[Written as a background report to the Association of Governing Boards.]
The role of science and technology in higher education for the future has been treated largely in terms of the cultural, social and economic influence in the total population, since it appears that colleges and universities could become principal connectors and articulators of the profound and pervasive impacts of technology in modern life. Accordingly, the issues to be considered transcend the basic function of professional training and scientific and engineering research and discovery, in which higher education is a primary resource, and in which, in fact, it is functioning presently and in prospect with skill and potency. Rather, the number and quality of those studying science and engineering may critically determine national progress, and thus the condition and cast of society overall are crucial.
Modem science and technology have already affected the shape and content of higher education so dramatically (e.g., the role of digital computers and communication in higher learning) that nearly all the other issues being treated in this national Panel contain large elements of science ad technology.
Accordingly, we shall in the following projections assume recognition of this network of interactions, and thus seek to reflect the wide-ranging import of new knowledge and capability in social, biological and physical sciences ad technology. Chairman Paul Ylvisaker, in his presentation of perspectives for the Panel at the Atlanta Meeting, has wisely summarized in the pattern of Allison (“The Universe: Of Mind and Matter,” 1989) the views of an eminent philosopher, Perre Teilhard de Chardin. Some years before his death, we have had the privilege of discussion with de Chardin about the nöösphere, cultural heredity, and the implications of molecular genetics. He and others have brought out that higher education is a principal pathway by which science and technology can become familiar and intrinsic elements of world society. From this philosophy, a crucial theme would seem to be the continuity of learning and discovery, wherein the discipline of increasingly experimental social, as well as bio and physical, science steadily reinforces the need for cumulative knowledge. This is in contrast to the convenient leaping on the bandwagons of new ideas about this or that part of nature an humankind, and rejecting “older” views, as was fashionable in the developmental years of The Age of Science.
The same theme is even more compelling in the arena of technology and the application of science. The world of study and learning is barely getting used to the notion that the findings of Galileo and, later, Newton on mechanics and cosmology are not displaced by the concepts of Einstein and Schrödinger, of Heisenberg and Sommerfeld and Bohr, in the quantum mechanics, atomistics and nature of mater. Nor is cumulation incompatible with the findings of Avery, MacLeod, and McCarty, of a half century ago, that a ribbon-like molecule, DNA, is the active component of genetics and basic to the control of growth and form in living systems. (“The Transforming Principle,” M. McCarty, Rockefeller University Press, 1985.) Nevertheless, the shifts in concepts represented do extend far beyond what was taught as the facts and theories of the earlier time.
Intrinsic to these ideas, and really a necessary background to understand the central position of this issue in the oncoming teaching of science and technology, is the admirable essay of Professor Gerald Holton, presented a year ago at the Nobel Conference XXV, having. the general title, “The End of Science”. Professor Holton’s paper, entitled ‘‘How to Think About the End of Science,” deals expertly and fluently with cyclical concepts such as O. Spengler’s treatise of 1918, “The Decline of the West”. Along with noting the fallacies of such themes, Holton quotes from Spengler, “It is possible to foresee when Western scientific thought shall have reached the limits of its evolution.” He then derives from chronologies of the book that the year 2000 is when this is expected to happen! But then Professor Holton discovered another essay. It appeared the same year as Spengler’s book. It was composed by a then little-known celebrant of the 60th birthday of Max Planck, whose name was Albert Einstein. He describes the future of science with marvelous vision and derives the theme that Holton has designated the “linearist” view. These ideas are so vital to the initial “cumulation” precept of this report on issues in higher education, that no abstraction of Einstein’s essay or of Holton’s elegant interpretation of it can be offered short of reading the full Holton paper, which is scheduled to appear in the Spring of 1991.
But, as we said, these themes are basal to our whole offering, and actually reach over into social, as well as educational, aspects of science and technology as college and university matters. That is why, of course, we start out with the preceding considerations. So, the college in the future should make sure that its faculty and students understand the titanic role of unforeseen possibility, along with cumulative change, in dealing with science and technology. Correspondingly, the college should show, through enhanced attention and skill in teaching the history and philosophy of science and engineering, the subtle and challenging conditions that inspire and activate pursuit of new possibilities. Lethargy and passivity are classic enemies of advance in all the issues involving the human condition. But we now know that to counter them in science and technology, a: strange and wonderful convergence of knowledge and imagination must occur, along with a dogged, unyielding energy of endeavor to do the new things that ought to be done. That is why the great scientists and engineers put such effort into asking the right new questions, other than decorating nice old answers -which do, however, have to be assimilated in the cumulative foundations.
Professor Harvey Brooks, of Harvard University, has provided in a most insightful paper, ‘‘The Changing Structure of the U.S. Research System: A Historical Perspective on the Current Situation and Future Issues and Prospects,” (papers of the Science Policy Seminar Series, School of Public and International Affairs, George Washington University, 1985, Washington, D.C.), an assessment of how research universities have supported major science and technology in America during the most active periods of this Century. Professor Brooks’ report and his elegant bibliography should be regarded as the basic operational and policy accounts of scientific &D as a continuum in academic activity. He has expressed the intrinsic factor -- the scope of socio-intellectual effort in American -- in the cumulative quality of science and engineering learning. As we have noted, this is an essence of Einstein-linearity of the scientific endeavor. This paper and its references must be recognized as significant background for the present report.
Now these are examples of the particularities of science and engineering that have long been recognized by practitioners. But they do put special demands on successful pedagogy of traditional higher education. For instance, constant selectivity should accompany retaining the cumulative base, lest the course material become utterly overwhelming in volume. (Coping with this hazard is a main theme in Project 2061, “Science for All Americans,” AAAS, 1989, as will be discussed later.) Presently, text publishers and others fail in this. Even more compelling is that science and technology are becoming so causative in civilized life that their knowledge content needs to be related to their mission in general cultural ways, and higher education should lead in this -- on health, family, weather, money, clothes, shelter --. This requires new ways of thinking about and talking about old things.
Is a deficiency in organizing and presenting new knowledge a major reason for a rising disinterest (not just a falling interest) in studying science and engineering in college? If so, isn’t this a compelling issue for higher education? Or doesn’t it matter that the proportion of undergraduate degrees in science and engineering has stagnated since 1960, and that since 1982, the number of freshmen planning to major in engineering has declined by 25%? And despite a surge upward in the ‘70’s, those intending to major in the frontier field of computer science are 66% fewer than in 1980. (Luther S. Williams, “The Bridge,” 20 p. 10, Fall issue NAE, 1990.) Here appears a dramatic anomaly in issues of science and technology for higher education. A triumph of academic teaching ability has been the skill and speed with which college faculties in science and engineering have kept up with the breakneck growth in knowledge in their fields, while maintaining the essential continuity and historic basis noted at the beginning. Pedagogy in other fields doesn’t demand this on any comparable scale; eloquent lectures on the French Revolution or Gothic architecture can be refined without much reorganization, year after year. So it might be expected that the science and technology coursework would receive special attention.
But whatever the reasons, higher education in science and technology seems to be declining in appeal to students. Even reasons less basic than inadequate organization of overabundant, new material may indeed be prominent.
The conventional explanation may even be conclusive and immutable, but the matter remains an issue. This usual answer is that society devalues engineers and scientists and teachers in earnings and position, compared to other pursuits. The differences are certainly significant -- but we need to know how fully decisive· compared to the learning factors themselves. Examples of the economics are 1990 average salaries of $65,082 or attorneys, compared to $47,054 for engineers, $44,489 for chemists, $42,331 for systems analysts, and $31,304 for K-12 teachers! (Council on Competitiveness, Wash., D.C. 20006, August, 1990.) Of course, this alleged “free market” evaluation may be in for changes; current figures indicate that about 40% of pre-college teachers will retire in this decade, and then half of all graduates, (total. of 1,017,000 with bachelor’s degrees, 320,000 with masters (OER!, U.S. Dept. Ed., NCES 90-692, Sept. 1990) will be required for replacement alone.
How this teacher gain can or will happen is a mortal challenge for the USA. (About 10% of all. our university .graduates presently plan to teach; starting pay for Japanese school teachers is high in scale of public service,” often higher than for their engineers.) “
Certainly, this dramatic shift in pre-college teachers and teaching that must be faced is both a problem and an opportunity for higher education in math, science and technology. New generations of skills in organizing knowledge could be cultivated, in a truly valiant preparation for the 21st Century.
But, if indeed science and technology have become pervasive factors in modern life and culture, as we suggest, two issues stand out in the times ahead. Namely, we must first be assuring that the people can grasp the general ideas of science and technology and feel informed appropriately as global issues of energy, materials, ecology and economy require public decisions. The other is that for the well being and advance of a free nation, we shall need large and effective numbers of professional scientists and engineers. This means a surge in professional and scholarly education, just opposite to the large and rising disinterest in careers in science and engineering typical of our undergraduate community. Clearly, these two issues are connected since, for instance, to teach acceptable scientific scientific literacy in form of liberal arts instruction will require new understanding and drastic revision of teacher’s colleges.
Thus, the scope and levels of instruction that we are recognizing for the future, which will start in kindergarten and extend into the college years, (and eventually into life-long learning) should also involve mathematics, science and technology as part of the liberal arts. Professor Truxal and Dean Marion Visich, Jr., operating in the Dept. of Technology and Society of SUNY-Stoney Brook, have already extended this remarkable infusion of modern science and engineering with suitable mathematical base into undergraduate teaching throughout the New York system, and also, nationally, in a series of planning conferences. Two faculty members from each of about 40 colleges in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois, have assembled Nov. 29-30, 1990 in Columbus, Ohio in evidence of the wide-spread significance of the teaching of quantitative reasoning and modem technology and engineering in programs which are beginning o deal with just the compelling issues of higher education as recognized in this AGB Study and its constituent reports. Namely, they are recognizing and acting on the combined-issues of public concern with science and technology, and the education of the new generations on which our total humanistic social and economic progress must depend.
Indeed, this new liberal arts program (NLA) has been so ingeniously adapted by its leaders and participants, that both technologic content and process such as simple, direct laboratory activity, can occur in nearly every undergraduate experience. For instance, the systems engineering presentations, which are intrinsic to quantitative reasoning, have been so cleverly designed by Professor Truxal and his associates that they are augmenting conventional science and engineering in major coursework as well. With the continued support of the Alfred Sloan Foundation, (where Mr. Albert Rees, Mr. Robert Kreidler and others created the plan) it seems that the new liberal arts regime is leading a potent pathway into both the orientation and preparation of undergraduates to have high performance and satisfaction in their life’s work. But this opportunity accents evermore forcefully the other issues we have forwarded, because some necessary, but yet to be specified, level of literacy, with its own scientific and technical cast, must surely be achieved before the new liberal arts of this route can be mastered. Nevertheless, it is exciting to see that Professor Rubin Kesler, Jr. of the Dept. of Mathematics, Paine College, Augusta, Ga., is working up material for undergraduates to understand the scientific sources of, as they say. “electrical devices used in daily living,” while he is also designing a quantitative data an probability course for beginning mathematics.
We assure the readers of these notes that we are in this context pressing neither physics for poets or general science for generalists, but rather a new salient into the training and exercise of the mind, which is a direct extraction of the cultural and economic interests of the youth for our oncoming years. Overall, it is widely agreed that the college graduate and the emerging professional of the years to come will need to be adaptable, flexible, evolutionary in comparison to the stereotyped but confidently authentic “Man in a Grey Flannel Suit,” and the woman with the brief-bulged case having it all. Accordingly, it appears that the wide range of science and technology learning, associated with the vastly greater span of changes in the human condition arising from modern science and engineering, should combine in respect to higher education. This should mean a graceful balance between super-relevancy on the one hand (the M.B.A., the accountant, the pre-law etc.) and diffuse “humanism” on the other. As we shall note, appropriate ingredients in science and engineering, as we have tried to bring out, for instance, in the social science and behavioral science elements of “Science for All Americans,” provide a new and compassionate element of humanism without displacing the deeper, spiritual beauty of understanding and of artistic expression. An ability, indeed a passion, in the college to represent the aesthetic qualities of mathematics and science will be an invaluable balance to the now popular notions that the sciences and engineering, particularly in their industrial embodiments, as well as roles in national security, are inhuman and destructive. Nevertheless, this assimilation of rapidly changing and expanding mathematics, science and technology to be expressed and communicated as part of the truth and beauty that education implies, will demand a major adjustment in curriculum and teaching process.
Fortunately, there are hints of this change already evident from the spreading functions of computers and other automata in all aspects of schools and higher learning. However, special qualities of communication and electronics/photonics handling of information can enhance this cultural shift. For instance, the versatility and accessibility of graphics, as primitive as they may seem at present, coupled with such pedagogy as “On The Shoulders of Giants,” the recent National Academy of Sciences publication on pattern logic and basic numeracy from shapes and forms, can be a source of aesthetic response and exercise far outside the usual teaching practices.
Indeed, the essence of information and communication theory which derives from Shannon’s classic principle of comprehensive coding by digital expression is itself a wonderful interface between machine handling of knowledge and the marvelous and mystical exercise of the mind.
These are but some of the factors in why we now submit in this report a more detailed discussion of how an over-all technologic society may relate to attitudes toward support of and expectations for higher education. This leads later on into our other topics, as noted below.
But the themes of this introduction that indeed science and technology are already integral for most of the activities of higher learning, also prompt us to iterate our limitations in higher education experience. This experience is chiefly as user (industry), adherent (foundations), organizer (trustees, system of HE in N.J., U.S. gov’t programs), but not as teacher. (Fortunately, Professor Mildred Dresselhaus qualifies superbly for that domain.) We accordingly outline the socioeconomic base on which we report on science and technology trends and needs for the future. Following that, we shall describe the influence of science and technology in the orientation of students beginning higher education in the future. Then we shall expand on the expectations of such students through the role of education in the workplace. Then we shall discuss briefly how the college and university may be relating the scholarship of their faculties to advance ‘of knowledge and the quality of civilization in which their erstwhile students and the new generations of citizens will be living.
These sections all relate to the perspective that Professor Ylvisaker’s preparatory paper has provided. But this latter section is particularly unbounded, since it would involve impact of science and technology in many sectors, frequently coming from discovery in the research academy. Such may, in turn, define elements of life in the future that are of high import to democracy and economic comfort, through many complex derivatives. So many issues for the future will recur.
Higher education policy and practice need to identify and interpret these exterior influences early and insightfully. Thus, national security, health and public safety, the environment, the spread of automata in factory and service industries that ay produce vast increases in leisure time, are but samples of the connections that academic outputs will have with wide-ranging concerns of American life. Indeed, even such transcendent issues as values, so skillfully signified in Prof. Ylvisaker’s essay, will be illuminated by new scientific studies. Thus, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, in its mission of understanding and reducing conflict and violence - “Man’s Inhumanity to Man” -- is now finding that both more rigorous anthropology and behavioral zoology are notable aids in defining and promoting value-based social objectives.
But all the higher education issues in this section reflect again that this author knows little first-hand about the teaching operations. This suggests that it may be useful to have some examples, in the next sentences, of what our views have come from. For some Of the science and technology issues are so far-reaching that allowances for our interpretation may be needed.
So as to the first matter, origins and limitations of our report, we should note that it is mostly external to the academy, where we have depended on its graduates for most of our resources in industrial development and application of information and telecommunication systems. Also, one has pursued a personal, life-long commitment to the study. of macromolecule and solid-state science and the relations of bioscience to medical application (Bell Labs, Rockefeller University) .. So we see the future especially from this experience as a beneficiary of higher education and from the work of many decades in the uses of science and engineering for such public purposes as national security and public health in Washington. (PFIAB, PSAC, DOD, NSB, DOE, NIH, Nat’l Cancer AB, Health Effects Ins!., NAS,NAB.) Likewise, work at shaping and administering a new system of public higher education has been helpful (N.J. Board of Higher Education, 1967 - , N.J. Commission on Science and Technology, 1985 -). But others in this AGB Study will have known much more bout teaching and learning than we.
Accordingly, mindful of limitations, let us next touch on the preparation of the coming generations for higher learning. First, we shall remind ourselves of the sad realities of loss of literacy and its impact o living. Then we shall examine briefly qualities of the society, in which the students of the future wi1l’have grown through childhood and high school. We shall then move into a summary of present effort to restore literacy and numeracy along with extensive reforms of pre-college public education, such as are demanded by our report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education, entitled “A Nation at Risk …,” submitted to the President in the Spring of 1983.
This summary, in turn, will bring us to a kind of practical, or what is now culturally termed a young professional, way of life wherein most college graduates will be spending their adult years. So let’s face the familiar and painful diagnosis of where we start from, with the realization that higher education in the future will be feeling the effects of these years from the 70’s onward, well into the next millennium, even if we succeed, as we must, in the reconstruction of public education before college. Of course, this audience knows the present diagnosis, but we’d better have it again -- and again, and again. Namely, in the 1980’s, the national spending on K-12 schooling went up about 30% to slightly above 4-1/2% o the gross national product (compared to 3-1/2% in Japan, and about 3.2% in Germany). In this context, the high school completion for the U.S.A. is for 18-19 year aids, about 75%, but more than 94% in Japan, and about 100% in Germany. Comparative variations in this overall figure, all of these being the best estimates of the National Assessment of Educational Progress in the U.S. Department of Education, are large and dismaying, particularly since over a third of our U.S. workforce by year 2010 will be provided by these minorities. The results of this process in competing nations leads to a new literacy in Japan and Germany of 1 % or less, whereas the current U.S. 17-year aids have an illiteracy of at least 15%.
These situations have already altered the trends with which coming generations of students will live. The panel report of the Committee on Science and Engineering and Public Policy, of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, “Technology and Employment,” chaired by Dr. Richrd S. Cyert, David C. Mowery, study director, (Nat’l Acad. Press., Wash., D.C., 1987) concluded that “A substantial portion -- 20-30% -- of displaced workers lack basic skills -- “displaced workers” being a gracious term for those unemployed or required b the constantly shifting economy to seek new employment. This is only a part of the new economic confinement that will be felt by children and young adults who may be preparing for college in the coming years.
Right now, a recent report of the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA “Worker Training: Competing in the New International Economy,” GPO Sept., 1990.) concludes that 20% or more of employees in some industries of the nation lack reading, writing and arithmetic skills, so that they cannot even b trained in new and necessary capabilities for which industry would be, and is, hoping to educate them. These latent effects add up to suggest that we shall find the $30 billions or more a year that industry already spends on remedial education becoming less effective and more of a burden. Academic performance among 2-1/2 million high school graduates of 1995 (the number is expected to decline from the current level of 2.628 million in 1992 to about 2.512 million in 1994) represents an uneven and wide spectrum of preparation and literacy. Hence, their yearly inputs to a present college enrollment of 13,558,000, NCES 90-689, 1990,) (with 10,538,900 in public universities and colleges) are a highly heterogeneous (and perhaps even disruptive) cohort with which higher education must move through the instructional and social challenges of the next Century.
We assume that the academic report for a corresponding panel has already dealt with the peculiarities reported by the National Center for Education and Statistics. These indicate, for instance, for the years 1990. through 1994, a total high school graduation of about 2-112 million each year, being related to the higher education enrollment of 13-112 million in any of those same years. In any case, we well know those years of about one million bachelors degrees and 458,000 associate degrees in 1990 and about 1,058,00.0 bachelors and about 459,0000 associates are a credible projection for 1994. (NCES 90692). So, obviously, on every higher educator’s mind is the human energy and loss of value implied by a steady state population of 13 million students in higher education, and an annual output of less than 1.5 million earned degrees. While of course there are a host of explanations and rationalizations exhibited to every appropriations body and granting entity in the nation every year, and while the figures cited are of course far outside our theme of science and technology per se, as we have pointed out, the problem of generating suitable citizen literacy for a technologic society described or cited above is so far largely undefined.
If anything, the phenomena accent a theme propagated steadily since our report, “A Nation at Risk ...,” that if in some way, basics of science and mathematics are learned as, for instance, in the regime of Project 2061, “Science for All Americans,” general literacy is achieved. Then this vast cohort of students enrolled in higher education in any given year could form an informed component of a technologic society. Perhaps this foregoing glimpse of values of science and mathematics as a pathway in education both for citizen and professional capability has promise for the future in colleges and universities. So one is dismayed that the current National Assessment of Educational Progress in a sampling of performance in the past 20 years, shows little gain from the 1970’s. In “America’s Challenge: Accelerating Academic Achievement,” the assessment finds that less than 8% of 11th and 12th graders have “any degree of detailed scientific knowledge,” and that 16% of 7th and 8th graders cannot do decimals, fractions and percentages.
It seems that these conditions have such import for higher education, that the implications emerging from science and technology aspects should be recognized (and examined) as latent (or inescapable!) attributes of our culture. So, we should pursue our earlier allusion in the influence of our total technologic society n the people’s views of supporting, advancing and joining in science and technology. Certain feelings and attitudes, at least in the Western World, have strong relevance to higher education financing and place in democracy. Many of these positions come from looking at science and technology as apart from everyday living, and causing hostility through military and environmental impacts, etc.
Amid the surface surge in popular science in journals, electronic media and the social rounds, lies this deeper issue. It is the peoples’ science -- the understanding about science and technology and their uses which compose, indeed, enable, so much of modern life. This doesn’t make the headlines like -- “black hole darkens,” “genes spliced into atoms,” “water discovered in hydrates.:” ... For one thing, the people’s science is where science eventually becomes technology and engineering. There, it serves people materially, just as in its primary form science enhances understanding and widens vision and serves people spiritually. But serving materially gets complicated by economics and emotions, in health, and food, and freedom through national security. So journalists and media makers, with their time and space pressures, find it hard to dig in and to see what the underlying science and discovery mean, by the time the vaccine is out, or the fuel is doubling in cost and scarcity, or nuclear missile treaties demand new verification, to support freedom in Europe.
But these very living conditions are the essence of the peoples science and technology, in the developed and even developing world nowadays.
An elegant and essential counterfoil to the sensational accounting of science and technology by the public media occurs in the work of Professor Dorothy Nelkin, now University Professor at New York University. Her recent book, (Selling Science: How the Press Covers Science and Technology, Freeman, New York, 1987) and current writing (“Selling Science,” Physics Today, 43, Nov. 1990) treat skillfully communications for the citizen. This issue of credibility, quality control of information, indeed intrinsic popular meaning of new science and technology should be of unsurpassed concern to higher education in a democracy. Indeed; Physics Today for Nov. 1990, largely devoted to essays on communicating physics to the public, provides many valuable views relating to this section of our report.
The reason for a bold presumption that science and technology need popular support lies largely in the historic circumstances of the 20th Century condition. Often now nicknamed the Information and Communication Age, and Computer Age, this era also is a particular joining of all our civilization with science and engineering. Such conditions, including derivatives such as national security concerns (especially missiles and nuclear weapons) led us also to the Space Age. These derivatives, in turn, including some through the superb ventures in space of human outreach, have given new and unprecedented worldwide emphasis to mentality.
For the heroes of science and technology in industry and beyond, and even of space navigation and biological and ecological endeavors like the Green Revolution, depend principally on learning. True, they need all the other basic virtues -- of diligence, strength, stability, commitment, energy -- but knowledge is the essence of their actions. That is: knowledge organized, accumulated, refined, worthy, by historic exercise of scholarship. This adds up to be: education.
And then even more widely and generally our livelihood, our workforce, our gross national product are coming from what is called the service industries. These involve the handling of information, the spread into commerce and industry of the very processes of informing and communicating which are indeed the essence of education of all kinds anyway. So the new functions of mentality are pervading both ordinary and extraordinary affairs. Especially, these functions involve the work life of the individual -- sense of identity, worthiness, role of citizenship in our democracy.
Leading this, and perhaps the basis for it, have been the science and technology of electromagnetic, acoustic and optical waves, of electronic and now photonic signals. For it has been found, in the century of the invention of the telephone by Dr. Alexander Graham Bell and in the somewhat longer period of the telegraph, that the output of thought, the human expression in voice and vision, can be approximated (in volume and speed, even enhanced) by electrical analog waves and digital pulses. These, nature has let us make function in the machines of this century. For such communication ad computer systems are truly the wheels for knowledge transport, and the engines of organizing societies, nations, economies, and resource.
But even more than that, this has generated a milieu of the meaning of knowledge, of the possibilities of learning, which is right on track with what we have said is basic to capacity for excellence in living. Are these circumstances effectively conveyed in higher education for the times ahead?
Further discussion of the role of these technologies appears in’ “Is Knowledge Useful?,” W. O. Baker, in Science, Technology and Modern Society, F. R. Eirich, Ed., Polytechnic Press, N.Y., 1975; “Language and Logic with Electronics,” W. O. Baker, Proc. Am. Phil. Soc., 121, 360 (1977); “Modem Techniques Linking Knowledge t Action,” Lazerow Lect., Univ. of Pittsburgh, 1984.
So mindful of this growing base of learning and knowing: how close nowadays are knowing something, a prime potential of the individual, an doing something, the main responsibility of industry in our Western society?
A cautious answer is: they are getting closer, but they are still not very close. Yet in the world we are going to help to shape, they will be closer, by near, (should one say rather than “by far”?) than ever known up until now. That is to say that what the young, and especially the students, do in living, -- like talking, and eating, and thinking, and drinking, -- and even working -- includes much more knowledge, much more information about the world of nature as well as human kind, than ever dreamt of when we started in this century. And knowledge is increasingly ours to have and to use. But this capability (heavy in science and technology footings) is new enough so that it really hasn’t been much used. Does higher education plan to improve this situation, especially for minorities and the disadvantaged? Now, minority students obtain about 12% of college degrees, but in this decade will comprise a third of the work force (Education Commission of the States Panel on “Achieving Campus Diversity -- Policies for Change, Dec. 6, 1990, Washington, D.C.).
Doing things has come from manual skills, from the great traditions of crafts, of agriculture, of animal husbandry, of masonry, and eventually of mining and manufacturing, although also knowing some techniques became important in those frontiers for civilization. Altogether, and including modern agriculture, these activities comprise much of the non-service industries. But knowing why and understanding how in modem working life, actually are new indeed. This newness may portend great change -- such as in ancient and crude refining of metals from their planetary form of oxides and sulfides, by chemical reduction. For this old art may soon be revolutionized by direct ion plasma dissociation. If so, this will merely remind us that our millennia of prideful designations of civilization -- as the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, Steel Age, and maybe even the Gold Age, -- eras hat were achieved by atmospherically dismal smelting and refining, -- were but crude prologues to what knowledge could do. Ah so, you may say, but if knowledge is so great, will it sell in South Succotash? Will it play in Peoria? And anyway how do you get it? And if so, is it any fun?
For if we are closing the gap between knowing and doing, we ought to be able to do something with knowing, which is to say with knowledge. We report today that that is the way things are going. But it is also upsetting to find that to compete worldwide in doing such as making steel and television sets and automobiles and pharmaceuticals, you have to know at least as much as the people in Europe and Asia. And they, for instance, have found out that knowing pays. These factors that are shaping the future turn up in interesting forms. Daniel Yankelovich and John Immerwahr reported recently at the Wharton School in Pennsylvania that people not only (surprisingly?) want to work in America, but they may even want to work harder. They went on to say, however, that management doesn’t understand this, so more knowledge at the top would help. In fact about 52% of the work force was thought to have a strong work ethic, with about 21% what is called a “commitment” (means working on committees?). The crucial factor is that more knowledge is needed now, and will be in the times ahead, for knowing what you are doing, which is the new requirement for a 73% work ethic. The Penn conference also contained the necessary (and inevitable) input of an economist. In this case, it was Professor Lester Thurow from MIT. He said it didn’t make any difference what a nation had in resources, energy facilities, climate, or anything else as long as t possessed “a highly motivated work force.” With that Professor Thurow opined, “you’ll make it.” He did go on to remark however that it made a difference what the highly motivated work force worked on. And so he ran into the knowledge goal once more, without specific references to the general conclusions of Professor Robert Reich in his recent volume, “The Next American Frontier.” There Reich notes “Since the 1960’s, the American economy has been slowly unraveling.” Once more, viewed in perspective, the issue seems to have been not knowing what we are doing. For instance, in iron and steel with a peak employment of 952,000 in 1957, the changes in design and work habits accompanied a decline to - 500,000 in 1988, despite a vastly expanded total economy. Similarly, in the classic field of automobile manufacture, a maximum of 1.02 million employed was reached in 1978, down to - 700,000 in 1988, and lower now. In the chemical industry, a peak of 1978 has preceded a steady decline as well. In 1972, about 2.3 percent of the American market was filled by foreign goods and services, whereas in 1988 the figure’ was more than 10% and headed upward.
And so the familiar story goes, with productivity following a similar sinking trend although currently showing some recovery. What confidence in the college-trained technical personnel of industry does this induce in the public?
Ironically this deficiency in knowing and learning, especially the part in industry, is happening during this Age of Knowledge. Ways of exerting mentality are better than any we have ever had before. So by now we should be sure that closing the gap between knowing and doing is what technical education is about. In view of that wouldn’t you expect that our nation would have gone after good education at all stages, but particularly in the basics of literacy and logic (mathematics)? Certainly, world competition kept pointing that way. We had, however, wondered about whether this had happened. So the Secretary of Education, Terrell Bell, and the President asked us about eight years ago to form a National Commission on Excellence in Education, to find out whether we had made ready for the future, in a world which has discovered that knowledge works - in commerce and industry as well as in science and philosophy.
Probably you have heard something of our findings and recommendations, presented to the President on April 26, 1983 and entitled “A Nation at Risk, the Imperatives for Educational Reform.” What may interest us still is the overall cast of our results. For we have established that in the home, in the minds and spirits of the students, in the schools, and to a certain degree in the colleges and universities (although there we wre vastly more comforted), in these basic beings of our society, we have not chosen to know what we are doing. This shows up primarily and concretely in technologic terms, whether in factories, ecologic effects or public health. We put it that way because it is inconceivable if we had known, had realized the negligence and mediocrity with which we were equipping our youth, we surely would have struggled to change, and to correct the many simple errors and deficiencies with which our present primary and secondary school systems are afflicted. So let us consider a little more what we found; we shall give a current quantitative assessment a little further on, but the issue is so large eventually for higher education that it deserves reiteration.
The conventional and appropriate mission for a report on excellence in American education would be to show how a suitably renowned system of public and private education, with ever widening access for all citizens, could be further enhanced. Indeed, special emphasis on mathematics and science has come through. For instance, special attention should be given to the gifted and talented, on whose abilities so much of the new frontiers in the arts, sciences and humanities, as well as new skills and economy must depend. But, actually, our National Commission enterprise has required an emphasis different than the familiar one, expressed in countless reports on education at all levels.
That familiar usual emphasis is to plead for better students, better teaching, better books, better salaries, better methods, better boards of education. All these things are worthy and desired. And in fact, our nationwide hearings and extensive testimonies have further affirmed a wide variety of endeavors and improvements spread through every state and district in the Union. Of course, some of these are late, some are unfunded, and many are misunderstood. But nevertheless, we were struck by the high sense of responsibility and the multitude of initiatives throughout our nation. We were fortunate in having access through our Commission to many convincing examples of such efforts, illustrated, for instance by “Student Guide to Academic Excellence” and its derived activities pursued by the Albuquerque public schools in New Mexico. Other examples included public advice through the press for the kind of curricula that must be mastered in pre-college education in order to succeed in higher education, as propagated by the University of Utah.
But now, the main thrust and preoccupation of this Commission on excellence have taken a different turn, more heavily pointed toward math and science than ever before. It is a turn that happens also to be the major concern of our national Administration, of our Federal government, or our economy and our free society. It is, that the United States no longer has its mid-Century position of world economic dominance and decisive security. Right now our people are eagerly, soberly, even nervously expecting widespread Federal and independent enterprise counteractions to severe domestic and international socioeconomic hazards. These may threaten our lives and living more than any since the nineteenth century. However, the most promising resistance to this decline lies in one primary set of expectations. This we found is yet unarticulated into the will and energy of our population and its institutions. It is, that now and in the future, citizens of the USA must demand levels of earning, of literacy, of the ability to read, write and count that are beyond what our total diverse population presently can do.
This reflects a different world from that of the historic American successes in agrarian pursuits, in the establishment of manufacturing industry, in the exploitation of abundance resources, in the hard work and keen skills of the builders and makers. These, still needed, are no longer enough. It’s not just that the Japanese make automobiles more efficiently and have government subsidies for development and export, or that the South Koreans have built the planet’s most efficient steel mill or that American machine tools, once the pride of the world, are being displaced by German products. It’s rather that this signifies a redistribution of human capability which will not be countered through trade agreements, shutdown of unprofitable plants, greater welfare payments, inflation of the currency, or numerous other measures which are being tried. Rather, it is that new levels of training and learning in these cases, largely engineering capabilities, are spreading throughout the world, as surely and vigorously as synthetic fertilizers, drugs to combat malaria, and blue jeans have already diffused globally.
But America does have a few special strengths left. Some of these come directly from higher education, deriving from the circumstances that the spread of industry and technology throughout the rest of the world demands in the society using them new levels of organization and information handling, new speeds of communication and data transfer. This is seemingly the only way that the immensely complicated social and cultural variety around the earth can coordinate enough (with finance, markets, transport, etc.) to move into an era beyond family garden plots and nomadic animal husbandry. The discovery of the digital electrical computer and its implementing agents, the transistor and integrated circuitry, the capital equipment of printers and copiers and terminal gear, and above all the human intelligence and training to organize knowledge for action, have become the major new resources in America. They can provide along with finance and administrative skills, major and necessary organizing capabilities for the inevitable although shaky industrialization of the rest of the world. In doing so, they can provide many new careers and satisfy lives for our citizens, and they will also need to be used to support new levels of skills on our farms, in our factories, and in other more conventional parts of our own economy.
Now this can all happen under one overriding condition. It is that beginning now, our oncoming generations of workers and those ready for retraining and continuing education must exercise, not merely learn but also exercise, levels of technical literacy which in an earlier day in America were considered somewhat of a luxury, or at least of a capacity required only for specialized higher education or specialized skills in a restricted part of the population. Our study accents that that’s all changed now. For reasons and in ways that are explicated elsewhere, Americans must shift their expectation for precollege and college education drastically and immediately. We submit that math, science and engineering are now the right routes for new levels of learning. This requires a mobilization of every local element - school boards, state and private systems faculty, students and above all families and parents.
Most fortunately, as we said before, our school systems do have initiatives and skills which can be relatively quickly applied if activated by full public demand. But so compelling is the need -- literally a need to make it so that out children and even ourselves will be able to have jobs and learn in the rest of this century and beyond -- that we must generate also new ways to learn. This must happen even while applying assiduously and with new energy those which have serve so well in earlier parts of the century.
Namely, let us step beyond the familiar methodology and constraints of our massive public education while preserving its values and political balances. Let us take full advantage of the wisdom and counsel of the best teachers and administrators (and especially those of higher education who have never yet been involved in educational reform,), and operate in selected schools and areas by engineering trials of the best ways to teach and to learn. This could be very different than using only those ways which have arisen through the necessarily complex political systems of the last two or three decades. Not only have we failed to use the modern age’s techniques of research and development to improve learning and teaching, but we also have not widely applied the special schemes that wise superintendents and teachers have already worked out. For instance, in the diverse population of the Albuquerque, New Mexico schools noted above, the current SAT verbal score averages out at 478 with a hefty 520 for math, in comparison to national averages of 426 and 467 respectively.
These are but indicators of what can be done with ingenious communications and efforts at improving the present processes. We should activate forthwith in appropriate experimental cases the best of the findings about learning enhancement, no matter what rigid practices or even more stiff prejudices inhibit the effort. We shall cite specific sources later in this text. Is it not bizarre that the world’s primary enterprise (US public and private education) devoted to knowledge lags seriously in the application of new knowledge to its own doings?
Moreover, infused in every stage of closing the gap between the ethereal opportunities of the best in higher education for science and technology, and the actual effort in college in real situations is requirement for remedial learning -- from conventional basic skills all the way to issues of how discipline and logical thought can be induced in relatively mature students. These students will need to grasp the essence of modern mathematics and technology, whatever their college majors might be. They may embody a special learning need. On this, we think that the science and engineering of learning systems and processes should be recognized in colleges and universities. So in the late and disadvantaged learning population, with which we are concerned, we shall hope to see some marvelous balance between independence and true academic initiatives of fully prepared undergraduates and those tardily but sincerely attempting to become educated after adolescence, in the present K-12 environ. (And perhaps, also, exposed to family and lifestyle condition un-ideal for learning; by year 2000, for example, more than 40% of the total in elementary and high school will be minority groups, up from the 30% of today). We have recently attempted in this connection in the Committee on Research on Mathematics, Science and Technology Education; National Research Council National Academy of Sciences, to assess what might be done in advanced methods and programs for leaching math and science. This is reported in publications prepared with Senta Raizen, Study Director of the Committee, J. G. March, Chair, Arns, Baker, et al. These proposals for new learning include “Mathematics, Science and Technology Education -- Research Agenda; 1985; “Interdisciplinary Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education,” 1987; “Education and Learning to Think,” Lauen B. Reznick and Committee noted, 1988; “Contextual Factors in Education -- Improving Science and Mathematics Education for Minorities and Women,” M. Cole and Pete Griffin, editors.’ (All of the above are published by National Academy Press, Washington, except the last, published by Wisconsin Center for Education Research, Madison, Wisconsin, 1987.) These studies and related ones do indicate that the higher education community should induce major gains in teaching and learning by advocation of new strategies, particularly appropriate for mathematics and science. New stages of systems integration are required.
In our topic of professional life for graduates, learning science and technology provides an intriguing twist. For, as we said early, the present national need is for about half of all graduates in this decade to go into teaching themselves. So, if indeed, a major professional occupation of many graduates should be in public and private general education, a college exposure (mostly outside teachers’ colleges) could be valuable wherein their own professors use modern pedagogy. Evidently a major part of our report in future high educational issues has been built in the role of science and technology in society -- far beyond the segment once identified as professional or sophisticated. But, as we note in the particular technologic properties of the Information Age, telecommunications, computer and automata are ubiquitous in life and work. Likewise, however, many other features of commerce and public service have growing technologic bases, especially in ecology and environment, energy and materials, and public health and agriculture.
And we must venture even further into new pathways for learning. After all, the modern pre-college system, basic to our higher education output, is only a couple of centuries old, or less, around the world; the shaping and sharpening of human intelligence have proceeded for millennia before. Much of this was by apprenticeship, sometimes even involuntarily. But at least this happened in ways which showed the learner, by rapid feedback, whether anything was being accomplished. Barbaric though it may have seemed, is it perhaps more civilized than the present system of spending more than a decade in pre-college schools; in which the outcome for nearly half of Our graduates is uncertain, and maybe often assured inability? They are unable to do those things in reading and writing and understanding and expressing that we earnestly report are utterly essential for living in the present egalitarian society to which we aspire, and requisite for any higher learning. Further, those of us in industry know that we must train and retrain a major fraction of our new employees. So this nation should find out whether at least the voluntary option of a very broadly-tasked apprenticeship should be offered to the maturing student.
Likewise, we should explore other pathways, such as extended home ventures, which would of course require that the public schools (and maybe commuter colleges) give up their service as day care centers for parents otherwise occupied. Conceivably we could have parent-student mutual learning at home as well. (Such spirited efforts in teaching math are already under way at The Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley, in the EQUALS project). For in our present civilian labor force of over 111,129,000, of which more than 99,093,000 hold jobs for pay, a considerable fraction is poorly informed or equipped to enhance the productivity essential for our world competition. Complacency and self-deception would be the worst and inexcusable refuges of this nation, otherwise the object of much sympathy ad respect in the developed and developing world. We should repeat our statement at the outset that the expectations for learning must be sharply and persistently raised; higher education and its teaching should set the pace.
These circumstances have turned our report away from the on-coming science and technology activity of a vast and pluralistic higher educational system, to issues of national survival and individual life work. These same circumstances have also powerful impact on so many responsibilities of the Federal Government that we can expect a multitude of doubts, interpretations and distractions. Nevertheless, certain prominent agreements already appear. These are hard to relate to the individual’s experience, yet they couple directly to our deepest concerns. For instance, productivity has been declining industrially in the USA for 15 years, even though it has still maintained a high level compared to the rest of the world. In the last 20 years, our trade balance for industrial mainstays, such as automobiles, steel, machine tools, and shoes, has gone from zero to negative of about $35 billion. In electrical and components it went from a world market share of about24 percent 18 years ago, to 17 percent three years ago. Drugs and medicines have gone down from 23 percent to 16 percent world market share, indicative also that in high technology areas we are likewise at hazard.
Further, industries which require the higher skills in both pre-college and college education, such as computers, office equipment, aircraft, optical and medical equipment, drugs, synthetic material, engines, turbines, etc., showed a labor productivity growing six times as fast of US business on the whole. But they likewise represent demands on their workers which are unfilled by so large a part of our young population now entering the working ages. Similarly, many studies in the government sector have demonstrated marginal or inadequate capabilities of new generations to handle the informational and mental demands of steadily elaborating systems in national security, health services and other important areas. These new human resources are steadily being matched against the best of other nations, in ways previously unfamiliar to America in peacetime. For example, 20 years ago our foreign trade, in total values of imports and exports, was less than 10 percent of the gross national product, whereas it is now over 25 percent. Indeed, the value of our trade is larger than the entire gross national product of any other country except the USSR and Japan.
Obviously the demands on our skills to compete with our contemporary nations are rapidly intensifying. Our current studies on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency concerning the levels of skill and versatility in the manufacturing force to be used in times of emergency are most sobering. We simply have not brought the learning levels up to the real and essential demands for human ability. The 34 million new entrants into the work force in the last 20 years have especially accented the deficiencies in these learning levels. However, these adults already in the force will constitute over 90 percent of our total human resources in 1990 and over 75 percent of the force in the year 2000, due to demographic changes. About 56 percent of this labor force in 1990 is from the population segment now aged 25 to 44, and it will need essential retraining and stimulus as well as remedial earning if we are to compete in a world eager for sharing our standard of living. It is claimed that almost 10 percent of the civilian work force is already in a problem drinker category (the present college student sector has been said to be as high), at an economic cost of over $46 billion a year. There is no doubt that self respect and capability of performance are essential alternatives to ethical and physical decline. More than 23 million functionally illiterate citizens, associated with a million and a half entering the work force each year, must be converted to productive elements through the help, expectations and concerns of their fellow Americans. Industry must join with governments and public programs to achieve this; organized labor has a vast opportunity as well as large responsibility for participating. Industry seeking to restore education for the workforce is likewise also speaking out about the teaching of ethical values. Thus, Mr. John F. Akers, Chairman of IDM, spoke last month to The College Board National Forum, seeking to involve home and education in the recovery of ethical values. He noted a recent survey by Professor Robert Coles of Harvard, noting “a willingness to cheat on the part of 21 % of elementary school students and 65% of high school students”. We raise here the extension of this compelling issue to counter opposition in cheating and plagiarism in college, which in some forms may be even more widespread than in pre-college schooling. The nation’s colleges and universities can be the pacemakers for this crucial move.
A particular emphasis we wish to make is that the demands and complexities of our modern culture in a free society require that education attend the exercise of genius. We believe the time has passed when sheer talent -- mental, spiritual and physical -- can be suitably exercised in the absence of education -- of training and learning -- although this situation has been true only in comparatively recent times. Obviously, science/math and technology are not at all the sole arenas for such abilities, but they will be increasingly major arenas for the highest aptitudes. But now, accepting that it is the case, we must and should realize the huge responsibility as well as the vast opportunity that this circumstance puts upon education and its institution. For it embodies the sense that Professor Robert Nisbet of Columbia has treated in his Penrose memorial lecture before the American Philosophical Society o “genius and milieu.” It means education must bring out assured excellence from the indispensable genius of human ability on which our nation must ultimately depend. And this will, after all, be strongly influenced by those very features of home and schools and colleges, of social and psychological environ, that we say are essential for the slow learners, the disadvantaged, the illiterate. This likelihood, by the way, is supported not only by the specific assumptions about the exercise of talent to which we have just referred, but also by the sobering reports such as that in the 20th of May 1982 issue of Nature entitled, “The Great Japanese IQ Increase” and the notable report in the same issue of Nature by Richard Lynn of the new University of Ulster entitled, “IQ in Japan and the United States”. He shows a growing disparity. Lynn has a sobering and even convincing finding that the main Japanese IQ has not only been rising steadily with respect to its own levels but especially with respect to America, during most of this century. (The early 1988 and 1990 results on international testing in science and technology, of pre-college youth, affirm America’s decline, dramatically). He thoughtfully points out that it is doubtful whether rise of the magnitude noted (more than seven IQ points) can be accounted for by a change in Japanese genetic structure, despite the influence of drastic urbanization, in which between 1930 and 1960 almost 40 percent of the population moved from the country to cities. Rather he believes it is the result of “environmental improvements.” He demonstrates that the increase in IQ was present among even 6 year olds and therefore could not be attributed solely to formal education, but the total educational-learning milieu is surely prominent cause. Anderson, in a companion paper, remarks that Lynn’s work shows that 10 percent of the Japanese younger generation will probably have IQ’s above 130 in the 1990’s whereas only 2 percent of the American population can be thus categorized.
Everybody can argue henceforth, as they have since the times of Binet, about what IQ means but there is little doubt that this Japanese population is bright and capable -- and headed for college. Especially for our message today, it is coming along in an environ in which the really gifted and talented will have exceptional opportunities. We must seek to offer gifted and talented persons growing up in the last decades of the 20th century the same or better opportunities.
For it is through those few truly superior graduates of our schools and colleges, who carry forward the intellectual and professional genius of our nation, that we can claim excellence and aspire to greatness in our affairs.
And also in this connection we must be mindful of Milton’s lines in Paradise Lost: Consider first, that “great or bright infers not excellence.” This does tell us again that excellence means merit, goodness, virtue, superiority, - that which is raised, elevated and surpasses. It is not the ordinary dimension of “great” alone or the casual “brightness” of mind or being that assure excellence. It is rather for the individual a sustained height now coupled with education, convincingly evident in higher education. Education, with all of its needs and meanings has not lacked discussion or definitions, although for reasons already noted, science and engineering education are demanding new forms. We think of all the old one-liners, such as Mark Ficher’s, that education is “the process of driving a set of prejudices down your throat” or Trader Horn’s: “that education teaches you to walk alone” or even the journalist Ambrose Bierce (and journalists on education are not lacking either!) who said education is “that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.” But in fact we do believe that this nation, including its Federal Government, can do new things with and for the role of scientific, technological and engineering education in recognition and cultivation of those for whom excellence in living and doing is a reality as well as a goal.
For the basic dimension of human action from the mind, which is about forty bits a second n reading, writing, calculating, reasoning, speaking, hearing, is now being related to machines. In them a single chip easily hand-held can do a million bits per second. Larger assemblies of circuits range all the way up to the gigabit processors of mega-computers and to the horizon of sub-pica second logic and memory access of photonics in laser-based machines that are now taking shape. So here we have at least a million, and in one frontier a million million, rise in how the doings of the mind can be aide and augmented. This is in comparison to rocket propulsion that can enhance by about only a thousand times the transport of the body.
But however the large community of higher education in or nation decides to deal with these issues, a small and precious element of it, denoted as research universities, have in science and technology, engineering and research a pre-eminent responsibility of generating knowledge and assuring the life of science about which we began this report.
About this matter, too much has been and is being said for us to attempt to add usefully on this occasion. We have all, in our particular ways, been working at this matter for just about a half century in America, an there is a lot of evidence that the higher education community has generated an era of discovery and creativity in science and engineering which will forever stand in history as one of the greatest exercises of a free society. Right now, for instance, its comparison with the science/technology research and development of collectivist social systems which made these ideological goals is providing yet another confirmation of how well the system has functioned in America. The Swedish Nobel Committee, the studies and assessments of our national Academies of Science, Engineering and Institute of Medicine, yield still other detailed records of what has been done. Of course, as we said at the beginning, there is never room for complacency or ultimate satisfaction in the pursuit of science, and the present pains of research universities and institutes are all the larger because of the very big size of the total effort. While much of it is derived from public attitudes about science and technology, as we have tried to describe earlier, the dominant issue remaining for the research universities themselves at this particular decade may be how large should the effort actually be?
One parameter in that issue is the way the gigantic information base of modern academic science and engineering is organized. This, like so much of our national system, is wisely pluralistic, as was indeed proposed in the very first report of the first White House Science Office from the first PSAC. (Improving the Publication and Dissemination of Scientific and Technical Information in the United States, July, 1958). This report was accepted by President Eisenhower and followed by several more comprehensive studies on information systems, in which scholarly and professional societies pretty completely complement the publication and· communication role of independent market-sustained enterprises. The research universities have undertaken, heroically and resolutely, to work these resources into their badly stressed libraries, nowadays supplemental by computer networking provisioning of bibliography and data. We have sought for several decades through such independent organizations as the Council for Library Resources and, in more recent times, the National Council. for Libraries and Information Science, a Federal agency in the executive branch, to recognize and sustain, often through independent foundation efforts, the integration of the exploding volumes of record of science and technology with the conventional,’ but also rapidly enlarging and technology driven, service of traditional university libraries.
This situation is rapidly becoming unstable, as recognized by the increasing efforts of such modem networks as the EDUCOM system, to extend cooperation and relieve duplication in support of science and technology education. We hear currently for the nth time since 1958 that the Library of Congress is once more considering a national science and engineering plan. Our earlier studies that this is impractical, and maybe even undesirable, seem unchallenged by current events. But, on the other hand, we doubt if the federal government and other sources are providing anything like the right aid for publication an dissemination, including access. And without truly scholarly assessment of how information is getting around and what is being undone, this other compelling issue for higher education of whether research universities are trying too much or too little research and discovery will not be resolved.
Further, the prevalent idea that market demands for knowledge and especially for that beyond the invaluable resource of students who learn in getting that knowledge, is rather obscured by a deficit of systems engineering analysis. This could enlighten on what we don’t know and need to know about major national ventures such as public health, the environment, housing and the sociology of cities, etc. So there are a lot of reasons why higher education should hit the books, which the recent closure of eminent library schools such as Columbia’s suggest is not being expertly supported. But it is the science and engineering books that are mostly involved, and while the days of “building the library by degrees,” as the Princeton song put it when our honoraries were scarcer than they are now, is no longer a favorite strategy, new things need to be done about bibliography and the literature of science and engineering.
Beyond this, the issues of science an technology in research universities are steadily examined and admirably expressed in the work of the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering, fortified by extensive and detailed statistical studies of the National Science Foundation. Accordingly, one simply urges this conference and its sponsors to take time to absorb these works, and to relate them to given local conditions. Research universities are generally so strong and so precious that their problems don’t arouse national passions.
Among the host of issues that are steadily examined in the research universities, the matter of ‘big science’ remains prominent. Analogous situations to the recent MI.T./Florida dissension abut a national magnet laboratory are widespread. A chief reason to mention them here is just that various kinds of sharing and consortia already used are actually capable of much more versatile (and amiable) combinations of resources than have so far been exercised. A current venture in New Jersey, sponsored by its State Commission on Science and Technology, is in relatively “small science” research and development. Under the title of Surface Engineered Materials, some major academic centers are actually working together in ways which do not seem to injure the independence and individuality of the many investigators. Perhaps, in science and technology, as we have urged with respect to libraries and information resources, the sharing of other research and academic facilities may spread. This may happen particularly with the rapid growth of communication networks which, characteristically, as with NSFnet and various EDUCOM ventures, bring valuable computing and machine processing facilities as well. Indeed, consortia, especially involving information exchange, are being advanced in such new enterprises as The Center for Planning Information (CPI), formed at Tufts University last year. The Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium (REDS) is showing how higher education consortia can serve. A derivative, Public Universities Information Exchange, already has 22 university members (CPI Update, Nov., 1990, Medford, MA.).