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The relationship of Government and the universities through research agreements is always a proper subject for examination in a free society. Here again, I want to make it clear that my own mind is not fully formed. I begin with the stipulation that in the social sciences the Government is engaged in highrisk research no less than with the more exact sciences. Government finds itself in a lot of trouble as it faces up to “people” problems and it is being forced by social criticism to think up and apply solutions based on very imperfect knowledge of the complex forces that it seeks to influence and change. Government's mistakes and misfirings in the social arena are not forgiven or forgotten nearly as readily as is the case with airplanes that won't fly or with rockets that abort. These are the realities. Now, when a Government agency nervously works itself up to the point of deciding to sponsor social science research, it has understandable impulses to stay out of trouble, sensing that retribution is likely to be swift and possibly disastrous. It is not helpful when academic social scientists lay down ultimatums against any and all conditions in research contracts and grants, any more than Government is justified in inflicting unilateral restraints and obligations in an excess of diligence.
The fact is that Government agencies are accountable and they cannot divest themselves of responsibility for what is done with research funds. I do not think this is an excuse for unreasonably limiting the freedom of the academic scientist, but the question ought to be on what is “reasonable.” Categorical absolutes and pamphleteering are not very helpful, in my opinion. Government has no conspiratorial strategy to manipulate social science research, and it is prepared to go far toward cutting the strings that materially encroach on responsible academic freedom. What I think Government asks is that academic researchers not pick up their sleds and go home mad, but that they negotiate the areas of difference and tension in the common interests of getting on with the work that we have to do.
On this benign September afternoon the quarrels and divisions that have overtaken us seem a little remote and unreal, even though we know better. At times like this we look for meanings to give us courage and faith in our capacities to right what has gone wrong. Perhaps the qualities that can do that are compassion and honesty. I think, at such times, of Lincoln's letter to Hooker giving him the military command, and if I still have a few minutes I'd like to share it with you. He wrote as follows: "To Major General Hooker: “General:
“I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what appear to me to be sufficient reasons. And yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and skillful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable if not indispensable quality. You are ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm. But I think that during General Burnside's command of the Army, you have taken counsel of your ambition, and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong to the country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother officer.
"I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the Army and the Government needed a dictator. Of course, it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes can set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship.
“I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse into the Army, of criticizing their Commander, and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you, as far as I can, to put it down. Neither you, nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army while such a spirit prevails in it.
“And now, beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but with energy, and sleepless vigilance, go forward, and give us victories."
RETHINKING OUR SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES
By Dr. Jerome B. Wiesner, Provost, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
An address delivered at the dedication of the Technical Information Center of Celanese Research Company, Summit, New Jersey, September 26, 1968.
I am happy to be able to participate in the dedication of the Celanese Technical Information Center. We are always particularly pleased to celebrate the creation of a new enterprise that is dedicated to the pursuit and dissemination of knowledge. This is not surprising, for there is something very special about classrooms and laboratories: They are the gateways to the future.
The industrial laboratory, the university laboratory, and the government laboratory have each played a vital role in the creation of our American technological society. The interplay between these three has made possible the continuing growth of our industry and our agriculture, improved our health, and insured the security of our nation. Clearly their role will continue to be important in the decades ahead, for never in our nation's entire history have we been confronted with more problems for which new technologies would appear to offer the most promising hope of solution.
An effective technical information center is an essential part of any modern research and development enterprise, for the steady advance of technology is accompanied by a flood of information so great that, unaided, the individual scientist or engineer cannot hope to assimilate all that is relevant to his work. The problem upon which I am going to focus this address, planning in our society, is a closely related information field.
We have many problems in our society—poverty, hunger, deterioration of the cities, pollution of the air and water, threats of war-and for each of these we see possibilities of technological assistance. However, if we pause and ask how well we are doing, how fast we are progressing toward solution of these most difficult problems, or even if we ask how effectively we are using our scientific and technological resources in the search for a solution to these problems, we are not very pleased with the answers. This doesn't mean that one can't find a great deal of exciting research and development, but rather that there are some very serious gaps in the programs.
Some important areas have never been properly managed or supported, particularly in those applied programs directed at finding solutions to our great social problems and in the basic research activities designed to support them. In this category I would include research in the behavioral and social sciences, research related to the environment, and activities related to the urban setting.
A STATE OF DISARRAY
Actually, most fields of R & D are presently in real trouble. It is probably not an overstatement to say that the scientific establishment of the nation is in a state of disarray. In fact, there has been no time in the post-World War II period when the situation looked as bleak, nor have our scientists felt more discouraged. Research budgets at universities and at most national centers are being drastically cut; a substantial number of the Federal fellowships which have played so important a part in the education of new scientists and engineers have been eliminated; and essential research facilities are being deferred.
Actions already taken will weaken the fabric of the American scientific establishment for many years to come. Many scientists fear that our leadership in important areas of basic and applied research is passing to Europe and Japan. Among the fields where this may be happening is high-energy nuclear physics,
some areas of metallurgy, some areas of solid-state physics, astronomy, and many specialized instrumentation fields such as high-resolution electron microscopes. If this attrition in the American leadership of science and technology continues, I think it will have disastrous effects on our entire society.
THE BASIC PROBLEM Are these difficulties merely a reflection of Federal fiscal problems which will pass if the Vietnam war is ended? I think not. I fear that the problem is more basic
The scientific establishment of the country is facing these severe, unsettling effects as a result of changing national interests, as well as the mounting government expenditures arising from the Vietnam war and the crisis in our cities. The difficulty has been made even more acute by a growing unwillingness on the part of some members of Congress to support university-based research through the Department of Defense. This exists because some legislators, resenting the anti-war attitudes prevalent on many campuses, have used cuts in research budgets as a way of expressing their dissatisfaction with campus activities; and, ironically, others have tried to reduce Defense Department academic research because they fear that DOD money is corrupting the universities.
Unfortunately, the impact of the anti-university and anti-science sentiment in the Congress is not restricted to programs sponsored by the Department of Defense. The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the space agency, as well as many other agencies that sponsor R & D activities, have had their research support cut more severely than other parts of their budgets. The nation is planning to spend an additional twenty billion dollars on highway programs while three hundred million dollars is being squeezed out for research support.
A SOUND STRATEGY FOR SCIENCE
Much of this difficulty arises, I believe, because we do not have a sound strategy for science. Most of the R & D support of the past 20 years has been based on Cold War incentives—that is, military requirements and the space race. Less than two billion dollars of the approximately fifteen billion spent on research and development by the Federal government in 1967 was undertaken to support other goals, and more than half of this remainder was for health-related activities.
It has been our nation's good fortune that most of the fundamental research supported for security and space reasons was generally useful. Even most of the exploratory research and some of the specific equipment developments undertaken for these special reasons have had a much more general utility. The transistor, the high-speed computer, the jet aircraft, and the communication satellite are but four of the many examples of the developments that evolved from defense or space work.
But this pattern of support has resulted in a seriously lopsided research program. For example, the fields of chemistry and the social sciences have been regularly underfunded. The National Science Foundation, the agency that should have corrected these imbalances, has never been supported adequately. Those few Federal programs that have been created to help, understand, and cope with the great social and technological problems of our times are not very well conceived or very well managed. The pollution control program, for example, is too gadget-oriented, too short range, and lacks an adequate exploratory research base on which to build a sounder effort. The programs oriented to the many tough problems of the cities are similarly deficient. This difficulty arises, I suspect, because the agencies responsible for the related action programs are under great pressure to get quick results. What is more, they too are underfunded and, additionally, have not tradition research support to guide their efforts.
TOWARD A DECENT SOCIETY
Regardless of the current mood and attitudes, progress toward a decent society in the future will continue to depend upon a strong scientific program and its related educational activities, and so we must seek ways to remedy the present situation.
Given the present antagonisms and the considerable skepticism about the value of continued high-level research and development activities, I have con
cluded that the only solution is to reorganize and strengthen the Federal mechanisms for planning and supporting research and development.
Dr. Donald Hornig, the President's Science Adviser, also is considering such possibilities for he talked about the creation of a Department of Science in a recent speech to the American Chemical Society.
In the past, those of us who have studied the problems of science policy generally concluded that the more diffuse multiagency arrangements currently employed serve the nation better than would a single Department of Science, into which were consolidated all Federal research and development activities. I still feel that a single agency with the responsibility for all Federal activities would be a poor arrangement. In fact, I believe it would be a mistake even to concentrate the responsibility for all basic research in a single agency. But given the present situation, one which I am certan will persist unless we have another major military confrontation, we must create more effective mechanisms for planning and managing the government's scientific activities.
The reasons for supporting scientific activities have been repeated so often that they have begun to sound like clichés. Nonetheless, I don't believe we can escape the fact that a continued high level of research and development is essential for many vital national purposes.
THE KEYS TO THE FUTURE
Basic science and technology remains the keys to the future. For without them, we will not solve the innumerable national and international problems which challenge our well-being and the peace of the world. The rapid solution of the urgent problems of urban and community redevelopment, mass transportation, the creation of new industry, the implementation of effective disarmament—all require highly technical information. Effective population control, food production, maintenance and improvement of health, elimination of air and water pollution—problems which threaten our very existence--demand the broad application of biological and chemical skills.
Even though for the moment the military technologies have matured, we cannot write off the need to maintain a strong military research and development program. It is clearly prudent to maintain a sufficiently high level of military research and development to insure that we will not suddenly be confronted by a decisive new technology in the hands of a potential enemy. Furthermore, the only basis on which it is possible to judge someone else's claims for a new military development is on the basis of knowledge obtained through onr own research and development activities.
Only because of our own efforts to develop an effective anti-ballistic defense system are we in a position to make a reasonable evaluation of the Soviet system—an evaluation, incidentally, that allows us to be quite certain that the Soviet system will be almost totally ineffective against the sophisticated American missiles. Unfortunately, up to now the reaction to the lessening of suspicions and tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union has not been to stop the large-scale development of weapons, but rather to slow down the research effort to provide the basic knowledge which would make us strong in the future.
The United States long ago launched on a course of creating a decent society: a society that provided both for the material and psychic needs of all of its citizens; a society that provided a rewarding and challenging opportunity for all of its members; a society that was committed to preserving its physical beauty and its resources for future generations; and a society that was committed to freedom and justice for all. I think the present turmoil at home and abroad should be regarded as part of the movement towards those goals rather than as reason for despair. Our national resolve should be to strive hard for them. As engineers and scientists, as teachers and entrepreneurs in scientific fields, we have a key role to play in moving the world ahead as well as providing for our security. It is this fact which is inadequately appreciated.
The solution of many problems requires, as I have already implied, a greater knowledge of individual and group behavior, research in areas to which too little attention has been paid. They also require new techniques in the natural and social sciences whose creation depends on a continuing flow of new knowledge, and the continuing availability of large numbers of young, well-educated research scientists, engineers, and technologists. Such solutions will also provide the basis for new industries that will employ our growing population and enrich our economy.
TO REMAIN A VITAL XATION
We need a recommitment to an aggressive, vital scientific program a rededication motivated by the true need of our society, the need to be continuously inventing our future if we are to remain a vital nation.
There is today no effective process by which our nation can really focus on its problems and needs. There is no single entity of government that even has the responsibility for planning and monitoring the broad range of R & D activities that are required to support the national goals. No wonder there is so little understanding of the purposes of the country's research efforts.
The Office of Science and Technology, which I once headed, attempts to identify and coordinate important areas of R & D and to give some balance to the national effort. It succeeds to a certain degree in this effort. But since it is not an operating agency it can neither support the programs adequately before the Congress nor insure their quality after they are initiated. The National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering have provided much of the long-range guidance that has been available for science planning, and this work has been of very great value, but neither continuous enough nor broad enough in scope.
Incidentally, there now exists a focal point in the Congress for reviewing science programs. The House Science and Astronautics Committee has been developing the capability to review and integrate the Federal R & D effort for the Congress. Through the efforts of Congressmen George P. Miller (Dem., Calif.) and Emilio Q. Daddario (Dem., Conn.] we have seen a major improvement in the congressional aspect of Federal R & D management.
The most important single need in our nation is to develop a more rational process for forecasting social trends and for developing plans to deal with the problems and needs that are identified. While this process would include planning for R & D, it should extend considerably beyond this to indicate resource allocation for all public endeavors. Dr. Hornig's proposed new agency, a Department of Science if you will, could be given the responsibility for these programs as well, though it might be more effective to create a national resources planning council to carry out this function.
It would seem quite appropriate to use the National Science Foundation as the core for a new R & D agency. In addition to its present responsibilities, it should be given a responsibility for basic and exploratory research in the environmental and urban areas, in education, and in other fields that are currently inadequately supported, paralleling the more mission-oriented activities that are now undertaken by specific agencies.
A STRONG MANDATE
The new agency should be given a strong mandate to stress the development of the social and human sciences and the technology needed to do the forecasting and resource allocation studies that I mentioned earlier. It might also have the responsibility for developing an analysis and forecasting system, and possibly operating it, to support the executive and legislative branches of the government.
I would also consider as a possibility the transfer of the responsibility for the support of high education from the Office of Education to the new agency, so that one agency of the government would be concerned with all of the many aspects of Federal assistance to universities—including facilities grants, support of special educational activities, student assistance, and the sponsorship of academic research.
The four responsibilities that I propose for the new agency—the sponsorship of programs of fundamental and applied science, the sharing with other governmental agencies of support of exploratory research related to the numerous governmental missions, the forecasting and resource allocation planning efforts, and the support of the nation's universities-are closely related and should all profit from inclusion within a single entity. Only by an arrangement of this nature which constantly reminds us of the tasks ahead will we succeed in reestablishing a proper national priority for science, and thus insure that the scientific and technical capabilities of the nation are adequate and properly focused.