America the Global Leader in Science and Technology
Science is not a divine revelation but it provides a means for the welfare of man and to better understanding the creation of Allah (SWT), the natural phenomena and their purpose. In simplest terms science means knowledge and Islam exhorts its followers to relentlessly pursue knowledge.
One-third of the Qur'an exhorts its readers to think and reflect upon the natural phenomena. One of the most inspiring Ayath (verses) in the Qur'an is the following:
" And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are signs indeed for those who reflect." (45: 13)
The more one investigates the more one knows about Allah (SWT) and His design of the universe. Allah (SWT) has given us the faculties and the intellectual genius for this purpose.
The Role of Science
America's status as the world leader of technological innovation is seriously threatened, unless an innovative partnership is created the primary movers and shakers of R&D (Research and Development) in this country (industry, government and academia).
A research university plays an important national role in educating America's scientists, discovering new knowledge and developing technological innovation. In order to maintain the technological leadership Government must continue to stimulate civilian research, foster research partnerships, create a business climate more conducive to private sector R&D, refocus federal research to today's missions and budget environment, and maintain its support of American universities.
Academia should give priority to developing the nation's human capital in science and technology in emphasizing universities' teaching mission, and promote R&D partnerships. Graduate study should be restructured to open a broader spectrum of career opportunities to Ph.D. students and to develop a credible practice-oriented master's degree. Education that is limited to a single sub-field does not equip students adequately for either the academic world or the corporate world. Universities should work with industry to explore different emphases in graduate programs. Creating master's degree programs geared to the needs of the workplace would be particularly valuable.
Everything possible should be done to attract and keep students interested in science and engineering. More industrial internships should be created to bring additional real world and teamwork experiences into the classroom. Universities must pay more attention to the nature and quality of introductory science and engineering courses. Federal research grants should be used in a way that enhances the quality of undergraduate and graduate education at the same time Universities must alter policies, particularly those of tenure and promotion for the Faculty members. Programs should be developed with companies that encourage both graduate students and faculty to gain experience in industrial laboratories, universities. Universities and industries should work together toward intellectual property rights, and to promote partnerships.
Government agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, and the Department of Energy should strengthen science, engineering and long-term growth by extensively promoting basic research as basic research is critical to fostering technological progress in research-intensive industries. Although private companies have increased their total R&D spending in recent years, only a small portion of their spending goes to basic research. The return on research investment to the economy and society is remarkable. Prominent economists unanimously agree that over the last 50 years, advances in science and technology have produced more than half of America’s economic growth. No other federal investment generates a greater long-term return to the economy and society than does basic research.
Technological innovations have contributed more than any other single factor in America’s economic history to long-term growth. A great many of these technological innovations have grown out of publicly funded research, much of which has been undertaken at America’s universities. In the last twenty years, legislative and fiscal conditions in the United States have enhanced the ability of universities to interface directly with the market, thus increasing substantially the opportunities for private capital to benefit from public investments in scientific research. Private companies, both established industrial giants and emerging entrepreneurial ventures, have built on America’s foundation of publicly funded scientific research, investing capital and capturing the innovations that drive American economy forward. These investments have created multiple new industries, thousands of firms, and hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Scientific and technological change accounts for over 50 percent of long-term economic growth.
Technology and Economy
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has said that "the phenomenal performance of the U.S. economy, with its strong growth, low inflation, low unemployment, and high business profits is due in large part to technological innovations that have caused productivity growth to accelerate." Federal research also helps educate and train the next generation of scientists and engineers, which is especially critical today to help meet the growing demand for skilled workers in the new economy. In October 2002, United States Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan argued that we live and work in a global environment “in which prospects for economic growth now depend importantly on a country's capacity to develop and apply new technologies.” “If we are to remain preeminent in transforming knowledge into economic value,” says Greenspan, “the U.S. system of higher education must remain the world's leader in generating scientific and technological breakthroughs and in preparing workers to meet the evolving demands for skilled labor.” “Prospects for economic growth now depend importantly on a country's capacity to develop and apply new technologies.” –Alan Greenspan.
For America to remain the world leader in science and innovative technology, instruction in the Universities must keep up with a profoundly complex and changing world. This could be achieved by highlighting the importance of mathematics and science education and encourage more students to pursue these studies. More students need to study advanced scientific and technical subjects. Parents need to encourage and prepare their children for success in a world that requires the ability to understand and apply knowledge of mathematics and science. There is an urgent need to increase the number of science and mathematics teachers in America's schools who are trained well in the subjects they are teaching. Unfortunately today in America, more than half of the middle school mathematics teachers and nearly half of the science teachers did not major or minor in the subjects they are teaching.
To help schools attract the best and the brightest mathematics and science teachers to our nation's classrooms, President Bush's 2004 budget calls on Congress to provide a few billion dollars, and gives monetary incentives to teachers in mathematics and sciences. It also gives mathematics and science teachers better tools to teach, particularly to understand what helps children learn these critical skills.
Technology and Economic Growth
President George W. Bush has requested the largest federal R&D budget in history, $112 billion for FY03 alone. Major public investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which has seen its budget double in the last 5 years to nearly $27 billion for FY02 alone, has enabled the United States to both create a science and technology base in biotechnology and leverage substantial private investment in product and process applications. American universities have spun off more than 2,200 companies to commercialize innovations that were produced out of research. Created 260,000 jobs in the process. Now contribute $40 billion annually to the American economy.
When knowledge is produced, the benefits not only accrue to the producer, they “spill over” to the local economy. Technological innovations drive much of our economic growth at the national level, but it is local economic environments that enable this growth to occur. States can draw private capital to invest in the building of regional Centers in science and innovation and act as catalysts for regional and national economic growth.
Muslim countries can thrive in science and technology by introducing Interdisciplinary studies, by providing with job opportunities to skilled students who have strong university education. Other steps are rewarding meritocracy, upholding Democracy, Human rights, and free markets. Governments should support science and technology with mutual exchange of international students and scholars, publications of research articles, journals, books, holding conferences and transfer of ideas. The Federal government should put aside at least 10 percent of its National budget to Support education, research and development.
1. Frank H.T. Rhodes. US Research and Development Efforts. Cornell University Science News. April 16, 1996.
3. Bruce M. Alberts. Meeting the Education Challenge. Feb. 1998. www.nap.edu/
4. National Council for Science and Environment March 6, 2001. www.cnie.org/updates/90htm
5. Alan Greenspan. Summit on the 21st Century work force. June 20, 2001, MCI Center, Washington, D.C. (www.dol.gov/21cw/greenspan_speech)
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