Science and Technology in Transition to the 21st Century

Science, technology, and economies are becoming
increasingly global. up

This is one of the major trends characterizing the transition into the 21st century. U.S. investments in science and technology (S&T) should be viewed in a global context. The United States and many other countries are investing in S&T capabilities, with both financial support and human resource development. Science & engineering (S&E) students and personnel are internationally mobile. Scientific and technological collaboration and alliances are increasing in both academia and industry. The most effective form of S&T transfer is "people embodied," but technological know-how is also transferred through direct investment, patenting activity, the sale of intellectual property, and trade in technology-embodied products. The following highlights demonstrate the globalization of science, engineering, technology, and the economy in terms of growth in worldwide S&T investments and increased international interactions.

"The force of scientific and technological innovation is helping to fuel and shape that new economy, but its impact goes beyond. These investments have surely paid off in higher paying jobs, better health care, stronger national security, and improved quality of life for all Americans. They are critical to America's ability to maintain our leadership in cutting-edge industries that will power the global economy of the new century."

President William J. Clinton

Many countries are investing in science and technology as a key economic strategy.

S&E education is increasing globally.

"Science and art belong to the whole world and before them vanish the barriers of nationality."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The S&T workforce is becoming more global.

"Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination."

John Dewey

Scientific publications are increasingly international in character.

Industrial firms are developing international alliances.

"The world is changing more quickly than ever. Each of us sees the speed and force of those changes around us every day, in ways we perceive as wondrous, elegant and profound -- even sometimes, a little overwhelming."

Richard N. Zare
National Science Board

Foreign patenting activity demonstrates the global nature of technology.

Trends in royalties and fees indicate global flows of technological know-how.

Foreign direct investments in R&D are increasing and demonstrate S&T globalization

"A nation which depends upon others for its basic scientific knowledge will be slow in its industrial progress and weak in its competitive position in world trade, regardless of its mechanical skill."

Vannevar Bush

International trade in technology products is another indicator of S&T globalization.

Many countries are emphasizing science, math, and engineering education as essential to achieving economic and societal goals both now and in the 21st century. up

There is an increasing realization of the importance of education and knowledge to economic growth. Such education is seen as important not only for researchers but also for a diverse, technologically literate workforce and for an educated and informed citizenry. Examining, updating, and improving the U.S. education system from K-12 through to graduate school is a major national priority as we enter the next century. Concerns have been expressed regarding the employment prospects of science and engineering graduates, and universities are examining ways to make graduate education broader, more flexible, and relevant to present and future economic demands. Current issues include the role of the Federal Government in funding graduate education, the further integration of research and education, and the importance of attracting and retaining students from all backgrounds into science and engineering fields. The following highlights provide some information on these topics.

"The path to any nation's scientific and technological capability is an early, strong, and continuous math and science education for each and every student. The earlier it begins and the longer it lasts, the better for the individual and the nation."

Neal Lane
National Science Foundation

Progress has been made in precollegiate math and science education, but more needs to be done-especially in mathematics.

"Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write."

H.G. Wells

Students often need remedial math and science preparation when entering higher education, but they are succeeding in getting S&E degrees at all levels.

"Ignorance is the night of the mind, a night without a moon or star."


"Perhaps the most profound discovery of the 20th century is the sudden confrontation with the depths of our ignorance."

Lewis Thomas

Increased attention is going to the extent to which research and education are integrated and the role of the Federal Government in supporting both R&D and graduate students.

"There is no higher or lower knowledge, but only one, flowing out of experimentation."

Leonardo da Vinci

"The value of achievement lies in the achieving."

Albert Einstein

Graduate education is being reexamined to determine its appropriateness for labor force needs in the future.

"In the highly competitive, knowledge-rich, information-intensive, global economy, every individual, no matter what gender, color of skin, or disability, must be provided the opportunity and indeed encouraged to pursue their interests and to develop their talents in science and technology whether it be as a career choice or to be able to exercise full citizenship in the technology and information age we have entered. Our nation can no longer afford to underinvest in their potential or to have science and technology-illiterate citizens in its democracy."

John Gibbons
Office of Science and Technology Policy

S&E human capital development in the United States continues to show significant unevenness across socioeconomic groups.

The nation's S&E enterprise is undergoing changes in structure and priorities as we prepare to enter the next century. up

Major changes are taking place in sector roles in the funding of research and development. The proportion of the Nation's R&D funds provided by the Federal Government has decreased, but the role of the Federal Government is still essential in the areas of basic research and education. Priorities are changing, with defense R&D decreasing in importance and life sciences and health receiving increased funding and attention. The industrial sector provides a majority and increasing share of national funding for research and development. This has implications for the character of activities supported because industrial R&D is primarily concentrated in development and applied research, rather than basic research. In many countries, direct funding is supplemented by R&D tax credits and other indirect mechanisms. Science and technology are increasingly linked, and the role of partnerships and alliances has increased between sectors, within sectors, and internationally. The service sector has a more important profile than in the past. Information technologies are an important driver for the economy and are making an economic and social impact that are just beginning to be understood.

"I spend money on war because it is necessary, but to spend it on science, that is pleasant to me."

George III

R&D funding patterns have changed substantially.

"Since the war years, both Congress and the different administrations have shared the conviction that support of research in the Nation's universities and industries represented an investment in the national future."

D. Allan Bromley
Former Director
Office of Science and Technology Policy

Growth in federal support of academic R&D
has slowed.

Links are increasing between industry
and academia.

"Further increases in the rate of international and intersectoral cooperation in science and engineering are not just desirable in the current environment, they are absolutely vital."

Joseph Bordogna
Acting Deputy Director
National Science Foundation

The largest increases in industrial R&D are occurring in the S&E-based industries.

New funding mechanisms are gaining in prominence.

Cooperative R&D is now an important tool in the development and leveraging of S&T resources.

"Once experienced, the expansion of personal intellectual power made available by the computer is not easily given up."

Sheila Widnall

The service sector has increased in prominence, and information technologies are believed to have contributed to the country's shift to a service economy.

"The more one observes, the more clearly does he see that it is in the soil of pure science that are found the origins of all our modern industry and commerce. In fact, our civilization is wholly built upon our scientific discoveries."

Herbert Hoover

Science and technology affect our daily lives in many ways. up

The results of science and engineering findings surround us at work and at home, but the social and economic effects are often difficult to quantify and analyze. Scientific and technological literacy are important. Science and technology skills are increasingly required in many jobs. There is an increased emphasis on accountability and the importance of public understanding and awareness of science and technology. The public should be able to understand the scientific process and be knowledgeable about science and technology discoveries in order to participate more adequately in policy discussions. The information revolution is upon us and is exceedingly difficult to track, let alone understand its myriad implications and effects-both positive and negative. As we go into the next century, it is hard to visualize how our lives will be changed.

"I cannot do it without counters."

William Shakespeare The Winter's Tale, IV, III

Use of information technology is increasing in the workplace, schools, and homes.

"If we fail to ensure that our children have the technological resources they need to compete in an ever-changing information economy, our nation will be poorer for it."

Vice President Albert Gore, Jr.

The issues of accountability and communication with the public are drawing increased emphasis.

"Public opinion is everything. With public sentiment nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed."

Abraham Lincoln

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