Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Chief Operating Officer
National Science Foundation
Awards for the Integration of Research and Education Education in the 21st Century
In 1997 and 1998 the 20 institutions featured in Reinvigorating
the Undergraduate Experience through Research and Inquiry-Based Learning received special
awards from the National Science Foundation for their success in integrating
research and undergraduate education. Their leadership and imagination have
provided us with new insights and strategies into the process of infusing
education with the excitement of research and discovery.
Their contributions are part of a broad effort to enhance educational
effectiveness, keeping pace with the acceleration of discovery
and innovation in science, engineering, and technology. In a rapidly
changing world, integrating research and education is increasingly
important to the nation's future economic and social prospects.
The integrative efforts of these institutions have assumed a prominent
place in NSF's strategic vision and become a touchstone for the
Foundation's investments. We are partners in the important work
of creating opportunity and capitalizing on new knowledge. Like
education itself, that work is both an investment and a never-ending
The National Science Foundation supports fundamental research
in science, mathematics, and engineering across all fields, and
math and science education at all levels. The funding actions NSF
takes in pursuit of its broad agenda respond to a founding question
for both the agency and the nation: "How do we increase our
scientific capital?" In his 1944-45 correspondence with Presidents
Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, Vannevar Bush offered a concise
"First, we must have plenty of men and women trained in science.
Second, we must strengthen the centers of fundamental research,
which are principally the colleges, universities, and research
institutions. The most important ways in which the Government can
promote industrial research are to increase the flow of new scientific
knowledge through support of basic research, and to aid in the
development of scientific talent."
NSF enables a diverse network of partnerships to help achieve
the nation's goals, recognizing that our academic partners are
the leaders who create, integrate, and transfer scientific knowledge.
At its very best, our higher education system serves as a creative "hothouse" that
supports continuous learning and contributes new knowledge across
many disciplines. It is now apparent that the integration of research
and education is an essential tool for maximizing scientific capital.
Success can take many forms, and the programs explored in this
volume offer useful models for integrating undergraduate research
and education -- from community research programs and peer mentoring,
to interdisciplinary thinking and science research for non-science
majors. The authors of these and many other strategies share a
commitment to discovery, curiosity, and inquiry, and a deep personal
investment in educational excellence.
NSF's statutory mandate is to promote progress in science and
engineering for the public good. The Foundation's vision advances
the nation's progress through discovery, learning, and innovation.
Our modus operandi is to support those activities that create,
integrate, and transfer science, engineering, and technological
knowledge. We emphasize fundamental investment on the frontiers
of science and engineering, where risks and rewards are high. We
anticipate that continuous improvements in educational effectiveness
will be necessary to sustain the nation's robust science and engineering
In our mission to strengthen scientific capital, we focus on three
strategic goals: people, ideas, and tools. We invest in people
to create a diverse, competitive, and globally-engaged U.S. workforce
of scientists, engineers, technologists, and well-prepared citizens.
We fund the most promising ideas to advance discovery in science
and engineering, and in learning and innovation to best serve society.
We invest in tools -- broadly accessible, state-of-the-art science
and engineering facilities and other infrastructure -- to promote
and facilitate that discovery, learning, and innovation.
The Foundation's infrastructure investments have guided transformative
technical advances and opened new frontiers, such as terrascale
computing and nanoscale capabilities. As the lead agency in the
National Nanotechnology Initiative, NSF is expanding fundamental
research in this revolutionary field. The explorations will focus
on new materials and on biological systems at the nanoscale to
exploit new possibilities in materials and manufacturing, medicine,
environment and energy, and national security. The Foundation is
also expanding its cyberinfrastructure investments to bring next-generation
computer and networking capabilities to researchers and educators
As these vistas come into focus, they raise new questions about
the direction of our society. How can we sustain our accelerating
rate of discovery? How can we prepare new generations to capitalize
on emerging opportunities? In meeting its people goal, NSF is expanding
Vannevar Bush's objective of having "plenty of men and women
trained in science" by making a priority investment in the
Workforce for the 21st Century.
The nation's economic viability, capacity for security, and overall
quality of life depend on a general workforce that is scientifically
and technologically literate and a science and engineering professional
workforce that is world class at all levels. Our educational system
has been and continues to be effective at the collegiate level
and attracts students from around the world. At the same time,
many K-12 graduates are ill-prepared to respond to the demands
of today's world; fewer U.S. citizens choose to pursue science
and engineering careers; and fewer than half of those who do choose
these career paths graduate, putting the nation's economy and security
This softening of the nation's capacity to perform is exacerbated
by slow progress in attracting and advancing underrepresented minorities,
women, and persons with disabilities to careers in science and
engineering. We must address these issues with both passion and
strategic investment. It is unrealistic to imagine that the United
States can persist in sustaining its freedom without long-term
dedication to resolving this workforce conundrum. In the words
of James Madison, "What spectacle can be more edifying or
more seasonable than that of liberty and learning, each leaning
on the other for their mutual and surest support?"
NSF has designed its Workforce for the 21st
to capitalize on the Foundation's experience with a variety of
programmatic investments over the years. Our goals are to replicate
the most effective programs, to apply the latest research findings
bearing on science, engineering, mathematics, and technology learning,
and to broaden participation. The goal is to create a highly synergistic
and interconnected enterprise with the active involvement of researchers
and educators at all levels and from every science and engineering
It is important to understand why more U.S. students are not choosing
to pursue science and engineering programs. We must ensure that
our youngsters have the skills needed to thrive in a competitive
global economy driven by innovation and rapid technological change.
One fundamental strategy is to better prepare K-12 teachers and
higher education faculty to inspire and challenge their students.
This instructional workforce must have effective materials, training,
and methods to promote and assess learners. In addition, we need
to strengthen the connections among elementary, middle, and high
school and the transition to postsecondary education for a seamless
K-12 experience for all students.
Demands are increasing for a holistic breed of scientists and
engineers -- graduates with the skill to work across intellectual,
social, and cultural boundaries. This integrative capability is
key to successful performance in an increasingly diverse and complex
international work environment. Our science and engineering education
must go beyond the best to also address the new global realities.
That's how it is and how it should be. Increasing expectations
are a healthy sign that our core values have not changed. Parents,
employers, and educators have common interests - to equip our youngsters
with the skills they need to thrive and to provide our society
with the wherewithal to understand and solve its problems and capitalize
on its opportunities. Education plays a vital role in realizing
our common purpose, now more integrated within a global context.
We can already see some of what is ahead for academe in the not
too distant future. When we contrast the emerging educational archetype
with its traditional counterpart, we find distinct transitions
occurring. The traditional campus-centric model of the university
is becoming a global enterprise with many new partnerships. New
industry-university alliances have taken root in the fertile soil
at the frontier of knowledge. The building-block courses of department-based
education are changing into a holistic, topic-based curriculum.
A different kind of university is evolving, a creative center that
provides boundary-crossing experiences for all of its students
and consistently integrates emerging research and education.
This brings us to the complex frontier of cognition. Cognition
encompasses a panoply of individual human competencies -- acquiring
knowledge, solving problems, making decisions, communicating, and
creating, among others. A rich knowledge base about how we learn
is being developed jointly by linguists, psychologists, philosophers,
computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians, neuroscientists,
The scope of this capability takes us to new territories. Cognition
illuminates the full gamut of human and social dynamics that characterize
our institutions at all levels of complexity. We already speak
of "learning organizations" in this context. We are now
beginning to anticipate how the science of
learning may revise
our design of science and engineering education -- by enhancing
our understanding of individual learning styles, how the brain
stores and accesses information, and how to best use new information
technology to promote learning.
Consequently, NSF recently announced a competition to create Science
of Learning Centers. Knowledge gleaned from these centers will
open up frontiers of complexity and create a new space of opportunity
-- a place for educators, scientists, and engineers to make a marriage
of seemingly disparate ideas. This new understanding will allow
us to explore interdependencies on vastly broader scales and across
traditional boundaries. It will provide a window on the heart of
change in all its myriad forms.
Closely linked to our evolving complexity is holism. If complexity
enables us to understand broader connections, holism teaches us
that combinations of things have a power and capability greater
than the sum of their separate parts. It spurs the search for new
synergies and enables us to investigate and anticipate structures
The hallmark of these new capabilities is their potential to transform.
They help to connect, recompose, and expand core science and engineering
disciplines. Each is nothing short of revolutionary, but in combination
they are truly breathtaking in scope. They enable us to find solutions
in unlikely places. One of the super chargers of our current age
of cross-boundary discovery is the ability it gives us to shift
from one context to another with agility, borrowing concepts and
models along the way.
Through the science of learning we will gain a new cognitive capability
to help us integrate the human and social dimension with our engineering
and science knowledge base. The connections among complexity, holism,
cognition, and teamwork will expand individuals' intellectual reach
and capacity to make novel contributions to the nation's scientific
capital. As we integrate these new capabilities into science and
engineering education, they will transform the very nature of learning
environments, raising education to a higher level of excellence.
As we set out to revolutionize science and engineering education,
there will be some disconcerting moments when our vision of the
end is not crystal clear, but the need to move forward is compelling.
At such times, we may need to encourage ourselves to embrace
Accepting ambiguity gives us tremendous power and flexibility.
We can move ahead without knowing precisely where we are going,
while making subtle course corrections along the way. And we can
take advantage of entirely new developments and points-of-view
to enrich and broaden our vision.
The "embracing" part of embracing ambiguity implies
that we can learn to recognize those new contexts in which greater
definition may close doors prematurely on future options. There
are times when working on parallel tracks provides the space necessary
for innovation until it is ripe for integration.
In Mission of the University (1930), José Ortega y Gassett
foresaw the need for synthesis and integration as a function of
academe. He wrote:
"The need to create sound synthesis and systemization of
knowledge…will call out a kind of scientific genius which
hitherto has existed only as an aberration: the genius for integration.
Of necessity this means specialization, as all creative effort
does, but this time the [person] will be specializing in the construction
of the whole."
The models of success created by the RAIRE and AIRE awardees are
part of the leading edge of transformative change in 21st century
academe. The unfinished work ahead of us -- to fully integrate
research and education in every discipline, for all learners, at
every level -- will be one of our greatest gifts to the future.
Return to a list of Dr. Bordogna's speeches.