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In various conversations I have had since returning to the academic world from my time in Washington, I have been asked a number of questions about how the U.S. government handles matters of science and technology: Why isn’t there a more rational approach to setting research budgets? Why don’t federal agencies work more closely together? Do the president and members of Congress understand how important science and technology are to the nation? Does the president listen to his science advisor? Should the U.S. establish a cabinet-level Department of Science and Technology? One could summarize these and many other such questions with one: Why doesn’t the U.S. have a science policy? But that begs another question: would anyone pay attention to it if we did? The first question does have an answer, at least a historical one, which William Blanpied discusses in detail in this excellent book. The second question is a matter of opinion; and each of us—as readers of this detailed recounting of the experiences of science advisors to presidents over the last six decades or so—may form our own view.

The objective of this book is to trace the evolution of efforts to formulate and implement a coherent national science policy in the United States from the pre-WW-II years of the Roosevelt administration through the first months of the Obama administration and to describe how science advisors to presidents have coped in the absence of a national policy. The author also provides some earlier historical background and makes some observations on the Obama Administration’s handling of science policy so far. Some U.S. presidents, most recently Presidents G.H.W. Bush and Clinton, have issued policy papers describing their administrations’ strategies and objectives in science and technology. President Obama has issued his “Innovation Policy,” which has science and technology at its foundation. But unless such policy statements are agreed to by Congress and written into federal law, they do not have the standing of a national science policy. Other nations have adopted science policies and reviewed and modified them from time to time to meet changing circumstances. The failure of the U.S. to do so reflects, to some extent, our nation’s unique form of representational democracy and various public attitudes and political factors that influence policy-making in this country. The author tells the American science-policy story in this larger context and provides examples of debates in U.S. history between those who believe that the expert opinions of scientists, especially social scientists, should be given special weight in policy debates and those who feel that the American people know best.

There are a number of tensions in play that make it difficult to set science policy on many levels. One such tension is between what the legendary science policy scholar, Harvey Brooks, called “policy for science,” viz., federal budgets, regulations affecting research, and other federal policies that directly affect research activity; and “science for policy,” viz., the larger realm of public policy—e.g., in health, natural security, energy, environment, the economy, etc., where science and technology play an important role. Of course there is considerable overlap between these two categorizations; in part, it is ambiguities in the overlap that complicate policy-making. Tension arises when researchers in a particular field argue for increased research funding at the same time they are advocating a particular set of policies that involve factors other than science, e.g., a reduction in carbon emissions, or where the available scientific information is sparse, e.g., the regulation of nanomaterials in the environment. Even in the first category, “policy for science,” there are tensions in funding priorities between different fields; between large centers, institutes and experimental facilities vs. individual investigators and small groups; between fundamental research and “directed” research, where progress toward specific objectives is measured; between peer review and Congressional “pork barrel” projects; between unfettered investigation and constrained research, e.g., embryonic stem cell research; and many others. To be sure, some of these tensions could be lessened and, perhaps, removed by having an overarching U.S. national science policy. At the same time, their existence can help explain why the nation has, so far, been unable to establish such a policy.

Questions & Answers

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
is this allso about nanoscale material
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where is the latest information on a no technology how can I find it
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, A history of federal science policy from the new deal to the present. OpenStax CNX. Jun 26, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11210/1.2
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