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Science and Engineering Research in a Changing World SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING RESEARCH IN A CHANGING WORLD NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OCR for page R1
Science and Engineering Research in a Changing World Background Since Abraham Lincoln approved the Congressional charter of the National Academy of Sciences in 1863, the Academy complex—now made up of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council—has been advising government about the impact of science and technology on society. The Academy complex provides independent advice to government by appointing committees of experts who serve without compensation, asking these committees to prepare draft reports by consensus, and subjecting these drafts to rigorous independent scientific review before release to ensure their quality and integrity. To avoid potential conflict of interest and bias, careful attention is given to the composition and balance of study committees. As the 21st century approaches with science and technology assuming increasing importance in society, the Governing Board of the National Research Council has synthesized, summarized, and highlighted principal conclusions and recommendations from recent reports to inform decisions in a number of key policy matters. The resulting series of papers do not address all the intersections of science and technology with public policy, but they do address some of the most important. They are directed to federal administrators, members of Congress, university administrators, leaders of nongovernmental organizations, and all others involved in the development and implementation of public policies involving science and technology. This paper discusses policies that can strengthen linkages between science and engineering research and national objectives. A separate paper, “Technology and the Nation’s Future,” focuses on government policies regarding technology development and proposes measures to facilitate the translation of new knowledge to new capabilities. Previous reports from the Academy complex have had a major effect on science and technology policy. They have helped to improve the quality of science and engineering research in the federal government; sharpened the focus of federally-funded science and engineering efforts; contributed to the creation of important public and private organizations, such as the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; and shaped a wide range of policies affecting the direction and support of research. The issues summarized in this paper from past reports continue to be relevant to the work of the Academy complex and to the nation. This document, with direct links to the text of all reports cited herein, is available on the Internet at http://www2.nas.edu/21st. A box at the end describes other ways to obtain information on the Academy complex and the topics discussed in this paper.