Science and the US university: video lecture series by editor-in-chief of Science and former (1980-92) Stanford University president

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


Clark Kerr Lecture Series on the Role of Higher Education in Society sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation and the Center for Studies in Higher Education

Donald Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief, Science Magazine

Science and the University: An Evolutionary Tale, Part 1: The Endless Frontier

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.

Science and the University: An Evolutionary Tale, Part 2: Bayh-Dole and Enclosing the Frontier

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?

Science and the University: An Evolutionary Tale, Part 3: Science, Security, and Control

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.

‘The race to the top’: UK government acts on the Sainsbury Review and pledges £1bn boost for innovation

The race is on and the UK’s sights are set to making it to the top! At least this is Lord Sainsbury’s message in the long awaited report to the UK government at the end of last week. As he said:

We should seek to compete with emerging economies in a ‘race to the top’ rather than ‘a race to the bottom’.

The Race to the Top: A Review of Government’s Science and Innovation Policies examines the role of science and technology in ensuring that the UK not only remains globally competitive, but that it learns to run faster.


The UK government’s response was to announce its intention to invest £1 billion into programmes to boost business innovation and applied research over the next three years. This programme will be led by the Technology Strategy Board, set up in 2004.

One focus of the Government’s new Innovation Programme which is of interest to universities will be to give more support through the Higher Education Innovation Fund to business-facing universities, setting targets for knowledge transfer from Research Councils, doubling the number of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, and extending these to Further Education Colleges.


Universities are located in the services sector in this kind of analysis – and governments are increasingly interested in what value they can add in this race to the top. Lord Sainsbury is also optimistic:

The UK is well placed to take advantage of the new markets opened up by globalisation. We have an extraordinary record of scientific discovery and a rapidly growing share of high technology manufacturing and knowledge intensive services in the UK’s GDP. The amount of knowledge transfer from British universities has increased significantly and we are beginning to see the growth of exciting high technology clusters around many of our world-class research universities.

Media reactions to the Sainsbury Review can be tracked here, while reactions in the blogosphere can be tracked here.

GlobalHigherEd has been carrying a number of stories on universities and innovation. We also note today an announcement in the Guardian that the ESRC are funding a three year £3 million study led by Ursula Kelly at the University of Strathclyde on universities and regional systems of innovation.

These developments will present universities with interesting challenges, not least because many academics see such close links to the economy as distorting the overall function of the university. That aside, the challenge also facing the UK is that the others seriously in the race, particularly US based firms, are investing even more heavily in R & D according to the EC’s innovation scoreboard of the 1,000 companies. So, while the race is on, getting to the top is also going to be tough.

Susan Robertson