Selected Readings

Bridges vol. 39, May 2014 / Selected Readings

A selection of recent noteworthy publications in science, technology, education and innovation policy, and related areas


 

Land UseLand use: consequences on soil organic carbon content: A case study from a farm in Upper Austria

By Jasmin Karer
AV AkademikerVerlag, 2014
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This study investigates carbon storage potential by focusing on natural vegetation, organic farming, reforestation, and lowering the use of tillage and fertilizers – all with key roles in reducing CO2 emissions. The case study, which uses a farm in Upper Austria, shows that the investigated soils failed to reach equilibrium after being disturbed, despite their potential for storing more carbon. Organic farming and land-use management can restore carbon in the soil but, since many of the world’s soils are exploited, there remains a high potential for capturing CO2 emissions through carbon storage. Soil carbon content changes over long periods of time, so Karer emphasizes that it is now essential to implement measures for carbon storage in order to mitigate climate change. This effort is imperative not only for reducing the use of fossil fuels and changing to renewable energy, but also for increasing the role of soil management in reducing CO2 emissions.
 
The Academy of Sciences in Vienna 1938 to 1945
By Johannes Feichtinger, Herbert Matis, Stefan Sienell, Heidemarie Uhl (eds.)
VÖAW, 2014
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In 2013, the Academy of Sciences used the 75th the “Anschluss” in March 1938 as an occasion to publish a catalog investigating the reactions of the Academy to the Nazi power takeover. The book looks at how the “Anschluss” of Austria by the National Socialist German Reich in March 1938 marked a profound turning point for the Academy of Sciences in Vienna. With the Nazis’ seizure of power, Academy members and staff members were forced to leave to avoid persecution, and many died in Nazi concentration camps. Organizations such as the Institute for Radium Research, the Vivarium, and the Phonogram Archive lost key research personnel, and worldwide pioneering research programs and international research collaborations shut down. Under the Academy’s new Nazi leadership, the society’s autonomy was diminished and research projects were carried out in support of Nazi ideology.

 
Making in America: from Innovation to Market
By Suzanne Berger
MIT Press, 2013
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As a world leader in innovation, the United States is full of start-ups, labs, and companies. Yet, with globalization, these groups have been moving abroad to reach commercial scale. How does this movement impact economic growth and job creation? MIT scientists, engineers, social scientists, and management experts visited more than 250 firms in the United States, Germany, and China. In companies across America, these experts tried to learn how the US could rebuild the industrial landscape to sustain an innovative economy. At each stop, they asked the basic question: “When you have a new idea, how do you get it into the market?” Researchers found gaping holes and missing pieces in the industrial ecosystem. Critical strengths and capabilities that once helped bring new enterprises to life have disappeared: Among these are production capacity; small and medium-size suppliers; and spillovers of research, training, and new technology from big corporations. Even in an Internet-connected world, proximity to innovation and users matters for industry. Making in America describes ways to strengthen this connection, including public-private collaborations, new institutes for government-initiated manufacturing innovation, and industry-community college projects. If the US can learn from these ongoing experiments in linking innovation to production, American manufacturing could have a renaissance.
 

OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2013: Innovation for Growth
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2013
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Published every two years, the STI Scoreboard analyzes the major trends in knowledge and innovation in today’s global economy. Through statistical indicators, it presents a policy-oriented review of science, technology, innovation, and industrial performance in OECD and major non-OECD countries. The OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2013 draws on the latest internationally comparable data to uncover the strengths of OECD and other leading economies and explore the continuing challenges to overcoming the effects of the recent financial and economic crises. The report features indicators traditionally used to monitor developments in science, technology, innovation, and industry, and complements them with new and experimental indicators that provide new insights into areas of policy interest. The STI Scoreboard is not about “ranking” countries or developing composite indicators. It is about giving policy makers and analysts a means of comparing economies with others of similar size or similar structure and monitoring their progress towards desired national or supranational policy goals. It draws on the OECD’s efforts to build the data infrastructure needed to link actors’ outcomes and impacts; and it highlights the potential and the limits of certain metrics, while indicating directions for further work.

 

National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators 2014: A broad base of quantitative
information on the U.S. and international science and engineering enterprise
National Science Board, 2014
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Science & Engineering Indicators (SEI) is a volume of record comprising the major high-quality quantitative data on the U.S. and international science and engineering enterprise. The report is factual and policy neutral and employs a variety of presentation styles – tables, figures, narrative text, bulleted text, Web-based links, highlights, introductions, conclusions, reference lists – to make the data accessible to readers with differing information needs and information-processing preferences. The data are “indicators,” i.e., quantitative representations that might reasonably be thought to provide summary information bearing on the scope, quality, and vitality of the science and engineering enterprise. The indicators reported in SEI are intended to contribute to an understanding of the current environment and to inform the development of future policies. SEI does not model the dynamics of the science and engineering enterprise, and it avoids strong claims about the significance of the indicators it reports. Readers who use SEI hold a variety of views about which indicators are most significant for different purposes. The report is prepared by the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) under the guidance of the National Science Board. It is subject to extensive review by outside experts, interested federal agencies, Board members, and NSF internal reviewers for accuracy, coverage, and balance.

 

Autonomous Vehicle Technology: A Guide for Policymakers
By James M. Anderson, Nidhi Kalra, Karlyn D. Stanley, Paul Sorensen, Constantine Samaras, Oluwatobi A. Oluwatola
The Rand Corporation, 2014
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This report builds on RAND’s long tradition of research on advanced technologies. From their research on world-circling spaceships in 1946 to developing the conceptual foundations of the Internet in the early 1960s, RAND has long provided policymakers with guidance about tomorrow’s world. The report focuses on autonomous vehicle (AV) technology, offering the possibility of fundamentally changing transportation. Equipping cars and light vehicles with this technology will likely reduce crashes, energy consumption, and pollution—and reduce the costs of congestion. The discussed technology is most easily conceptualized using a five-part continuum suggested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with different benefits of the technology realized at different levels of automation. The authors promote that policymaking will be necessary to maximize the social benefits that this technology will enable, while minimizing the disadvantages. Yet policymakers are only beginning to think about the challenges and opportunities this technology poses. The goal of this report is to assist policymakers at the state and federal levels to make wise policy decisions in this rapidly evolving area.