Loka Institute Study Finds
U.S. Research Establishment
Overlooks Grassroots R&D Needs
Recommends Constructing National Network of
Community-Based Research Centers Patterned on
European 'Science Shops'
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 22, 1998
WASHINGTON, D.C. At a news conference here today, the Amherst-based Loka Institute
released an 18-month study that examined community access to research dollars, facilities, and
personnel throughout the United States. The study found that public and private research
institutions routinely by-pass community involvement in determining the need for and in
conducting research. A "preposterous mismatch" exists between the United States' well-endowed, mainstream R&D agenda and the urgent needs of communities across the country, the
Urging a change in that policy, the Loka study estimated that the price tag for a
nationwide, community-based research system would be $450 million a year.
"We live in an era of decentralized government, yet communities can't get their hands on
the resources they need to fend for themselves," said Loka Institute Executive Director Dr.
Richard Sclove. "We found that communities face unmet needs for research in everything from
epidemiological investigation of leukemia clusters to allocation of municipal services and
The $450 million required annually to fund a U.S. community research network represents
only 2% of the current annual budget of all U.S. government laboratories, Dr. Sclove added.
Titled "Community-Based Research in the United States," the Loka Institute study was
funded with grants from The Aspen Institute's Nonprofit Sector Research Fund and the W.K.
Kellogg Foundation. Richard Sclove, Madeleine Scammell, and Breena Holland authored the
"The need for a network of community-based researchers and partners is palpable," author
and professor Daryl Chubin told the news conference. Dr. Chubin currently serves as a division
director of the National Science Foundation. "It is the kind of work that private foundations and
even a few multidisciplinary programs at fundamental research institutions have begun to
Other participants in the news conference included: Larry Wilson, Coordinator of
Appalachian Focus in Kentucky; Walda Katz-Fishman, Board Chair of Project South in Atlanta;
Carolyn Raffensperger, Director, Science and Environmental Health Network; Madeleine
Scammell, Loka Institute Deputy Director; and Jonathan King, Professor of Microbiology, M.I.T. The Loka report included twelve case studies of community-based research efforts in
Woburn, MA; Jacksonville, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Chicago, IL; Minneapolis, MN; Fairbanks, AK;
Atlanta, GA; Yellow Creek, KY; Toledo, OH; and among Native Americans in Nevada,
Oklahoma, and New Mexico. In addition, it contrasted the successful Dutch "science shop"
model with the highly centralized U.S. research establishment.
In a statement released at the news conference, Rep. George Brown, ranking minority
member of the House Science Committee, endorsed the study's findings: "This report explores
ways to achieve the involvement of the lay public in science and technology issues that affect
them. This is what many of us in the policy arena have been advocating for some time, a better
mixing of the scientific community and the general public."
Walda Katz-Fishman, Howard University Professor and Board Chair of Atlanta-based
Project South, told the news conference that community-based research "provided the
horsepower" that fueled major exposés of money and politics in Georgia. "Our studies
documented the real sources of political money and resulting voter discrimination in Georgia," Dr.
Katz-Fishman said. "Our research is widely recognized as contributing to the beginning of serious
reform in Georgia politics."
Commenting on the Loka Institute study, W.K Kellogg Foundation Senior Vice President
for Programs and former Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation, Dr. Anne Petersen
said, The traditional voices in R&D priorities have been industry, military, and government more
generally. They have shaped the current research agenda. With the end of the cold War, many
have acknowledged that we need to base research priorities on societal needs. I believe that those
priorities would be quite different from those we have currently."
CRN Database | Advisory Board |
Internet Discussion Lists |
Back to the Loka Home Page | Send a suggestion | How to