Chapter 1:

Science and Technology in Times of Transition: the 1940s and 1990s

Current Emerging Themes

As discussed in "A Program for the National Science Foundation," the NSB determined during its first year that one of its major responsibilities would be to ensure that the condition of the U.S. (and global) science and technology enterprise would be monitored. Since 1972, its Indicators reports have been the most visible manifestation of that determination. The NSB published a strategic plan in November 1998 that emphasized its commitment to Science and Engineering Indicators as an instrument for assessing the overall health of the enterprise and for providing a robust basis for decisionmaking in national science and engineering policy, as well as its determination to continually improve this instrument to serve these objectives (NSB 1998c). These reports have also provided the Board with opportunities to point to both emerging themes and to emphasize transmutations in the more traditional themes that began to be evident 50 years ago.

Among the emerging themes that the Board has identified (NSB 1998c) as important in the first decade of the 21st century are:

Plans to address these themes are laid out in the NSB Strategic Plan (NSB 1998c). Additionally, several of these themes have been addressed by previous NSB Statements and Occasional Papers; for example:

The Board plans to issue additional occasional papers on several of these issues during the next few years.

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