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A Failure to Communicate? Implications of NSF’s Broader Impacts Research Strategy for Graduate Student Governance Kelli Barr University of North Texas.

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Presentation on theme: "A Failure to Communicate? Implications of NSF’s Broader Impacts Research Strategy for Graduate Student Governance Kelli Barr University of North Texas."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Failure to Communicate? Implications of NSF’s Broader Impacts Research Strategy for Graduate Student Governance Kelli Barr University of North Texas

2 Session Abstract How can graduate student governments prepare future researchers to be more competitive for federal research and development grants? In what ways can we train tomorrow’s scholars for tomorrow’s knowledge needs? Since 1997, the National Science Foundation, which annually funds $7 billion in federal research and development, has insisted that researchers applying for grant research funding enumerate the broader societal benefits of any proposed project. Where previously the merit review procedure asked proposers to evaluate only the intellectual merit of their research, this process now incorporates an additional criterion: project proposers must demonstrate attentiveness to how audiences beyond their disciplinary peers may utilize the results of funded projects. However, until recently the Broader Impacts Criterion has all but been ignored in the course of NSF’s merit review processes. Researchers have been mostly confused and inclined to treat societal impacts as a simple check box for bureaucratic accountability. However, at its root the clash between NSF and researchers over Broader Impacts is an issue of academic self-governance, and is an increasingly important one for young researchers. This session will focus on how graduate student governments can play a central role in preparing future scholars to compete effectively in such a funding environment. Particular points of discussion include how graduate student governments can be critical for promoting the idea of ‘owning’ the broader impacts of one’s work – in the sense of taking advantage of opportunities for self-governance — and how to promote attention to broader impacts among student constituents with the aim of increasing fruitful connections between universities and broader communities.

3 A Story about Science Policy

4 VS Rebel Alliance Galactic Republic

5 Frontlines of the Battlefield “Coburn Amendment” (H.R. 933, S.AMEND.26): To prohibit the use of funds to carry out the functions of the Political Science Program in the Division of Social and Economic Sciences of the Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences of the National Science Foundation, except for research projects that the Director of the National Science Foundation certifies as promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.

6 So we want Rebels to win, right? Rep. Lamar Smith’s “additional layer of accountability” Sen. Coburn’s “promoting national security [and] economic interests” The issue seems to be the politicization of science

7 Nes/Yo… Demand for accountability is not going away - Government Performance and Results Act - America COMPETES Reauthorization Act (2010) Indicative of larger policy shift over past two decades: traditional justifications for funding basic research are no longer persuasive.

8 So what? Research culture is not simply something to be inherited, but something over which we should take ownership. So: how do we leverage this to meet our needs and serve our interests?

9 Broader Impacts Arm yourself with information Two sides of the funding coin Broader Impacts Workshops Partner with Administration Small research grants Research exhibitions


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