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Regional Dialogues on the Changing Environment for the Physical andMathematical Sciences: Report of Two Conferences: Burlingame, California Boulder, Colorado
conserve their great and demonstrable strengths while respondingto a new national environment and changing national needs. Thus themathematical and physical sciences need to continue to ensure thattheir work serves national purposes.
The dialogues are a useful beginning, but only that; and while severaladditional dialogues should be convened, the scientific societies,universities, and other institutions that make up the U.S. researchenterprise have a major responsibility to continue and broaden them.
Background: The Chantilly Conference
The first of the dialogues organized by the National Research Council's Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applicationswas held in Chantilly, Virginia, on August 13-15, 1993. That conferencebrought together about 35 individuals with diverse backgrounds fromthe science community, government agencies (in both the executivebranch and the Congress), academic and other organizations responsiblefor science policy, and other sectors as divergent as philosophyand venture capital. What bonded the group was a common interestin the future goals of science, despite members' divergent viewson how science can best meet these goals.
Five commissioned papers, together with an overview from conferenceco-chairs Richard N. Zare and Radford Byerly and a conference synthesisprepared by Harold Shapiro, president of Princeton University, werepublished by the National Academy Press in early 1994 in a smallvolume entitled Beginning a Dialogue on the Changing Environment for the Physicaland Mathematical Sciences. The organizers stressed the importanceof beginning a dialogue, recognizing that the changes now under way, and theconcerns and issues that they raise for the scientific and educationalcommunities, are unlikely to be fully understood, let alone resolved,in the context of any single conference or meeting.
Expectations for the Regional Dialogues
Many participants in the initial process urged continuing and propagatingthe dialogue set in motion at Chantilly. Among a number of stepssuggested for extending and publicizing the results of the conferencewas a recommendation that the National Research Council, in conjunctionwith cooperating local universities or research institutions, sponsora series of regional meetings to be carried out in the spirit ofthe Chantilly dialogue. As expressed by the co-chairs of the firstconference in Beginning a Dialogue,