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 affecting science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education. Education is a relatively new focus for the Academy complex, and many of the recommendations in its reports on the subject are just now beginning to influence educational policy, school programs, and classroom practice. Many interesting issues regarding education are likely to be addressed in the future as the efforts of the Academy complex continue.
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.