Policy Statements » Letters from the President:

May 16, 2006

Honorable xxx
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator x:

I am writing with regard to S. 2802, the bill introduced by Senators Ensign, Stevens, and Hutchison addressing American innovation and competitiveness. As you know, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee plans to mark up the bill on Thursday, May 18.

As President of the Ecological Society of America, a 90-year old scientific society with nearly 10,000 members, I am concerned that Section 307(b) of this bill fails to recognize the key contributions the social and behavioral sciences bring to American competitiveness. In particular, with regard to research support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), this omission is glaring. Accordingly, we ask that Section 307(b) be broadened to include all contributions to American innovation and competitiveness in the global economy.

Many of us in the “hard sciences” recognize the valuable role the social sciences play in such areas as understanding human responses to rapid and pervasive environmental changes and to technological changes. The NSF fosters the necessary cross-fertilization between the physical, social and biological sciences that continue to propel the country’s innovation power and quality of life.

The National Academy of Sciences’ Gathering Storm report, which served as an impetus for this bill, captures the correct sentiment by stating, “ .….this special attention [to the physical sciences] does not mean that there should be a disinvestment in such important fields as the life sciences or the social sciences. A balanced research portfolio in all fields of science and engineering research is critical to U.S. prosperity. Increasingly, the most significant new scientific and engineering advances are formed to cut across several disciplines.”

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this request.


Nancy B. Grimm