for applied research, Dr. Good observed. “If you want people to respond, you have to reward them,” she said. One way is to make it easier for researchers to get funding to continue their work long enough to develop a working prototype, she suggested. Another is to alter the tenure system. “If that reward of tenure, advancement, and promotion is based just on the number of papers in the best peer-reviewed journals, we won’t get there,” she said. “There has to be something else attached to that.” She said she believes many university researchers would embrace such change because they “actually like to see something useful come of what they do.”
Dr. Good said she was very encouraged by the activities discussed at the day’s symposium and described it as “one of the better ones we have had. It really was on topics that are timely.” She then opened the session to questions.
Jim Hurd of Green Science Exchange observed that many other nations “are more command-and-control than we are.” While it is difficult to discuss industrial policy in the United States, he said, “countries like China are happy to throw hundreds of millions of dollars and millions of people at a goal.”
William Harris of Science Foundation Arizona responded that the nation has reached a stage where it is not having a discussion. “We have an important issue to discuss, and we make it a Democrat or Republican issue. I think that’s a tragedy.” The United States lives in a kind of cocoon where it thinks it is exceptional and its universities are the best. “You can imagine the same things being said by GM in 1973,” he added. “Right now, the entire system is somewhat at risk because (America) is not having the same kind of serious discussion we are having here and agreeing to solve problems.” Mr. Harris said he shares Mr. Hurd’s concern that the United States has a political problem in that it is not addressing the opportunities that universities and industry can provide if they work together.
The innovation model that worked for the United States during the Cold War may not be optimal in today’s situation, Mr. Harris continued. “Instead of talking about basic and applied research, which are archaic terms, let’s talk about world first-rate research and world-class research.” He contended that a lot of time is wasted discussing the wrong words. “We are putting a lot of money going into research. Doubling or tripling it is not the right idea unless you have some kind of objective that addresses the needs of society. Just throwing money at it won’t do it.”
Dr. Good said one of the biggest issues is how to go forward and have a conversation that really affects the country as a whole about what is happening in the rest of the world. “We’re losing the middle class at a very, very alarming speed,” she said. If that continues, she added, “what we have thought about for last 50 years in this country will change dramatically.” Americans still believe our technology is the best, so the country still protects technology other nations already have. “We are still working pretty much under the Cold War regime,” Dr. Good said. “That is not where we are, and it is not where the rest of the world is. We have to get a whole lot more realistic.”