« PreviousContinue »
faceted that we will meet the future by synthesizing of its elements rather than by fostering specialization. In other words, to accomplish the tasks ahead, we may need to reeducate ourselves to the notion that all of the professional specialties on which our society depends must be pooled if we are to succeed.
I would, therefore, urge attention to policies of the Federal Government that would foster this integration—as for example, the establishment of multidisciplinary research institutes, each focused on a social goal. We seriously lack this capability today, including the capability to develop along with new technology the steps of education and political action for successful injection of science and technology into society.
Scientists and policymakers must work under one roof. We have already seen what a short half-life an agency may have when its mission is oriented toward technique rather than function.
Mr. DADDARIO. Whom are you referring to there!
Dr. WENK. I am referring to the concerns that have been widely expressed over NASA's future role, Mr. Chairman. And I believe the same problems can be found in a number of other technologically based agencies. These are concerns which have been expressed by people far wiser than I, as to the manner in which Federal organizations established on a technique or technology rather than on a function-find science and technology moving so fast as compared to the social environment in which they exist that there is a fundamental difficulty in adjusting the organization to the pace of science itself.
Mr. DADDARIO. Do you think Dr. Wenk, that this committee should look at our whole way of producing knowledge and rather than tying as affirmatively as we have in the past our laboratories to mission agencies; that the laboratories ought to be maintained with a tremendous capability outside of these agencies to provide knowledge as they fit themselves into the pattern of our lives and to then be able to adjust themselves to the needs of society; and that this could be done by detaching the control from these knowledge producers and these laboratories rather than to continue the way we are? Is this what you have in mind?
Dr. WENK. Mr. Chairman, I think I would put strong emphasis on this vertical flow from the laboratories to the policy level in focusing on individual social goals. In other words, what I am saying is that the present location of research facilities in our agencies is not only a healthy way to assure conversion of their knowledge to agency requirements, but it may turn out to be the only way. As a consequence, I strongly support the conduct of research in the agencies or sponsorship by the agencies that have explicit social goals.
One problem in the present situation is that we have not developed this practice in our civilian agencies as well as we have in our military. This is reflected by many barometers. One is the level of funding itself. Another is the great difficulty of getting Federal support-public support-for science in areas like that of pollution, that you, Mr. Chairman and this committee called attention to many years ago.
And we could go right down a list of problems in the civilian area for which we need increased support of research, and also greater efforts to translate that new knowledge to practice. In many cases,
like that of pollution, which Mr. Lukens asked about, we may have knowledge sitting on the shelf and lack the capability to apply it. Therefore, Mr. Daddario, I would support quite strongly the view that research should be conducted in mission-oriented agencies.
Mr. DADDARIO. That is an extremely complicated question, which we need not go into at this time and which the committee has touched on in its National Laboratory hearings. There is no simple answer to it.
We have a quorum call which does give us a little bit of time.
I would like to ask one question, where on page 6 you said you also contend "that they have not been mutually reinforcing because we have lacked links of human communication and institutions to bind the two cultures."
Aren't our universities such institutions, and even though they have found themselves narrowly restricted, in my opinion, so far as disciplines are concerned? Don't we now see the institutions reacting so that we can tie together the sciences and the humanities, science and politics?
The Congress itself is one of those institutions.
Dr. Wenk. The Congress perhaps is the most successful of these. You put your finger right on the problem, Mr. Daddario. I do not believe the universities have succeeded. I do not believe that they have made very much progress in breaking down these watertight compartments between their own departments. I have talked with many people in the universities and spent a great deal of time there myself. The toughest job they have to do is to develop multidisciplinary institutes.
The traditions, administrative, and sociological forces in the universities today are all antagonistic to the multidisciplinary approach. The only job I know that is tougher than trying to make the departments in the university work together is making the agencies of the Federal Government work together.
Mr. Daddario. But don't you see the signs of activity in this particular
Dr. WENK. I see signs of activity, but not success. In my view, the Mr. DADDARIO. You must have activity before you have success,
I would expect.
Mr. MOSHER. Is it a popular concept? Is there a lot of talk, at least?
Dr. WENK. Yes, I think the talk is increasing, but I don't see that there has been much action, quite frankly-especially when it is measured against the scope of the problems. Let me just talk about my own profession of engineering. My colleagues heard me object to too parochial an approach of the profession probably 10 or 12 years ago. Í have looked at a list of complaints I cited against my profession then, and that same speech could be given today. A number of people in the engineering fraternity, particularly in education, are looking at the whole question of broadening the curriculum so as to include more time for humanities. The same questions are being asked today as were being asked 10 or 12 years ago, and the answers have not been found.
In the case of marine sciences, for example, we find the most challenging questions are those that involve not science alone, but science, engineering and law, public administration, business administration.
And fortunately, several universities have moved to establish multidisciplinary institutes. But these are now primary plans on paper. It is perhaps too soon to expect people to learn each other's language, be able to focus on a common problem and come up with a concerted solution. The direction is most favorable. The accomplishment is still inadequate.
Mr. DADDARIO. Well, this committee has supported the idea that the National Science Foundation ought to support multidisciplinary activity. My question here goes only to the idea that in our academic institutions there is this capability; whether it has been done poorly or not is not as important as the fact that it could be done in these places. In fact, it must be done.
Dr. WENK. I am reminded, Mr. Chairman, of some poet's statement about the uselessness of a “song unsung.” This is the way I would consider the situation in the university today. The potential is certainly there, because all of the knowledge needed exists in those pigeonholes. But there is very great difficulty pooling these talents in order to solve some of society's problems today. Moreover, the leaders in the universities have not had support by their own internal administrations; in fact they have found opposition by the chairmen of departments who have a long tradition of maintaining a healthy, strong department in one discipline but do not recognize the new additional feature that has to be superimposed on that.
This is not an either/or proposition, incidentally. It is adding the warp to the woof of knowledge, and this is a very simple way of say, ing something about our whole society today: At the same time that we find greater need for specialization because of the great expansion in knowledge, we need to find a way to synthesize this knowledge and provide some cross linkage. This is perhaps the most difficult problem we face.
Mr. DADDARIO. Dr. Wenk, the committee is going to have to take advantage of you and bring you back, because we still have part of your statement to hear. There are questions which this committee should ask you as one of the most important witnesses about the management and administration problems before us. We certainly cannot go into them in sufficient detail at the moment. As chairman of the committee I apologize to you for not having been able to put two witnesses before us this morning, and we would appreciate it if you would come back.
Dr. WENK. I would be pleased to come back, Mr. Chairman. You have a fascinating and very difficult challenge here, and it seems to me it is one that deserves the kind of time that you and your members are willing to invest in it. I would be pleased to come back.
Mr. DADDARIO. I appreciate it, Dr. Wenk.
This committee will adjourn until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning at this same place.
(Whereupon, at 12:21 p.m., the committee was adjourned to reconvene at 10 o'clock on Wednesday, July 23, 1969, in room 2325 of the Rayburn House Office Building.)
CENTRALIZATION OF FEDERAL SCIENCE ACTIVITIES
WEDNESDAY, JULY 23, 1969
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE AND ASTRONAUTICS, SUBCOMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, RESEARCH, AND DEVELOPMENT,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10:08 a.m., in room 2325, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Emilio Q. Daddario (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. Brown. The subcommittee will come to order in the expectation that Mr. Mosher will be here momentarily.
I would like to indicate for Mr. Daddario that he is unavoidably detained due to the funeral of a longtime friend this morning, and that he will be here as soon as possible. He has asked me to temporarily chair the meeting until he gets here.
Our first witness this morning will be Dr. Robert C. Seamans, Jr., Secretary of the Air Force, who is familiar to the committee in previous capacity with NASA. And we are very happy to welcome you here this morning, Dr. Seamans, and look forward to your testimony.
STATEMENT OF DR. ROBERT C. SEAMANS, JR., SECRETARY OF THE
AIR FORCE; ACCOMPANIED BY COL. WILLIAM BRUCE ARNOLD,
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. I appreciate the opportunity to appear today before you to discuss my views on the question of whether Federal science activities should be centralized.
As Congressman Daddario indicated in his letter of June 20, I was fortunate to have nearly a year as a member of the faculty at MIT following my NASA activities and prior to the assumption of new responsibilities as Secretary of the Air Force. My appointment at MIT provided an unusual opportunity to meet with students and faculty and to discuss with them new scientific, technical, and administrative developments. As the Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor, I held a chair that was established in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT in honor of the man; that is, Dr. Hunsaker, who was not only head of the department but also served with distinction as the Chairman of the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics, which eventually gave birth to NASA.