Letter of Solicitation
GRAND CHALLENGES IN ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES: SEEKING INPUT
FEBRUARY 1, 1999
A new committee of the United States National Research Council (Committee on Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences) has been asked by the National Science Foundation to identify and prioritize grand challenges in environmental sciences that are likely to be relevant over the next 10-30 years. The committee would like advice from the scientific community and others. The idea is to describe a few grand challenges that appear to have the greatest scientific importance, research potential, and practical value. The definition of environmental sciences is broad, including the natural sciences, the social sciences, and engineering. A description of the project's scope and a list of committee members with brief biographical sketches will be available on the Web at < www.nas.edu/gces > as soon as this Web site is complete, about February 8, 1999.
The committee invites submission of ideas for grand challenges in environmental sciences; it will use those ideas to help it in its task, and anticipates inviting some respondents to a future workshop for more extended discussions. The time and place of the workshop will be announced on the committee's Web site.
The committee considers that any grand challenge must be compelling to scientists and the public, must require a sustained research effort, and must be
intellectually exciting. Beyond that, we ask you to provide the following information about your candidate grand challenge:
A one-sentence summary that will quickly convey your idea to a broad audience.
A narrative description of the challenge.
Evaluation of the challenge in terms of all the following criteria that are relevant to your idea:
Practical payoff (i.e., help in solving environmental problems).
Feasibility (likelihood that valuable results would be produced over the next ten years).
The need for interdisciplinary collaboration, especially if it builds capacity for dealing with other challenges.
Research resources available or needed, including infrastructure such as new technology or information systems.
The ability of existing institutions to support the research effort.
We encourage you to think broadly and to provide ideas that make connections among the sciences and between science and practical needs. The committee will begin to consider suggestions on February 26, 1999 and suggestions will be most useful if they are received by then. However, it is likely that suggestions received even as late as the beginning of May will be at least of some help to the committee. We ask for your suggestions, preferably by email to GCES@NAS.EDU . Please also provide your name, your affiliation (if any), your email address, your mailing address, and your telephone number.
We ask you to keep your suggestion to a maximum of one printed page. You may use the email address provided above for questions about our committee and our process as well as for your suggestions. You can also find information on the committee's activities and its report on its Web site.
We look forward to receiving your suggestions. We also encourage you to share this message with colleagues who may be interested.
Committee on Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences
National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council
2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington DC 20418