The 1998 William D. Carey Lecture
For over 30 years, Representative George E. Brown, Jr. has been an effective and eloquent voice for science and technology on Capitol Hill. In and out of Congress, he has set the example and encouraged other scientists to become more active in policy-making, and to be more responsive to societal need. His long list of accomplishments includes roles in creating the Office of Technology Assessment and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He also participated in restructuring and strengthening the National Science Foundation. His tenure on the House Science Committee reaches back to 1965; he is currently its Ranking Minority Member. In addition to his work in Congress, he has also served on the local level in California and has a degree in industrial physics from UCLA.
From this vast experience and position of long-time leadership, Representative Brown writes of his optimism about the future. But he tempers his optimism with an objective look at some disturbing realities. To continue our pace of progress, we must address these challenges. After working to shape our current science and technology, Representative Brown now reaches into our future to ensure that our past work bears fruit.
He advocates change in two areas. He wants scientists and engineers to become more involved with the political process and the broader society"in other words, to be more effective citizens." And he wants everyone in science, engineering, and public policy involved in making the needed reforms in our systems of research and education. In other words, science needs to connect to the broader society.
He details some of the changes he feels are needed. In contrast to the Vannevar Bush era, we now need a science policy that can be supported by the public. We also need to shift from a competitive approach to a cooperative one, and from disciplinary inquiry to multidisciplinary. In addition, science has become more global, with more player nations and international collaborations. We need to address these changes.
Responsibility is a key word for Brown, as it was for President Clinton. He says that scientists must take responsibility for any unplanned social consequences of their work and they must develop more effective means of evaluation. He gives us our first look at how the scientific community is responding to the Government Performance and Results Act, and he has his concerns. We need some kind of performance-based funding developed, he says, but with strong participation from the broader society. We also need to measure scientific activities against social goals. "Our scientific enterprise remains adrift, without a connection to the broader society." With the power to transform our world, we are responsible to think about what is going to happen to that world.
We face the next millennium in a much different situation than what could have been envisioned 50 years ago. The Cold War is over and its funding can now go to social progress. The deficit does not cloud our discretionary spending as it once did. Advances in telecommunications and economic relationships are uniting our world. Science is more international and cooperative. But along with these opportunities come responsibilities. For example, if we are going to negotiate international science agreements we must have the funding to make good. The United States must be a responsible world citizen.
Brown says we have outgrown the Vannevar Bush model. But in those 50 years, we used it to create a more sophisticated world. Now we must respond to these changed conditions. We face a future in which we must move beyond the status quo to higher standards of success, accepting our responsibility for the amazing world created by the genius of science.
Brown presented "Unlocking Our Future" as the tenth annual William D. Carey Lecture in Washington, DC, on April 29, 1998. The Carey Lecture was established by AAAS in honor of Bill Carey on the occasion of his retirement as executive officer of AAAS, a post he held from 1975 until 1987. During his tenure, Carey catalyzed the study of the role of research and development in the federal budget and introduced initiatives that now form much of the landscape of current AAAS programs, including publication of this Yearbook.
The Carey Lectureship recognizes individuals who exemplify Bill Carey's leadership in articulating public policy issues that are engendered by the application of science and technology. Lecturers are selected by a distinguished advisory committee. The 1998 Carey lecture was the sixth presented at the AAAS Colloquium on Science and Technology Policy, where it has become a permanent feature. Previous lectures had been held at the AAAS Annual Meeting.