The US government's landmark report Science — The Endless Frontier was published 65 years ago last month. Commissioned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and prepared by electrical engineer Vannevar Bush, who directed US government research during the Second World War, the document distilled the lessons of wartime into proposals for subsequent federal support of science. Although its bold recommendations were only partly implemented, the document is ripe for reappraisal today: it marked the beginning of modern science policy. Bush's report called for a centralized approach to government-sponsored science, largely shielded from political accountability. The creation of the National Science Foundation in 1950, a small agency with a limited mandate, was far from the sweeping reform set out in the 30-page report and its appendices. However, its publication ushered in a new era in which science was viewed as vital for progress towards national goals in health, defence and the economy. Government funding for research and development consequently increased by more than a factor of ten from the 1940s to the 1960s. The influence of Science —The Endless Frontier stems largely from its timing, coming at the tail end of a war in which science-based technology had been crucial.
Nature – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 18, 2010
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