At Science Progress, Britt Holbrook points out that the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 is waiting to be voted on, and that while everyone seemed to be fixated on its $84 billion price tag, there is an overlooked aspect of the bill: its attempt to clarify the National Science Foundation's Broader Impacts Criterion policy. A subsection of this bill aims to explain what "broader impact" means by listing goals and policy recommendations. The eight goals include increasing the economic competitiveness of the US, encouraging academia-industry partnerships, and improving science literacy, among others. The policy section calls for the development of metrics to use in BIC review, for institutions to provide support for researchers to address broader impact, and to have investigators show that they have such support. "Champions of BIC share, with other scientists and engineers and no doubt with some members of Congress, the belief that investments in science and engineering lead to societal benefits," Holbrook says. "A belief they seem not to share with those scientists and engineers resistant to BIC, however, is that if science and engineering do lead to societal benefits, we ought to be able to demonstrate that fact."
The Broader Impact of Science
Sep 17, 2010