Letter from the Editor

bridges vol. 34, July 2012 / Letter from the Editor

Dear Reader,

Summer is in full swing and we hope you are enjoying your well-deserved vacation. We've put together a bridges issue that will hopefully provide you with an interesting read while sitting at the beach or, if you are a more active type, with podcast episodes to listen to while on a bike, a hike, or wherever your explorations lead you.

One highlight of the 2012 summer is certainly the Olympic Summer Games, which will begin in a little more than a week in London. If you think the Olympics and science have very little in common, think again! Roger A. Pielke, Jr., in his column "Science, Sex and the Olympics," once more shows us that informed, science-based decision making affects our lives in many ways – even in regard to sporting competitions.

In response to Roger's column "The Great American Manufacturing Battle," in the recent spring issue of bridges, our Innovation Matters columnist Steve Ezell wrote an excellent piece on "Joining the Great American Manufacturing Battle" for this issue of bridges, offering a different perspective and policy recommendations regarding the US manufacturing sector.

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As always, bridges dedicates an entire section to the activities of Austrian scientists and researchers in North America. Take a look at the Moves and Milestones to learn about the impressive career steps of Austrian researchers, or read the in-depth portrait of Anton Korinek, who, at only 34 years of age, can already look back on an impressive career as an economist with a focus on international financial markets. He came to the US some 10 years ago to do his Ph.D. at Columbia University, sponsored by Joseph E. Stiglitz, and is now an assistant professor of economics at the University of Maryland. We spoke with Anton about his views of the current economic crisis and the potential of macroprudential regulations for financial markets for reducing the risk that another economic crisis of this dimension might occur again.

For many, especially in tough economic situations, obtaining a good education means the key to a better life. We have two feature articles in this issue dedicated to this topic:

"Research Universities and the Future of America" provides you with a short summary of the findings and recommendations of the recently published and long-awaited NAS report on US research universities. While the US is still considered the home of many of the world's best research universities, there is some concern that its leadership is endangered and policy measures may need to be taken to ensure the continuing high quality of US academic research, which has contributed significantly to US prosperity and economic leadership over recent decades.

The second article "MIT OpenCourseWare in the New Era of Online Learning" puts the spotlight on open educational resources, a concept that was first introduced by MIT some ten years ago. MIT's OpenCourseWare project has profoundly impacted the classical notion of academic learning, changing how and to whom that academic knowledge is made accessible.

I hope you find some interesting reading in this issue of bridges and wish you an enjoyable, and relaxing, summer.


With kind regards,

Caroline Adenberger