of life do not represent a stable situation, but as E.O. Wilson (2002) has noted, “For every person in the world to reach U.S. levels of consumption with existing technology would require four more planet earths.” Bringing the world economies into equilibrium is going to require international cooperation and ingenuity. Other problems of current importance that require an international approach include global warming, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), AIDS and other worldwide epidemics, the production of adequate potable water supplies, and energy conservation. The United States in recent years has been reassessing its role in global affairs. It has withdrawn from the Kyoto Treaty on global warming, declined to sign the Land Mines Ban Treaty, withdrawn from the ABM Treaty of 1973, and declined to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty. Nature (Brumfiel, 2004) recently pointed out that as a result of visa restrictions imposed after 9/11, the total number of visiting scholars in the United States declined in 2002-2003 for the first time in at least a decade. The substantial impact that heightened security needs have had on the ability of U.S. laboratories to bring in or extend the tenure of foreign scientists, i.e. visa problems, was mentioned at the workshop. These issues merit detailed examination, but were not part of the focus of this workshop. The issues mentioned above provided the context for this workshop. Attendees and speakers at the workshop included leaders in chemistry and chemical engineering from industry, academia, government, and private funding organizations. OVERVIEW Matthew J. Slaughter, a labor economist at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, opened the workshop by describing how global influences affect national labor markets. He pointed out four factors that influence globalization of the labor force: (1) the number of trained people in a given country choosing to be in the labor force, (2) the range of business activities that companies choose within a country, (3) the prices those activities command on the world market, and (4) the capital and technology used for the activities. National labor forces become more global when cross-border flows—people (immigration), goods and services (trade), and multinational capital and technology (foreign direct investment, FDI)—influence one or more of these four factors. In considering globalization, he noted that immigration is typically the focus of discussion, where it is often simplistically assumed that jobs exported from a country result in a net loss of jobs in that country. He said that this assumption fails to recognize that the dynamics of the job market might not be a zero-sum game, and overlooks the increasing influence of trade and FDI. A conclusion from this analysis is that chemists and chemical engineers should encourage global participation in U.S. research and development activities while simultaneously increasing the number of U.S. citizens who pursue careers in these areas. THE INDUSTRIAL PERSPECTIVE Speakers representing three major multinational chemical producers—Miles P. Drake, Air Products and Chemicals; Karin Bartels, Degussa; and Thomas M. Connelly, DuPont—discussed industry’s perspective on the global workforce. The overall message from these speakers was that dramatic changes are occurring in the chemical industry as a result of the ease with which companies can manufacture and distribute across the world, and that these changes are influencing how research and development is being conducted in international corporations. Today, research neither is carried out via the colonial model—where central headquarters controls what work will be done around the world—nor does it operate by the independent regional or “separate-but-equal” model. In this separation between regional locations and headquarters, work is partitioned and fragmented, whereas developments in global communication have made it critical for international corporations to evolve to an intradependent model—where a corporation’s activities around the world are seamlessly integrated into a coordinated whole. Given these changes in the corporate research environment, the importance of developing “soft skills” (also called
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Preparing Chemists and Chemical Engineers for a Globally Oriented Workforce: A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable “higher-order skills”) in all workers was frequently mentioned. These skills include the ability to work on teams, to communicate ideas orally and in writing, and to be flexible in learning new subjects. Professionals who have the “ability to go out and connect with others” are especially valued. Globalization has added the requirement that researchers be culturally sensitive, which includes having language skills. Research is and will continue to be communicated predominantly in English. The need for U.S.-trained scientists and engineers to develop language skills is thus important for gaining insight into other cultures, not just for communication purposes. In this new environment, U.S. chemistry and chemical engineering students with study-abroad experiences will have a competitive advantage in employment. Recruiting and preparing researchers from diverse backgrounds within the U.S. workforce and around the world is also desired because different perspectives help stimulate creativity and provide broader thinking on future product applications and improving design. Ultimately, research and development is tightly linked to and will follow the market place. THE ACADEMIC PERSPECTIVE Professors from three research-intensive universities—Matthew V. Tirrell, University of California, Santa Barbara; Alvin L. Kwiram, University of Washington; and Mostafa El-Sayed, Georgia Institute of Technology—discussed the effect of globalization on education of the chemistry and chemical engineering workforce. The overarching focus of these educators was very similar to the industrial perspective—academic activities must become more globally integrated in order for the United States to remain competitive. There are concerns that a decline in the U.S. capacity to compete in science and engineering (as other countries increase their capacity) could be damaging to the overall U.S. economy. Decreasing enrollments of U.S. students in science and engineering (including chemical disciplines) and changes in attracting foreign talent are fueling such concerns. Major challenges discussed by these three educators were how to increase the numbers of students choosing chemistry and chemical engineering majors, and how to provide the appropriate level of preparation to compete in the global marketplace. For example, the current U.S. style of chemical engineering education was examined. It was noted that engineering has been described as embodying design under constraints—where many of the constraints are social, political, and ethical. One need only consider the current discussions surrounding genetically modified foods and stem-cell research to see that different cultures and differently organized societies respond in quite different way to the introduction of new technologies. In training students to operate within these constraints, the case was made for treating engineering as more of a profession than a major, which means expanding the 4-year engineering degree to a 5-year program. At the same time, it was pointed out that the overall number of technical subjects with which a modern chemist or chemical engineer in the U.S. must have at least some familiarity has increased tremendously. This trend has had the effect of squeezing liberal arts education out of the science or engineering curriculum and makes study-abroad experiences difficult to accommodate. Yet it is the development of skills in such fields as languages, management, and political science that industry is seeking in its scientists and engineers. The need for additional courses in the curriculum is competing with another trend: the need to reduce the already too-long time to degree. Many potential solutions to the problem of developing a globally aware science and engineering workforce were discussed: (1) improve overall science and engineering literacy (K-12 education), (2) create alternative graduate degree programs, (3) increase and take advantage of industrial internships and cooperative experiences, (4) encourage more international experiences—through existing funding opportunities such as from NSF, and (5) provide more international research collaboration such as through the U.K. based Worldwide University Network, which seeks to create worldwide research institutions to promote research collaborations, e-learning, and graduate student and researcher exchanges. THE INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE Representatives of two internationally engaged organizations—Robert P. Grathwol, of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and Sharon H. Hrynkow, of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fogarty International Center—discussed their roles in the development of a global workforce. Both of these speakers described the small numbers of students and faculty who have been involved in international study or research collaborations. Only 1 percent of U.S. college students travel abroad to study, and about 80 percent of U.S. faculty members have never collaborated with foreign scholars. Each speaker described opportunities that are available for students and researchers to gain international experience. However, it was pointed out that the need for international partnerships will continue to expand, with or without substantial U.S. participation, for a number of reasons: (1) The problems that must be solved are increasingly global. (2) The ease of worldwide communication has made collaboration much more effective than in the past. (3) Support is available, not only from NIH and the Humboldt Foundation, but also from such organizations as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (4) Global scientific culture of peer review, ethical norms, and communication with the public, is developing.
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Preparing Chemists and Chemical Engineers for a Globally Oriented Workforce: A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable CONCLUSION The subject of this workshop was broad, and the discussions raised many questions that will require further thought and discussion: Supply of Quality Scientists Is there in fact a shortage of quality scientists in or a decreasing flow of intellectual capital to the United States? Assuming that we are at the beginning of a decreased flow of intellectual capital to the United States, do we need a stronger effort to attract more U.S. citizens into the scientific enterprise? Soft Skills What, explicitly, are “soft skills” that are so important to global collaboration and communication? Should skill in a foreign language be re-emphasized in graduate education? Can teamwork and networking skills be fostered in a graduate environment? How does one add “soft skills” to an already crowded curriculum without increasing the time-to-degree? Are there successful or evolving models that others can adapt and adopt? Whose job is it to provide scientists and engineers with these skills? Industry? Universities? Government agencies? What skills beyond those currently emphasized in U.S. universities are necessary for attacking problems that are worldwide in nature, such as global warming, malaria epidemics, and water availability? What government and institutional support systems for these efforts are needed beyond those currently available? Gaining International Experience How can we communicate the enrichment and scientific opportunities that foreign research experiences create for U.S. students and faculty? How can the downsides for students of being absent from the U.S. workforce for extended periods be minimized? Can we leverage the existing international flavor of U.S. graduate programs to enhance global educational experiences? International Collaboration Is international collaboration in research and development really a good idea? Will it not just lead to a further drain of intellectual property and jobs away from the United States? How can the universities, industry, and government work together to take full advantage of globalization? What are the mechanisms for successfully conducting collaborative research with underdeveloped and developing countries? What benefit do U.S. researchers receive from such collaborations? REFERENCES Brumfiel, G., D. Cyranoski, C. Dennis, J. Giles, H. Hoag, and Q. Schiermeier. 2004. As One Door Closes …, Nature, 427, 190-195. Masson, Paul R. 2001. “Migration, Human Capital, and Poverty in a Dual-Economy of a Developing Country” IMF Working Papers WP/01/128 Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund. National Science Board (NSB). 2001. Toward a More Effective Role for the U.S. Government in International Science and Engineering (NSB01-187). Arlington,VA: National Science Foundation. National Science Board. 2004. Science and Engineering Indicators 2004 (NSB 04-01). Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation. United Nations Development Program (UNDP). 2003. Human Development Report Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wilson, E.O. 2002. The Future of Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
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