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National Science Board 2020 Vision for the National Science Foundation
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nsb05142 Document Number: nsb05142
Author: National Science Board
Published: December 28, 2005
Keywords: 2020 Vision, future, transformative research, strategic priorities, S&E workforce, science literacy, investment
Available Formats: PDF
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Abstract
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The National Science Board's vision for the future is informed by a sense of the Nation, knowledge of the trajectory of global science and engineering (S&E) research, and confidence in a promising future. The Board envisions a prosperous America that is powered by innovations flowing from the latest transformative scientific ideas with a workforce among the most scientifically and technically competent on the planet. The United States has the science and technology base from which to realize this vision. The ability to understand and influence complex systems is changing - and will continue to change - human society more rapidly and far more profoundly than has been experienced in previous agricultural, industrial, and technological revolutions. Perhaps most importantly, the development of communications technology and systems worldwide allows new generations of professionals to live and work globally. These breathtaking advances challenge the National Science Foundation (NSF, the Foundation) to reexamine its role in the global scientific enterprise and to focus its attention and resources sharply at the frontiers of knowledge generation.


Executive Summary
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The National Science Board's (the Board's) vision for the future is informed by a sense of our Nation, our knowledge of the trajectory of global science and engineering (S&E) research, and our confidence in a promising future. History suggests that a nation that relinquishes the torch of science puts its future prosperity at risk and jeopardizes its place in the history of civilization.

The Board believes that we must not let this fate befall our country. The Board envisions a prosperous America that is powered by innovations flowing from the latest transformative scientific ideas with a workforce among the most scientifically and technically competent on the planet. We see an America in which every student graduates from high school with a sufficient grasp of the fundamental concepts in science and technology to live a full and productive life in an increasingly technological world and whose research and higher education enterprises - among the most creative and fruitful in the world - bring together the best minds for inquiry, discovery, and teaching. The Board also envisions an America whose knowledge, skills, and values are respected and influential in setting the aspirations and policies of the global research and technology enterprise. The United States has the science and technology base from which to realize this vision. America's strength in fundamental research, coupled with consistent investments in science and technology over the past half-century, has attracted the best and brightest from around the world. The rapid intellectual advances achieved by this enterprise have produced major economic benefits and improvements to our quality of life. These investments have brought us to the dawn of a new era of explosive progress in science and engineering, one that holds not only the promise of dramatic insights into the fundamental nature of matter and the universe, but also into the most complex of phenomena, ranging from global weather to economic and social systems and the biological ecosystems that underpin our existence.

This new era is made possible by an unprecedented and continually increasing ability to observe the physical world, to simulate both natural and man-made systems in ways never before imagined, to efficiently store and analyze vast amounts of data, and to communicate information globally. The ability to understand and influence complex systems is changing - and will continue to change - human society more rapidly and far more profoundly than has been experienced in previous agricultural, industrial, and technological revolutions. Perhaps most importantly, the development of communications technology and systems worldwide allows new generations of professionals to live and work globally. These breathtaking advances challenge the National Science Foundation (NSF, the Foundation) to reexamine its role in the global scientific enterprise and to focus its attention and resources sharply at the frontiers of knowledge generation.

The National Science Board's 2020 Vision for NSF is that the Foundation will:

  • Drive the cutting edge of fundamental and transformative research;
  • Tap the talents of all our citizens, particularly those belonging to groups that are underrepresented in the science and research enterprise, and continue to attract foreign students and scientists to the U.S.;
  • Develop and test new approaches to teaching science to elementary and secondary school students and catalyze partnerships among schools, museums, aquariums, and universities to put these techniques into effective practice;
  • Provide the bright minds in our research institutions with the tools and instruments needed to probe the frontiers of knowledge and develop ideas that can transform our understanding of the world; and
  • Maintain the financial and talent resources to be an effective agent for excellence in the critical national enterprises of learning, discovery, and innovation.


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