The University Record, October 10, 1994

Greenwood: We must raise levels of scientific, technical literacy

By Sally Pobojewski
News and Information Services

M.R.C. Greenwood, associate director for science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, spent a day here last week to discuss the new context of science in an era of limited resources and shifting priorities.

“Scientists and policy-makers face the challenge of articulating the relationship between the pursuit of science and the long-term economic health of the nation,” Greenwood told her audience on Oct. 3 in Rackham Amphitheater.

Greenwood’s visit was part of the University’s Distinguished Lecture Series on National Research Policy, which is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research.

“To have science in the national interest, it’s important to sustain a national interest in science,” she said. “To accomplish this, we must raise the level of scientific and technical literacy in this country and help the general population understand how scientific research is related to their health and public safety.”

During her lecture, Greenwood described the social, economic and political context in which science has existed since World War II. She explained how American universities are currently undergoing a difficult transformation from a post-World War II era of explosive growth to a new era characterized by “stabilization and politicalization.”

Greenwood cited several goals and recommendations and requested feedback from her audience on “Science in the National Interest”—the Clinton Administration’s new national science policy statement, which she helped develop.

“In this document, President Clinton and Vice President Gore stress the need for long-term investments in science and science education,” Greenwood said. “If we are unable to overcome national scientific illiteracy and improve K-12 science education, we are putting this nation at risk.”

Greenwood has served in the Office of Science and Technology Policy since 1993. She previously was dean of graduate studies at the University of California, Davis, and the John Guy Vassar Professor of Natural Sciences at Vassar College. Her research, focusing on the genetic causes of obesity, is recognized worldwide.