News Release 

New book examines how science and technology policies have shaped America and the world

Science policy expert and physicist Michael Lubell's narrative explores how America became the global leader in science and technological innovation, and it provides prescriptions for shaping future policy and science advocacy

Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

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Credit: Elsevier Academic Press

NEW YORK, April 15, 2019 - From establishing land-grant colleges aimed at promoting agricultural research and the industrial arts more than 150 years ago to landing the first man on the moon a half a century ago, ushering in the internet age 35 years ago, accelerating the development of medical diagnostics and cancer treatments at the dawn of the 21st century, and embarking on the creation of artificial intelligence and quantum computing, America has demonstrated its leadership in the arena of transformative science and technology (S&T). Such breakthroughs have been supported by policies that create the infrastructures and needed resources for realizing S&T advances. But as Michael Lubell, Professor of Physics at The Graduate Center, CUNY and the Mark W. Zemansky Professor of Physics at The City College of New York, writes in his new book, Navigating the Maze: How Science and Technology Policies Shape America and the World (ISBN: 9780128147108), the policymaking process is complicated and far from perfect. Although it responds to societal needs, it is also shaped by individual interests, political realities, and the influence of big business and Wall Street. Disease and war play major roles in the sausage-making as does serendipity.

Lubell's 333-page book, published by Elsevier-Academic Press, takes a deep dive into the inner workings of the world of public policy, and it provides insights into and real-world examples of S&T policymaking for anyone looking to understand how the process works in reality.

"People rarely think about the policies that provide access to things like the internet and MRIs. They pay even less attention to the decisions that paved the way for creating the technologies those things rely on -- things like smartphones, computers, and superconducting magnets," said Lubell. "Policymaking can either promote or inhibit scientific research, and it can either enable or deter the development of the technologies that flow from scientific discovery. S&T policymaking is an immensely powerful tool that has shaped the world of today and will unquestionably shape the world of tomorrow. Understanding how it works and how to use it effectively is more important than ever as technology plays an increasing role in our daily lives."

In his book, Lubell employs compelling historical narratives to highlight past and recent policy decisions that affected S&T development domestically and globally. Through his lens readers gain a better understanding of the players, their roles, and how their activities shaped S&T outcomes -- mostly, although not always intentionally, to the benefit of society. The book provides invaluable insights into the public policy arena and offers lessons for effective science advocacy.

Key Features

  • Presents compelling narratives about climate change, the internet, the Human Genome Project, the BRAIN Initiative, the Manhattan Project, the science stimulus, the origins of the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, and more.
  • Provides insights into the future of S&T through a 225-year American policy retrospective, highlighting impacts on health and medicine, STEM education, economic growth, energy, defense, innovation, and industrial competitiveness.
  • Illuminates the role of S&T on the global stage, from diplomatic engagement to military intervention and from scientific collaboration to technological competition.

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*For a copy of the manuscript, please contact Shawn Rhea at 212-817-7180 or srhea@gc.cuny.edu.

About The Graduate Center of The City University of New York

The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY) is a leader in public graduate education devoted to enhancing the public good through pioneering research, serious learning, and reasoned debate. The Graduate Center offers ambitious students more than 40 doctoral and master's programs of the highest caliber, taught by top faculty from throughout CUNY -- the nation's largest public urban university. Through its nearly 40 centers, institutes, and initiatives, including its Advanced Science Research Center (ASRC), The Graduate Center influences public policy and discourse and shapes innovation. The Graduate Center's extensive public programs make it a home for culture and conversation.

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