The Council of Scientific Society Presidents has evolved since its formation in 1973 into the nation’s premier center of science policy development and science leadership development. CSSP successes have been built on the effectiveness of communications among our members. Earlier in our history, the pace of change permitted us to consider ideas and actions over a period of years before action was necessary. Our semi-annual meetings sufficed to provide the communications needed for effective decisions and the time to ensure their evolution into new national policy and actions. The 21st Century brings with it a pace of change that no longer permits this luxury. Today, portable universal communication and networking is continuous.
We have experienced five decades of unprecedented growth in science investment and scientific discovery. The last decade of the 20th Century witnessed the end of the Cold War – appreciated only in retrospect as a major driver of that discovery and investment – followed by the abrupt halt of the growth of federal investment in science. International economic competition has caused a shift in our industrial investment in research from long-term to short-term, so that now only about 5 percent of industrial research is in fundamental science. While these two developments are serious and need our attention, even more disturbing is evidence that every year this century our nation’s children completed high school at the bottom of the scale in mathematics and science achievement, when compared to the rest of the world.
The health and robustness of the scientific endeavor underpins our nation’s future. Our community of scientists looks forward to the 21stCentury as an unparalleled period of development in new fundamental knowledge, of research-based economic growth, of development of human potential through effective life-long learning, of preemptive health care, and of world-wide environmentally sustainable development. More than two-thirds of commercial patents derive from university-based federally funded scientific research. Our return on investment over decades of measurement of federally funded scientific research is 25-50% a year-year after year-indicating a significant degree of underinvestment. The growth in that small fraction of our GDP that encompassed the young “high tech” industries accounted for one-third to one-half of national economic growth in the 1990s, and today is growing. While we began the 21st Century with the largest federal budget surplus in history (due in large part to past federal investments in fundamental science), now economic errors have produced ever growing deficits on a scale not seen before. In the difficult transition of the start of the 21st Century, we faced ongoing rapid readjustment to new political, economic, and scientific realities. We have entered an era characterized by new challenges that require innovative solutions to maintain our security, and our freedom and liberty. We now face serious threats to our future – from climate change, economic and educational stagnation, fossil energy, and environmental decay. The consequences of monstrous national debt and negative trade balances are a dark cloud over future investment in science. The science community will help the Nation to overcome these threats: we are unalterably committed to ensuring that freedom and liberty prevail as the future direction of mankind.
CSSP is taking responsibility and leadership to establish those policies and programs that will ensure a bright future for 21st Century science. We have established our own goals for the 21st Century: i) newer understandings of nature, ii) achieving sustainable systems, iii) maximizing lifelong learning, iv) preempting mental/physical disease, v) vibrant economic systems, vi) sustainable energy autonomy, vii) ensuring that universities deliver maximum value to society, and viii) re-imagining science as the foundation for creating the most positive futures. We must envision what and how we want the future to be and provide the leadership and vigilance to ensure that we seize every opportunity to make our vision happen.
CSSP works to ensure a strong scientific future for the nation. CSSP can look back on many achievements in developing leaders and growing influence. We track specifically university-based and peer-reviewed research investments. We design enduring institutions to support science. CSSP keeps in touch with and advises all members of Congress interested in and working on issues relevant to science and mathematics, as well as heads of federal agencies regarding their plans and policies for science and technology. This successful activity is made possible through our unique network of the top science leadership worldwide.
We are now designing and implementing major unique projects to make a better future. We are the constituency for the future, and that requires that we perpetually expand the quality of our scientific leadership and master the skills of creative leadership and change leadership.