and business and industry can act on to maintain the level of world-class excellence in research and graduate education necessary for the United States to compete, prosper, and achieve national goals for health, energy, the environment, and security in the global community of the twenty-first century. The first four recommendations reaffirm the commitments of each major partner, and the following six enable these commitments. It is important that these recommendations must be implemented together, as they reinforce each other in critical ways.
Universities are today among the most complex institutions in modern society. As James Duderstadt has noted, research universities are comprised of many activities, some nonprofit, some publicly regulated, and some operating in intensely competitive marketplaces. They teach students, conduct research for various clients, provide health care, engage in economic development, stimulate social change, and provide mass entertainment (e.g., athletics). In systems terminology, the modern university is a “loosely coupled, adaptive system,” with a growing complexity, as its various components respond to changes in its environment.2
As the major focus of the charge to the committee was graduate education and research, we preface our recommendations by reinforcing the importance of undergraduate education, both in the research universities that we are examining and in other important institutions, from liberal arts colleges to state universities that also provide undergraduate education. The strength of undergraduate teaching and learning to our nation’s workforce and prosperity and to preparing students who go on to graduate study cannot be overstated.
Similarly, the unusually broad intellectual needs of the nation and the increasing interdependence of the academic disciplines provide compelling reasons why such federal support should encompass all areas of scholarship, including the natural sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, the arts, and professional disciplines such as engineering, education, law, and medicine. Our report and its recommendations are designed to encourage support across all of these areas.3
Within the broader framework of United States innovation and research and development (R&D) strategies, the federal government should adopt stable and effective policies, practices, and funding for university-performed R&D and graduate education so that the nation will have a
2 James J. Duderstadt, A University for the 21st Century, p. 50.
3 We look forward to a Congressionally requested report on the role of the humanities and social sciences in our nation, due in 2012 from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.