The Next 75 Years of Science Policy

In this special section, we will be publishing dozens of ambitious, challenging, and innovative proposals on how to structure the resources of science to enable the best possible future. Contributors will include everyone from recognized global leaders to early career researchers, policymakers, businesspeople, and our readers, creating a forum for the exchange of ideas about reinvigorating the scientific enterprise. 

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter

Collaborative Advantage

Creating Global Commons for Science, Technology, and Innovation

The United States remains the global leader in science and technology, but other nations are beginning to stand alongside it—generating palpable anxiety about America’s standing in the world. Although not all the policies proposed to reinvigorate American innovation are inherently techno-nationalist, often the ways in which they are justified and framed are based on notions of outcompeting other nations. Abandoning this techno-nationalist approach and instead investing in systems of global innovation commons and developing new principles and policies for collaborative science, technology, and innovation could bring substantially greater benefits. Read More

US Science Policy

Collaborate for the Future

If policymakers are to achieve the goal of sustainable well-being in the United States, US science policy needs to shift from competition and toward collaboration. Many of the systems in which the United States is embedded globally are science- and technology-intensive. In considering the options for the next 75 years of science policy, it is thus appropriate to ask how the United States depends on those systems and how it can maintain domestic well-being through cooperation within these systems. An assessment of the current system configuration and global circumstances yields insight into trends the United States can influence—and those it cannot—with its domestic science policy.Read More

Humanizing Science

Humanizing Science and Engineering for the Twenty-First Century

Solving complex problems is never a purely technical or scientific matter. Interdisciplinary awareness is essential to ensure that taxpayer-funded policy and research are efficient and equitable and are accountable to citizens at large.Read More

STEMM Education

Making Scientific and Technical Careers More Accessible

Science and medicine have not traditionally been welcoming for people with disabilities. Here’s how to make them more inclusive—and bring greater creativity, new perspectives, and fresh talent to these fields.Read More

Cloud Innovation

Architectures of Participation

How collaborative open-source software development increased the velocity of problem-solving in cloud computing—and what that suggests for innovation policy.Read More

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The Limiting Factor of “The Endless Frontier” Is Still a Human One

In science policy circles, making science more inclusive and diverse has not received the attention it urgently needs. To remain a leader in innovation, the United States must diversify its science, engineering, and technology workforce.Read More

A New Model for Philanthropy

Changing the Business of Breakthroughs

A new worldwide network of scientists and engineers is demonstrating how philanthropy can leverage a highly effective innovation model to solve urgent global problemsRead More

Engineering Ethics

Creating a New Moral Imagination for Engineering

Engineers sometimes seem so interested in answering questions of technical feasibility that they may overlook questions of purpose or ulterior motive. From lifesaving vaccines to weapons of mass destruction, engineers often appear willing to enable any enterprise for the right price. How might engineering become better aligned with sustainability, justice, peace, and human rights?Read More

Workers and Technology

Stories to Work By

Many policymakers assume that increasing technological progress inevitably means that ordinary workers will lose. This view perpetuates itself when policies that could give workers more power in times of technological change are overlooked, while those that disempower workers are adopted. We need to understand how this narrative about workers and technology functions, where it is misleading, and how deliberate policies can build a better world for all.Read More

Research Funders

A Global Movement for Engaged Research

Philanthropic organizations have a special role to play in setting bold new expectations for a research enterprise that works in direct dialogue with the rest of society.Read More

Open Science

Opening Up to Open Science

More inclusive open science can help solve society’s most pressing problems—and at a faster pace—but making it mainstream requires systemic institutional change.Read More

Geopolitical Competition

Democracies Must Coordinate Industrial Policies to Rebuild Economic Security

The United States can control its technological future only by working with other liberal democracies to reduce shared risks and vulnerabilities.Read More

Independent Research

Independent Science for a Daunting Future

Independent research institutions must find new ways to adjust their historic strengths to the needs of a changing world if they are to retain their position and expand their influence in the research ecosystem.Read More

Engineering as a Calling

Democratizing Engineering for Every High School Student

Although the United States attracts a large number of foreign STEM students to bolster its economic and technological competitiveness, the nation’s current STEM shortages within research, development, and innovation communities cannot be addressed solely by attracting more global talent. More must be done to increase and train the domestic workforce of scientists—especially engineers. Could making engineering a required class for all high school students be the solution?Read More

Practice-Focused Innovation

A More Effective Innovation Practice

The nation’s students and young researchers need more—and better—places to practice the concepts they are learning about in order to become true innovators. Practice is not merely additional work, but the sort of work that extracts practical uses from new scientific insights, particularly technological applications and their commercialization. Practice thus entails transdisciplinary collaboration and knowledge integration to develop multiple proofs-of-concept into commercially viable products.Read More

The Culture of Science

Building a Just and Fair Scientific Enterprise

The scientific community has long discussed the need to go beyond the narrow definition of science as the pursuit and application of knowledge to solve technical problems in order to support the idea that science must start and end with people, society, and the planet. Part of what this requires is changing the institutions where scientists are educated to welcome students from all backgrounds—and that will mean changing the academic environment, the curriculum, and the cost of education. It also means the culture of science itself must change.Read More

The Engineering Method

Working in the Penumbra of Understanding

“Scientists study the world as it is, engineers create the world that never has been,” according to Theodore von Kármán. Engineers solve problems by creating artifacts or systems, often before scientific understanding is available and before the public has identified a need. Understanding and enhancing engineering’s unique process have become vitally important as the nation seeks to reimagine science and technology policy to solve important problems and drive economic competitiveness for the future.Read More

Industrial Policy

Encompassing the Innovation Panoply

US policymakers from both parties have long avoided “industrial policy,” but a new set of drivers—competition with China, confronting climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic—is forcing a shift in attitudes. These three challenges amount to a crisis that is likely to induce a major change in US science policy.Read More

Health Technologies

Illustration by Shonagh Rae

Innovation as a Force for Equity

Innovation isn’t benefiting everyone, and sometimes it amplifies inequality. Whether the internet or insulin, many people in the United States lack access to crucial innovations. Better public policies, however, can help to address these problems and ensure a more equitable and just twenty-first century.Read More

“A Single Courageous State”

Laboratories for Science Policy Innovation

The urgency of climate change, combined with gridlock in US federal policymaking, elevates the importance of states as laboratories of democracy. As California’s environmental initiatives demonstrate, states can complement the federal role in generating science-informed legislation that addresses local problems while providing a model for national and international policies.Read More

Health Care

Building the Diverse Health Workforce of the Future

It is clear that the United States must make sustained investments in programs and proven strategies that will reduce deep inequities in our health care system, support a more robust and diverse health workforce, and build a more resilient, equitable health care system for the future. The good news is that we already know what works. Read More

A recent study showed that many students start out as “gifted” and “high achievers,” but due to a lack of local investment in low-income school districts and access to resources like computers, after-school STEM programs, and mentors, these students become the “lost Einsteins.”

The Missing Millions

Cultivating America’s STEM Talent Must Begin at Home

Urgent action is needed to ensure that the United States stays at the forefront of innovation by ensuring a steady supply of highly trained and creative scientists and engineers to develop the innovations of tomorrow. Talent is the treasure on which America’s science and engineering enterprise and the nation’s prosperity, health, and security depend. If revolutionary scientific insights and technological innovations are to be made in America, then the scientists and engineers who imagine and create these insights and innovations must be developed and nurtured in America too.Read More

Diversity in STEM

A Moonshot for Every Kid

It is imperative that people of color and those from other underrepresented groups become part of the STEM enterprise—not only to advance emerging technologies critical to maintaining American leadership and national security, but also to ensure that new technologies are developed with the needs of diverse communities in mind. Read More

The Stakes for Science

Stark, High, and Urgent

We can see pandemics as accelerant for scientific innovation and science as solution to pandemics. Without the pandemic, certain advances in science would occur more slowly or not at all. Without science, our ability to track and suppress a pandemic, reduce its impact, and preserve lives and health would be drastically curtailed. A pandemic reveals both lessons from science and lessons for science.Read More

A Decentralized R&D Ecosystem

Science Policy From the Ground Up

Despite a shift toward a more decentralized national innovation landscape, federal science agencies still operate in a highly centralized manner. As a result, federally supported science has been less effective than it could be at helping American communities deal with long-standing and emerging goals and concerns. To become the steward of a domestic R&D enterprise aimed at meeting the needs of the twenty-first century, the federal government must fundamentally re-envision its role, embracing the reality of the United States’ decentralized innovation system and taking on an updated set of responsibilities.Read More

This innovation system may appear messy and chaotic—but it is also extraordinarily productive. At its best, this decentralized system incentivizes individuals and organizations to compete not only for the best ideas, but also the best solutions that the market will support.

A Vision for the Future of Science Philanthropy

If science is to accomplish all that society hopes it will in the years ahead, philanthropy will need to be an important contributor to those developments. Given these stakes, what will science philanthropy need to get right in the coming years in order to have a positive impact on the scientific enterprise and to help move society toward greater collective well-being?Read More

Great Science Begins With Nurturing Early-Career Researchers

Graduate students and postdocs endure long hours, low pay, uncertain employment, and inequitable conditions. Supporting the needs, including mental health, of early-career researchers requires policy changes to shift the environment in which they work—and could result in a healthier, more diverse, and more productive scientific workforce.Read More

Scientific Collaboration

Finding Safe Zones for Science

Serious cooperation between US and Chinese scientists is getting more difficult as geopolitical tensions increase. But with a deliberate strategy—such as the framework outlined here—the two countries can realize massive potential gains.Read More

America on Edge

Settling for Second Place?

China is now making many advancements in science and technology more quickly and convincingly than the United States and is reaping the rewards. It is clear that the United States cannot afford to continue on its current path of complacency.Read More

Antipoverty Research

A Research Agenda to Get More People Out of Poverty

Far too many people live in poverty, even in high-income countries such as the United States and Canada. A significant governmental investment in research to test various promising combinations of programs could help lift the most disadvantaged people out of poverty while maintaining a vibrant and innovative economy.Read More

Justice and Equity

There Can Be No Innovation Without Diversity

True innovation requires a diversity of voices and perspectives at all operational levels, including the scientists in the laboratories who develop new approaches, the physicians who leverage technological advancements, and, most importantly, the people who benefit from them.Read More

Transformative Research Labs

Scaling Research Solutions for Society’s Real Problems

To ensure that our scientific research benefits everyone in our country, we must get more innovation out of our labs and into our communities. This change will require not only producing solutions, but then rapidly identifying, scaling, and distributing them to the entire population. Read More

Growth and Productivity

For a Competitive Economy, We Need a Skilled Workforce

Labor force trends have changed dramatically over recent decades. The United States must make sustained investments in worker training and higher education to make sure it can meet the shifting needs of a scientifically productive society.Read More

Research Universities

Imagining the Role of the Research University Anew

Research universities have a responsibility to play a greater role in helping society address and plan for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead—including climate change, equity, health and aging, security, and strengthening democratic institutions. With targeted, smart planning over the next few years, society can be better prepared to meet future crises. To help with that preparation, universities must leverage the talent in scientific, engineering, and policy communities to create a more resilient, inclusive, and agile research enterprise.Read More

The United States needs universities—some of the most fiercely competitive and proudly autonomous global institutions in America—to coalesce around national interests in economic prosperity and economic security.

Greatness Thrust Upon Them

US Research Universities and the National Interest

Science and technology capabilities in other nations—particularly China—are developing at rates that the United States is struggling to keep up with. US research universities need to set aside business-as-usual calls for federal funding of curiosity-driven research and coalesce around national interests in economic prosperity and economic security. Read More

Stuck in 1955

Engineering Education Needs a Revolution

The “pipeline” concept has long kept people out of the field of engineering. It’s time to address the needs of today’s digital, diverse, global, and rapidly changing society.Read More

Catalyzing Innovation

Why the United States Needs a National Technology Strategy

Win-win technology choices do exist. With the right incentives, it is possible to make strategic investments in technology that achieve multiple national objectives.Read More

It’s Not a Race

Innovation Is a Dance Between Discovery and Use

Unprecedented public, bipartisan, political support for ambitious new investments in science and innovation signal a desire to boost US innovation. The proposed enhancements will be most effective if they understand the rich history of the way ideas and solutions develop.Read More

Resilient Science

Envisioning Science for an Unknown Future

We can prepare today for a better planet, a thriving planet, one in which humanity benefits from the discoveries of science, but doing so depends on nurturing and sustaining a scientific infrastructure that is both resilient and flexible.Read More

Science and Technology Philanthropy

America’s Unique Research Advantage

Philanthropy is often left out of the discussion despite its long-proven role in leading science and technology into the future and improving the lives of people everywhere.Read More

Diversity in STEM

Nothing Succeeds Like Success

To expand participation in science and engineering, we need to fund the institutions and programs that are already graduating diverse students.Read More

Restructuring the Enterprise

Time to Say Goodbye to Our Heroes?

To deal with the human and environmental urgencies of the next 75 years, we need a system that can create knowledge where we need it and enable faster adoption of innovations. This revised structure must enable broader participation on every axis, including gender, socioeconomic background, race, nationality—and across disciplines.Read More

Introducing a New Inquiry

the next 75 years of science policy

The Next 75 Years of US Science and Innovation Policy

The vision for the US scientific enterprise after World War II has been abundantly realized. Now we must consider how to structure scientific research to meet human needs in a world of accelerating change.Read More

A New S&T Policy for a New Global Reality

Scientific research has become global: scientists and engineers around the world are linked in a dense network, collaborating and sharing results in real time. This new reality is not well understood or appreciated by an overconfident US policy establishment.Read More

Innovation-Based Economic Security

The United States does not have a global science and technology strategy. It is time for the US to adopt a new aim for science and technology policy—that of achieving economic security through innovation, with a coherent set of organizing principles that allow the government to analyze progress, distribute resources, and coordinate actions.Read More

Use-Inspired Research

How to Build Upon Vannevar Bush’s “Wild Garden” to Cultivate Solutions to Human Needs

To meet this moment, we need to ensure that our federally sponsored research addresses questions that will enhance our competitiveness now and in the future. At the same time, we need better ways to usher more of those research advances into the marketplace.Read More

Over the next year, we will be publishing dozens of ambitious, challenging, and innovative proposals on how to structure the resources of science to enable the best possible future.

Immigration Policy

Attracting (and Keeping) the Best and the Brightest

Grudgingly accepting the world’s best and brightest students, scientists, and entrepreneurs is no longer enough; the United States needs to be actively recruiting them. And legislators need to give them a clear legal path to work here.Read More

The Next 75 Years of Science Policy” has been made possible through the generous support of The Kavli Foundation.

Kavli Foundation logo

Illustrations by Shonagh Rae.