cessful effort that developed the tools and processes that vaulted the United States into the technology and market share leadership of the worldwide component and equipment industries.”
Another bright spot for innovation in the United States has been an upsurge of activity in the states. “If the federal government is stuck in the red zone, I’d say the states are scoring touchdowns right now,” said University of Michigan President Emeritus James Duderstadt. “There is considerable activity at the state level, particularly in STEM education at the K-12 level, in higher education, and in research.”
The most successful states have had leadership from their governors and a long-term strategic framework with short-term actions that can be embraced, according to Duderstadt. Important ideas often bubble up from the grassroots level, and leadership at the top is needed to implement those ideas. Grassroots political activities are also crucial for building awareness of state programs and for bringing pressure to bear on federal policymakers. For example, advisory groups drawing from the business community, higher education, the media, and other groups can have an important influence on state policy.
Some state policies may involve paradigm shifts, according to Duderstadt. Examples include moving to 12-month appointments for teachers or distributing some federal research support to build capacity as well as to take advantage of established capacity.
States also have made progress by sharing successful strategies among themselves. And federal policymakers can learn important lessons from the states. “Frequently what happens in the states leads what happens in this town,” said Duderstadt.