Democracy in U.S.
Science and Technology Policy
The Feb. 27, 1998 issue of Science
magazine (the flagship publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science)
includes an editorial by Richard Sclove, the Loka Institute's executive director, calling for broader
societal representation in science policymaking.
The fact that Science magazine would
publish such an essay is one indication that a post-Cold War thaw is finally underway in U.S.
science and technology institutions. You can help accelerate that thaw, and press for more social
responsiveness in U.S. science and technology policies, by communicating your views to the
Clinton Administration and to Congress. Please send a short note
supporting Loka's editorial, and adding your own views or
recommendations, to one or all of the following:
1. Rep. Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives,
has asked the House Science Committee to propose a post-Cold War U.S.
science policy. Visit the
page for this process, and leave a comment there. Committee staff
tell us that your comment will have more impact if it is polite,
substantive, specific, and succinct (ideally no more than one page long;
two pages maximum).
Staff will ask you for follow-up information if they are interested.
2. President Clinton has just announced proposed changes in his
science policy advisors and administrators. E-mail your comments on
U.S. science policy to outgoing Presidential Science Advisor,
Dr. John Gibbons; to newly nominated Presidential Science Advisor, Dr.
Neal Lane; and to the newly nominated director of the U.S. National
Science Foundation, Dr. Rita Colwell. If you are writing before
March 13, 1998, you might mention your concern that Vice President Gore (and
possibly President Clinton) is scheduled to participate in a March 13th "National Summit" on Innovation, organized at
MIT by the Council on Competitivenss (COC); the attendees of
this event--which is closed to the public, but open to the
COC's corporate and university executives--will "vote"
their preferences on U.S. R&D policy. (For info about the
COC, go to
http://nii.nist.gov/coc/coc.html on the Web.)
3. If you want to discuss the democratization of U.S. science and
technology policy with
others, subscribe to
FASTnet (the listserv of the Federation of Activists on Science &
Technology Network), and post your comments there.
4. From 19 Dec. 1997-12 Feb. 1998 the American Association
for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which publishes Science
magazine, organized an online forum--the AAAS Conversation on
Science and Society. The AAAS forum is not currently accepting
new posts, but you can read the archives (on the Web at
and keep tabs on the AAAS Web pages
future forums promised for later in 1998.