Note: Further information on the Campus for Research Excellence And Technological Enterprise (CREATE) is available via the CREATE Project Brief.
Source: McMahon, D.S., Thorsteinsdóttir, H., Singer, P.A., and Daar, A.S. (2010) ‘Cultivating regenerative medicine innovation in China’, Regenerative Medicine, 5(1): 35-44.
Editor’s note: today’s entry was written by Professor Jill Trewhella (pictured to the right), Deputy Vice Chancellor – Research, University of Sydney, Australia. It was originally delivered at the Australian Financial Review Higher Education Conference, 9 March 2009. Our thanks to Nicholas Haskins, Program Manager (International Networks), Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International), for bringing this interesting text to our attention, and to Professor Trewhella for allowing us to post it here. Professor Trewhella is Professor of Molecular and Microbial Bioscience and a former Director of Bioscience at America’s top nuclear research facility, the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
I’ve included some relevant images below, that were taken today, of two of UW-Madison’s new multidisciplinary research complexes — the nearly finished Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research (the top 2 images) and the under-construction Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery (the bottom 2 images). Kris Olds
The Challenges and Opportunities for Multidisciplinary Research in a World of Complex, Interdependent Systems
For 2000 years, the advancement of knowledge in western civilization has taken a path of increasing specialization. We have approached understanding our world by deconstructing it into smaller and smaller fragments creating the disciplines and subdisciplines in order to be able to predict, or at least to explain, behaviour in nature, individuals, and society.
In today’s knowledge landscape there are powerful drivers for multidisciplinary research. Through simple collaboration, researchers from different disciplines can accomplish more by teaming. Interdisciplinary research moves beyond simple collaboration and teaming to integrate data, methodologies, perspectives, and concepts from multiple disciplines in order to advance fundamental understanding or to solve real world problems. Interdisciplinary research requires either that an individual researcher gains a depth of understanding two or more than one discipline and be fluent in their languages and methodologies, or more frequently that multidisciplinary teams assemble and create a common language and framework for discovery and innovation.
The drivers for interdisciplinary research are varied.
- In the first instance, nature and society are complex, and our innate curiosity to understand the elements and forces within them requires examination from the perspective of multiple disciplines.
- Importantly, we have a critical need to solve societal problems in a world that is subject to many forces:
- The example most urgently felt at this time is the consequence of failing to fully understand all of the forces unleashed by the free movement of capital and globalization.
- Only a short time ago, our urgent focus was on climate change, where we must consider, among other things, how oceans and rivers are influenced by land use and the products of industrialization, atmospheric constituents and solar radiation. These subsystems are linked in time and space and have embedded in them multiple feedback mechanisms.
- The complexity presented in each of these real world examples requires interdisciplinary research that spans the natural and social sciences if we are to attain the kind of predictive capability that could inform policy makers.
- Finally, we know that the tools that we have available to examine our world are most often transformational when drawn from outside the discipline that developed them; such as the discovery of X-rays by physicists and their impact on medicine, or the creation of the internet by the military and its impact on communication in society at large.
Academic institutions are largely organized in ways that promote the advancement of individual disciplines, or sub-disciplines. Policies that govern hiring, promotion, and the allocation of resources often work against interdisciplinary research. If interdisciplinary research is to flourish in academia, then the reward systems in academia have to recognize the different pace with which interdisciplinary research may proceed and the fact that it is often a team rather than individual accomplishment. There also is a need for flexible organizational structures that can operate across discipline-focused departments. Directed institutes and centres with seed funding can encourage interdisciplinary research. But more fundamental advances may emerge from creating a body of scholarly work that establishes common languages and frameworks in specific areas and examines what makes successful interdisciplinary research. This approach is one we are pursuing at the University of Sydney with our newly established Social Sciences Institute and our Institute for Sustainable Solutions.
- Peer review systems that depend heavily on experts from single disciplines, and the reality that interdisciplinary peer review panels are not easy to assemble and operate.
- The extra time needed for interdisciplinary teams to learn develop a common language and framework for study is an impediment in a competitive system that is research output driven.
- How do we set performance goals for evaluating an interdisciplinary research program.
- Interdisciplinary research is likely to be expensive; multiple chief investigators have to come together with disparate capabilities.
- Supporting interdisciplinary research requires an increased tolerance of risk.
- It is often the case that when an agency puts out a call for an interdisciplinary program, pressure is felt from all sides to over-promise and under-budget, leading to the inevitable problem of under-performance.
Benchmarking the mechanisms by which successful interdisciplinary programs have been supported is essential to ensuring the most return for investment in this challenging area. Looking at home and abroad at the results of using problem focused calls, seed funding, sustained funding over a longer term, targeted fellowships, etc, is essential for future planning.
Training researchers to work at the interfaces of the disciplines
Training researchers who can transcend the barriers that exist between the disciplines requires innovation in teaching and learning. In the University setting, our training programs largely focus on in depth training in a discipline or a set of closely related sub-disciplines. To develop the pool of researchers who are best prepared for interdisciplinary research, we need undergraduate programs that provide depth in the major discipline(s) while also enabling students to participate in interdisciplinary courses and be exposed to research experiences that transcend the discipline of their major.
The earlier in our training that we are exposed to different languages and methodologies, the better we are able to understand the potential contributions that may come from outside our discipline. The better we are able to formulate complex questions and then integrate data, ideas, and perspectives as we seek answers.
PhD programs need to consider the benefits of broader exposure. Lowering the barriers to students moving between institutions and even disciplines could have great benefits for our ability to train the next generation of interdisciplinary researchers and researchers who are facile at participating in interdisciplinary teaming. We need to recognize the benefits for students who gain training in one discipline to be able to acquire training in another – and enable it to happen.
There are examples of successful programs aimed at encouraging interdisciplinary training. I once hosted in my Biophysics laboratory (which was in a Chemistry Department!) a young graduate student from the Mathematical Biology Department who was participating in the Integrated Graduate Education Research Traineeship (IGERT) program sponsored by the US National Science Foundation. The idea was, in this case, for the student to learn the difficulties involved in acquiring accurate biophysical data. The student had no aspirations to become an experimentalist, but he left my laboratory understanding how the data were generated and what its limitations and strengths were; and importantly what he would be asking of his collaborators to produce more data! He could use this knowledge to formulate the questions he needed to ask of other kinds of experimental data that would be the ultimate test of his theoretical frameworks. This example may seem a very modest one, as the distance between mathematical biology and experimental biophysics seems not so great, but as such it is a good demonstration of how difficult it can be to become truly interdisciplinary. The languages, cultures and goals of what might be thought of as subdisciplines here, often make what is learned in one of no value to the other; the theorist’s spherical cow being the anecdotal example epitomizing the gulf of understanding between theory and experiment in the study of biological systems.
The potential for interdisciplinary research ultimately hinges on the extent to which individuals want to engage in it, and equally importantly if they have the opportunity to do so. Academia, national laboratories, and industry can create the opportunities and incentives to attract our best and brightest to this frontier. The individual interdisciplinary researcher is likely to be a relatively rare bird, and it will be the teams of researchers that are more the norm for advancing interdisciplinary research. Research teams are in themselves modestly complex social entities and in their 2004 study entitled Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, a panel of the US National Academy of Sciences found that they were limited by the lack of a body of peer reviewed research in the social sciences that “elucidated the complex social and intellectual processes that make for successful interdisciplinary research.” While we have made some strides in thinking about the role of flexible structures and funding incentives to facilitate multidisciplinary teams coming together for a problem focussed effort or an area study, there is a need for social scientists to grapple with the more fundamental aspects of what facilitates successful interdisciplinary research; that is what enables high performance teams breaking down the barriers of language and culture and create knowledge that drives innovation.
National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute Medicine. (2004) Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, Washington DC, National Academies Press.
David Easton (1991) The Division, Integration, and Transfer of Knowledge, Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol 44, No 4, pp 8-27, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The author, Clive Cookson (who also runs the FT.com Science Blog), deftly weaves five threads through the article: the role of the state, and inter-state competition, in shaping a very geographically uneven development process; the role of key university-based researchers (like UW-Madison’s James Thomson) in spurring on innovation; the evolution of technology in shaping the research process and associated ethical debates; the evolving role of the private sector in fueling (or not) stem cell research and associated commercialization dynamics; and the factors shaping the actual and perceived temporal dimensions of stem cell research.
See below for some fascinating maps that the FT drew upon for their associated graphic in ‘An industry to grow‘. Our sincere gratitude to William Hoffman of the University of Minnesota’s Medical School for permission to reprint his maps.
Over the next several months we will be exploring various aspects of international research collaboration. For example, a new entry on the EU’s new international science and technology cooperation framework will be posted shortly.* We will also identify some new(ish) technologies that enable collaboration between geographically dispersed researchers and research teams.
Purdue University’s HUBzero, developed with National Science Foundation (NSF) support (via the multi-university Network for Computational Nanotechnology), is an example of one such technology. My university just posted news of a seminar on HUBzero. I’ll report back in December after the event has been held. For now, though, note that:
HUBzero™ allows you to create dynamic web sites that connect a community in scientific research and educational activities. HUBzero™ sites combine powerful Web 2.0 concepts with a middleware that provides instant access to interactive simulation tools. These tools are not just Java applets, but real research codes that can access TeraGrid, the Open Science Grid, and other national Grid computing resources for extra cycles.
This 4m15s video provides a summary of what HUBzero has to offer:
A high resolution version is available here.
See here for further information on HUBzero. It is important to note that hubs are “web-based collaboration environments” with the following features:
- Interactive simulation tools, hosted on the hub cluster and delivered to your browser
- Simulation tool development area, including source code control and bug tracking
- Animated presentations delivered in a light-weight, Flash-based format
- Mechanism for uploading and sharing resources
- 5-star ratings and user feedback for resources
- User support area, with question-and-answer forum
- Statistics about users and usage patterns
Sample “hubs” include, according to HUBzero:
helping people with disabilities more details…
cancer care engineering more details…
advanced manufacturing techniques more details…
global engineering education more details…
pharmaceutical product development and manufacturing more details…
heat transfer more details…
accelerating clinical and translational research in healthcare more details…
granddaddy of all hubs focused on nanotechnology more details…
This document* outlines costs and details to establish a hub using this technology.
* McLennan, Michael (2008), “The Hub Concept for Scientific Collaboration,” http://hubzero.org/resources/12
The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada just released a detailed report titled Momentum: The 2008 report on university research and knowledge mobilization.
I will paste in the full press release below, and one of us is likely to return to select aspects of the report over the next few weeks. It is abundantly clear that Canada is framing university-related R&D at a global scale, albeit with an eye on select countries and regions. Pages 91-102 are particularly focused on international collaboration with respect to patterns, mechanisms, challenges, and opportunities. Concern with international competition is suffused throughout the report.
The additional point that stands out is the relative significance of universities as drivers of R&D as compared to the private sector, the federal and provincial levels of government, and the non-profit sector. See these two graphics from the report:
A cursory review of the report, and any knowledge of Canada, will also lead to the question of the geographical concentration of said R&D within this large and diverse country. No prizes for correct answers to the question of what is happening where, though the why and what to do about it of structural change in Canada’s geographies of R&D clearly needs some more attention.
Here is the press release:
AUCC report shows universities are major contributors to Canada’s economy and quality of life
Ottawa, October 21, 2008 — The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada has launched a report on the state of Canadian research and development (R&D), with a particular emphasis on university research, at an event that included partners from government, the private sector and the not-for-profit sector.
The report, entitled Momentum: The 2008 report on university research and knowledge mobilization, shows universities are major players in R&D in Canada, performing more than one-third of the country’s research and contributing at least $60 billion to the economy in 2007. However, analysts agree that the world competition for talent, knowledge and innovation is fierce and Canada cannot be complacent with its accomplishments.
“The rest of the world is not standing still and the global race for research talent is becoming more and more intense,” says AUCC chair Tom Traves, president of Dalhousie University. “We expect this report to stimulate public debate on the required level and mix of support for university research in Canada.”
“This is a time when we cannot afford to cut back on public investment, but should instead see the potential for stimulating economic growth at the local and the national level by investing in people and knowledge. Having a highly skilled labour force is undeniably a major asset for any country,” notes AUCC president and CEO Claire Morris. “In these uncertain economic times, Canada must continue to improve its innovative capacity to ensure long-term prosperity,” she adds.
Momentum 2008 focuses on the importance of partnerships in university research and looks at the variety of forms collaboration takes – from university partnerships with private companies to research projects with governments, communities, the not-for-profit sector and international partners. It provides a comprehensive account of Canadian R&D, particularly the activities of the university sector and the resulting progress achieved. It also presents detailed research and analysis of national and international trends that will drive changes in university research and the Canadian R&D landscape in the future.
Momentum 2008 documents the wide range of benefits to Canadians such as new products, services, processes, policies and new ways of understanding society.
This is the second edition of Momentum produced by AUCC. The first was produced in 2005 as a way of providing information to decision makers and policy-makers about the benefits from investments made in university research.
The Momentum report is available online. Download the report.
– 30 –
For more information please contact:
Leslie Cole, Communications Officer,
AUCC, 613 563 3961 x 330
After nearly a year in existence, one of the regular themes we have been profiling in GlobalHigherEd is the relative weight, or presence, of universities in the global research landscape. See, for example, the 4 August entry ‘Globalizing research: forces, patterns, and collaborative practices‘. Of course universities matter – as they should and always will – but the broad trend that we have noted is that firms, think tanks, NGOs, multilateral organizations, topic-specific expert groups, and so on, are playing an increasingly important role in the production of knowledge, of innovation, of creative impulses.
Today’s Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting story (‘Fewer University-Based Researchers Appear on 2008 List of Young Innovators‘) which highlights the fact the Technology Review (published by MIT) only lists 17 out of 35 “Young Innovators Under 35” with affiliations to universities. This number is down from 22 out of 25 in 2007. The other 18 “young innovators” in 2008 are based in firms including Drupal, ICx Technologies, Thatgamecompany, and Twitter. The Technology Review article includes video interviews with other winners as well.
Now, it is easy to be be critical or suspicious regarding this pattern, and even more so as this is but one US-based technology-focused magazine (as proxy measure). Yet universities are becoming, according to increasing numbers of analysts (e.g., Arjun Appadurai), merely one of many sites of knowledge production; a diversification trend that begs the question why?
Is it because of relatively low pay, or rigid institutional structures and lack of opportunity for career progression? Or is it because of ever increasing demands on faculty as mission mandates widen? Or is it due to morale challenges in the context of limited (or declining) levels of state funding? My own university, for example acquires a mere 18% of its budget from the State of Wisconsin despite being a public university with significant state-focused responsibilities.
Or is it because the carrots associated with firms and NGOs, for example, are all too obvious to young researchers? I recently returned from a year in Paris, for example, and was shocked at the lack of opportunity for genuinely brilliant young PhDs. Why wait 10-15 years, if one is lucky, to get the position and space to be somewhat independently creative, when this space is on offer, right now, outside of academe? The creation of an attractive and conducive context, especially for young researchers, is a challenge right now in numerous higher ed systems.
The position of the university as a significant space of knowledge production is not to be taken for granted.
The de-nationalization of research, and the creation of bi-lateral, interregional, and global frameworks for research cooperation, is increasingly becoming an object of desire, discussion, debate, and study.
The overall drive to encourage the de-nationalization of research, and create novel outward-oriented frameworks, has many underlying motives, some framed by scientific logics, and some framed by broader agendas.
Scientific logics include a sense that collaboration across borders generates more innovative research outcomes, higher citation impacts (see, for example, the Evidence Ltd., report below), and enhanced capacity to address ‘global challenges’.
Broader agenda logics include a desire to forge linkages with sites of relatively stronger research capacity and/or funding resources, to create and ideally repatriate expatriate researchers, to boost knowledge economies, to elevate status on the global research landscape, and to engage in scientific diplomacy. On this latter point, and with reference to our 16 June entry ‘Surveying US dominance in science and technology for the Secretary of Defense‘), see last week’s EurActiv profile of the new US Center for Science Diplomacy.
Over the next several months we intend on profiling various aspects of this topic in GlobalHigherEd. The early autumn will see, for example, the emergence of a formal Communication (in EU parlance) that outlines a strategic framework on the “coordination of international science and technology cooperation”. This Communication, and some associated reports, are currently being put together by officials at the Directorate-General for Research (DG Research) in Brussels. Meanwhile, down in Paris, the OECD’s Global Science Forum is sponsoring a variety of initiatives (and associated publications) that seek to “identify and maximise opportunities for international co-operation in basic scientific research” in OECD member countries.
Today’s entry is a very basic one: it simply provides links to some of the most recent reports that outline the nature and/or impact of international cooperation in research and development (R&D).
If any of you have recommendations for additional reports, especially those focused on non US and UK contexts, or fields (especially the humanities and social sciences) often absent from such reports, please let me know <firstname.lastname@example.org> and I will add them to the list.
It is worth noting that some reports focus on academic R&D, while others focus on other producers of R&D (primarily the private sector). Both foci are included as focused reports often include broad relevant data, because of the emerging global agenda to bring together universities and the private sector (via the foment of university-industry linkages, for good and for bad), and because we recognize that the proportion of R&D conducted by academics versus the private sector or non-profit labs varies across time and space (e.g., see one proxy measure – academic versus total national output of patents from 2003-2007 within 10+ countries – here).
I/we are very wary that this is but a start in compiling a comprehensive list. The geographies of these reports is hardly global, as well. This said, the globalizing aspects of these uneven research geographies are undoubtedly fascinating, and full of implications for the evolution of research agendas and practices in the future.
CREST (2008) Facing the Challenges of Globalisation: Approaches to a Proactive International Policy in S&T, Summary Report, Brussels, January.
Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills (2008) International Research Collaboration in UK Higher Education Institutions, DIUS Research Report 08 08, London.
European Commission (2008) Opening to the World: International Cooperation in Science and Technology, Report of the ERA Expert Group, Brussels, July.
Committee on International Collaborations in Social and Behavioral Sciences Research, U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Psychological Science, National Research Council (2008) International Collaborations in Behavioral and Social Sciences Research: Report of a Workshop, Washington, DC: National Academies.
National Science Board (2008) International Science and Engineering Partnerships: A Priority for U.S. Foreign Policy and Our Nation’s Innovation Enterprise, Washington, DC, February.
National Science Board (2008) Research and Development: Essential Foundation for U.S. Competitiveness in a Global Economy, Arlington, VA (NSB 08-03), January.
National Science Board (2008) National Science and Engineering Indicators 2008, Arlington, VA (NSB 08-01; NSB 08-01A), January
OECD (2008) The Internationalisation of Business R&D: Evidence, Impacts and Implications, Paris: OECD.
Universities UK (2008) International Research Collaboration: Opportunities for the UK Higher Education Sector, Research Report, London, May.
2007 and Earlier Reports
CREST Working Group (2007) Policy Approaches towards S&T Cooperation with Third Countries, Analytical Report, Brussels, December.
European Commission (2007) Europe in the Global Research Landscape, Brussels: European Commission.
Evidence, Ltd. (2007), Patterns of International Collaboration for the UK and Leading Partners, Summary Report, A report commissioned by the UK Office of Science and Innovation, London, June.
OECD (2007) OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2007: Innovation and Performance in the Global Economy, Paris: OECD.
UNCTAD (2005) World Investment Report 2005: Transnational Corporations and the Internationalization of R&D, New York and Geneva: United Nations.
The global higher education and research landscape is a fast changing one at this point in history. Amongst many indicators we have increasingly powerful players (e.g., Kaplan, Thomson Reuters), new interregional and global imaginaries starting to generate broad effects (e.g., via the global dimensions of the Bologna Process), a series of coordinated multi-university attempts to create action on what some stakeholders deem “global challenges” (e.g., see The Global Colloquium of University Presidents), and a recent US-based attempt to create ostensibly global higher education action for global development.
On this latter initiative, deemed the Higher Education Summit for Global Development, I can’t help but think that the cost to organize and operate such a ‘summit’ was significant when compared to the related announcement of “$1 million [644,000 euro] to fund 20 partnership-planning grants of $50,000 to plan long-term collaborations between African and U.S. institutions of higher education“. Money of that scale is characteristically snatched from a dormant account inside some department to produce a ‘deliverable’ and seems somewhat incommensurate (in material and symbolic terms) with the stated ambition of the event, even if it is just the marker of a new phase of action.
The pace of globally-framed higher education and research change was abundantly clear to me last week when I was in Brussels (pictured to the left) meeting with a wide variety of informed and creative stakeholders; stakeholders who are actively creating elements of this new global higher ed/research architecture. The combination of insight and resources was impressive, and another reminder of what happens when states focus on building intellectual infrastructure for the medium to long term.
In this context, today’s entry briefly profiles one new contribution to challenging dominant views on the status quo of thinking about aspects of the globalization of higher education and research, though from the other side of the Atlantic – in the USA.
This new report is a 2008 “companion report” to the 2007 collection, Perspectives on U.S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology, in which we flagged the Rand Corporation’s inclusion of one chapter by Jonathon Adams, a UK-based private consultant whose firm (Evidence Ltd) provides services in relation to the UK Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).
U.S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology presents findings that challenge notions of a slide in the dominance of the United States in the global science and technology landscape, especially with respect to research. In summary fashion, Rand notes:
Is the United States in danger of losing its competitive edge in science and technology (S&T)? This concern has been raised repeatedly since the end of the Cold War, most recently in a wave of reports in the mid-2000s suggesting that globalization and the growing strength of other nations in S&T, coupled with inadequate U.S. investments in research and education, threaten the United States’ position of leadership in S&T. Galama and Hosek [the Rand authors] examine these claims and contrast them with relevant data, including trends in research and development investment; information on the size, composition, and pay of the U.S. science and engineering workforce; and domestic and international education statistics. They find that the United States continues to lead the world in science and technology and has kept pace or grown faster than other nations on several measurements of S&T performance; that it generally benefits from the influx of foreign S&T students and workers; and that the United States will continue to benefit from the development of new technologies by other nations as long as it maintains the capability to acquire and implement such technologies. However, U.S. leadership in science and technology must not be taken for granted, and Galama and Hosek conclude with recommendations to strengthen the U.S. S&T enterprise, including measures to facilitate the immigration of highly skilled labor and improve the U.S. education system.
U.S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology is also noteworthy for it is produced by Rand for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), a relatively sprawling institution as is evident in this organizational diagram:
As the inside page to the report puts it:
The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in the RAND National Defense Research Institute [NDRI], a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Department of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community under Contract W74V8H-06-C-0002.
The logic of the OSD funding NDRI-produced research likely relates to the US defense establishment’s concern about emerging science and technology (and research) ‘footprints’ of powers like China, India, and Europe vis a vis intra-US capacities to educate, produce knowledge, and have this knowledge disseminated (and generate effects) at a range of scales and via a variety of channels. Yet the report also seeks to use data and analytical narratives to prick holes in the emerging taken-for-granted assumptions that the era of American hegemony, with respect to global knowledge production, is over. It reminds me, a little, of the informed testimony of Michael S. Teitelbaum, Vice President, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, on 6 November 2007 before the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives. Finally, the report is very clear in flagging the dependency of US science and technology capacity, and the US’ global research presence/impact, upon highly educated foreigners.
In an overall sense, then, U.S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology could be read as a detailed and insightful contribution to ongoing deliberations about the scale of US science and technology might, and an effort to reshape the contours of a critically important debate. I’m not sure if it could be classified as a contribution to thinking about “war by other means”, but rather as a reflection of a “new threat environment ” where thinking and analysis focuses on:
[h]ow and in what way do new challenges–from terrorists, insurgents, weapons of mass destruction, and the proliferation of technology–that the United States faces at home and abroad color America´s definition of and approach to national security? How will changes in the international economic, diplomatic, political, and alliance environments affect U.S. interests and capabilities? How will those changes and threats–from states, non–states, and other traditional and non–traditional sources– affect the United States´ ability to engage and project its power?
Regardless of the logics behind it, the report is thought provoking, laden with data and well designed graphic images, and is clearly written.
Finally, readership. I can imagine the current Secretary of Defense quite enjoying this read given that he was most recently President of Texas A&M University, and “also served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the American Council on Education” and “the Board of Directors of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges”. I am not as sure about the previous one, though. If he is still on the OSD mailing list perhaps he’ll be perusing the text for indicators of the declining health of “old Europe”!
29 June update: This letter to the Economist (26 June 2008) is worth reading:
SIR – Referring to the conclusions of a RAND report on research and development in science and technology, you claimed that fears that America is losing its competitive edge in innovation are “overblown” (“What crisis?”, June 14th). Your evidence is that “America has lots of sources of R&D spending: federal money accounted for only $86 billion of the $288 billion it spent on R&D in 2004” and that “spending on the life sciences is increasing rapidly, a reasonable bet on the future.” The important point to be made here is that the composition of American R&D has changed markedly over the years.
Federal support for basic research at universities in the physical sciences and engineering—the type of research most directly coupled to technological innovation—has withered relative to spending on research in the life sciences and R&D carried out by industry. The increase in privately financed product-development (often the D in R&D) and biomedical research are both good, but neglecting basic research investments of the type that gave us the internet, solid-state electronics and medical imaging is not a recipe for future success.
Given that it typically takes 15 years for new ideas dreamed up in the laboratory to become commercial, America may be losing the technology race even while seeming to remain on top. At the very least, America’s relative position in the world is slipping, which bodes ill for the future economic standing of the United States.
Semiconductor Industry Association
San Jose, California
The Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley, is one of the more active centres of its type in North America. They sponsor an excellent working paper series (e.g., see ‘Universities, the US High Tech Advantage, and the Process of Globalization’ by John Aubrey Douglass. CSHE.8.2008 (May 2008)), workshops, seminars, and so on.
This newly posted lecture series, that the CSHE organized, should be of interest to GlobalHigherEd‘s audience. The speaker is Donald Kennedy (pictured to the left), the current editor-in-chief of Science, and former president (1980-1992) of Stanford University, amongst many other titles and responsibilities. The Clark Kerr Lecture Series on the Role of Higher Education in Society has been running since 2001.
I will paste in the CSHE summary of the Kennedy lectures below. The first two lectures were given in November 2007, while the third (and final) lecture was given in March 2008. If you click on any of the three titles you will be brought through to the UCTV site where the recorded videos can be accessed. Kris Olds
Donald Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief, Science Magazine
In which President Roosevelt asks Vannevar Bush and others,-including may helpers and some revisionists, to transplant the federal governments apparatus for wartime science into the infrastructure for growth of research in the nation’s universities. The result is not what Bush originally hopes — a single Foundation responsible for all of the nation’s science — but it ushers in a period of extraordinary growth and transformation. Universities deal with the challenges of allocating and rebalancing new resources of unexpected scope, but the twenty days after war’s end resource growth flattens and new challenges appear: federal support brings more control, and a new generation has new questions about the value of science.
In which universities, having been partly weaned from federal support, are recognizing new sources of help. Their quest is assisted by a new concern from the government: the money being spent on basic research is producing more prizes then patents. Congress finds a solution: in the Bayh-Dole Amendments of 1980 it forswears collection on intellectual property rights resulting from university research it supports. The result is a dramatic growth in academic centers devoted to patenting and licensing faculty inventions. This brings in new money, accompanied by new challenges: should the university go into business with its faculty? Can it retain equity of treatment across disciplines. Perhaps most significant, had the enclosure of the Endless Frontier created economic property rights that will change the character not only of science but of academic life?
In which science and its university proprietors confront a new set of questions. Whether in the later phases of the Cold War or in the early phases of the Terror War, universities find themselves witnessing a replay of the old battle between science, which would prefer to have everything open, and security, which would like to have some of it secret. Struggles in the early 1980’s regarding application of arms control regulations to basic data resulted in some solutions that some hoped would be permanent. But after 9/11 a host of new issues surfaced. Not limited to arms control considerations, the new concerns included the publication of data or methods that might fall into the wrong hands. At the same time, science was confronting a different kind of security problem: instead of being employed to decide policy, science was being manipulated or kept secure in order to justify preferred policy outcomes.