Thank you, George. In representing the MacArthur Foundation today, I am pleased to join Under-Secretary Dobriansky, the excellent team in your office, and my colleagues at the National Academies, AAAS, and Carnegie Corporation in congratulating this year’s Jefferson Science Fellows.
MacArthur sees the Jefferson Program as a vital initiative at a crucial time. Scientific and technological discoveries are at the very center of profound problems shaping the history of the 21st century. Whether it’s preventing mass pandemics, preventing nuclear proliferation; achieving energy security, or addressing climate change, the list of global problems requiring S&T inputs is long – and our need for scientists who can communicate with policymakers is greater than ever.
Sound policy requires accurate and objective analysis as government contemplates new possibilities and dangers resulting from scientific advances. And scientists can learn much from the policymaking process – as they seek to apply discoveries in fields like genetics, biochemistry, and cyber-technology – discoveries that sometimes come faster than our capacity to comprehend their wider implications for security as well as development.
The Jefferson Program is a key element of MacArthur’s multi-year, $50 million investment in strengthening the links between scientists and policy makers. That broader initiative supports more than 40 universities and policy institutes around the world. In addition to nearly $1 million of foundation investment in this program, MacArthur has also helped create a new resource for those in Congress as well as the Executive Branch at the AAAS Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy.
As the Jefferson Program enters its third year, we want to recognize the leadership of Secretary Rice and Under-Secretary Dobriansky, and applaud George Atkinson for his vision. From the moment George first raised the idea with us in 2002, MacArthur knew this was a timely and practical initiative for deepening the relationship between the nation’s top scientists and diplomats.
My colleagues and I were delighted to learn about this accomplished new class of Jefferson Fellows. The depth and breadth of their interdisciplinary expertise is dazzling. The class represents scientific institutions large and small, and each of our distinguished fellows is a proven communicator of knowledge to audiences beyond their primary discipline. We applaud your decision to devote a year to public service and we look forward to learning about your experiences.
Many of us were present at the brainstorm workshop for the Jefferson Program. It is worth remembering now the reasonable questions we had then: Would the fellows be able to feed their expertise into the channels of this building? Would they have a demonstrable impact? When they returned to universities, would their experience be viewed positively enough to attract future classes of equal distinction?
>Over the past two years, we have heard positive answers to all of these questions. In discussions with past fellows, we have been delighted to hear that most felt warmly welcomed by the Department, appreciated by their supervisors, and fully engaged in important issues where their expertise added value. We very much hope that relationships forged through this program will pay dividends into the future, as the alumni Fellows remain available to the Department for the next five years.
So we are in the third lap of a long-distance effort. Now the challenge is to transition to a program that is fully integrated within the Department. MacArthur is prepared to support such a transition and we look forward to hearing about these plans tomorrow.
Thus far, the Jefferson Science Program represents a shining example of how philanthropy and government can make common cause in the service of our country. We live in uncertain times that call for fresh insight and thoughtful action on multiple fronts. I am thinking, for example, of threats from terrorism, new infectious diseases, energy shortages, and the ability to exploit new technologies to cause mass harm.
The world needs State Department leadership informed by the nation’s top scientific experts and the MacArthur Foundation is pleased to play its part.
Congratulations to the fellows who have already served and to those who have just arrived. We are grateful for your service and we wish you well in the months ahead.