The United States Is Falling Behind in the Global Science Race, Says Survey

( — This year’s State of Science in America report was published on Tuesday, December 5th, by the Science and Technology Action Committee (STAC), and the results are not great for America.

The report compiled responses from 2000 workers in many different science and science-adjacent fields like STEM, health care, business, K–12 education, and the military and national security sectors. Sudip Parikh, co-chair of the Science and Technology Action Committee, says that the big takeaway from the report is that many people in those fields are worried that America has lost, or is in the process of losing, its competitive edge in science and technology. He adds that those surveyed all pointed to education as the prime factor, particularly K–12 education. The report recommends increased federal funding for science and technology education for America’s youth.

People working in different fields showed differing opinions on some of the issues under consideration. More than 75% of workers in STEM-related jobs believe that the US is already being surpassed in science and technological advancement by other countries, or soon will be. Of those, 60% believe that China will be the new world leader in science and technology. Some are concerned that China is a national security threat to America, but only half the respondents in STEM fields are worried about that, while 80% of workers in the national security sector are worried. However, nearly 70% of respondents across all fields rated the US STEM education system as poor or merely fair. Parikh says that in order for the U.S. to lead globally, the nation needs to prioritize science and technology well into the future.

While fear of being left behind or even undermined is a concern for many of the people who were polled, the report still recommends U.S. collaboration with China on certain issues, such as climate change.

Interestingly, the same call for more government support for scientific research and education was made in 1945 by Vannevar Bush, the science adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II. In a letter to Bush in 1945, Roosevelt brought up all the questions the scientific community still struggles with today. He shared modern Americans’ concern for national security and the dedication to better scientific education for the youth of the nation, and he was also trying to understand the proper role of government in both public and private research.

The annual reports by STAC may show that America still needs to work on these issues, but they also show that Americans are still dedicated to improving their scientific standing.

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