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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)

Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson Calls for Presidential Debate on Science, Technology, and Innovation

February 15, 2008

Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson Calls for Presidential Debate on Science, Technology, and Innovation

Signs on to Science Debate 2008

Troy, N.Y. — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson has joined the call for a Presidential debate on science, technology, and innovation in advance of the November 2008 general election, and urged others to sign on.

She joins a bipartisan coalition of more than 100 leading scientists, engineers, and others in government, academe, business, and the media, who have come together to urge the Presidential candidates to participate in Science Debate 2008.  Launched in December 2007, this initiative has now been endorsed by more than 16,000 concerned citizens. The candidates have been invited to a debate on April 18, 2008 in Philadelphia.

“The economy, national security, and health care have been the primary focus of the debates to date, but many of the solutions to those challenges are rooted in science, technology, and innovation,” President Jackson said.

 “Ask yourself if your life and/or livelihood will be affected by the policies, programs, and tone of the next President on issues of science, technology, and innovation.  If the answer is ‘yes,’ — and it should be — I invite you to join in this effort to have a focused discussion on these critical issues,” Jackson said.

“Energy policy is a perfect example,” Jackson says. “Global energy security is the greatest challenge of our time, inextricably interlinked with our economic and national security. The exponential demand for energy worldwide — and the link to climate change — presents extraordinary geopolitical challenges and offers extraordinary economic opportunities, yet the United States does not have a comprehensive energy roadmap. It is essential to understand what the next President will do to put us on the pathway to global energy security and sustainability, yet there has been a surprisingly limited discussion on these issues.”

Saying that “global energy security is the space race of this millennium,” Jackson has urged a national focus on energy research as a focal point to excite and encourage greater interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). She has long warned of what she has dubbed a “Quiet Crisis” in America — the threat to the capacity of the United States to innovate due to reduced support for research and the looming shortage in the nation’s STEM workforce. The impending workforce shortfall results from a record number of retirements on the horizon in the STEM fields and not enough students in the pipeline to replace them.

“Swift and bold action will be required of the next President if we are to avert this looming crisis and sustain our national capacity for innovation,” says Jackson, President of the nation’s oldest technological research university. “As we witnessed in the 1960s in response to the launch of Sputnik, this nation has a tremendous capacity to rise to great challenges. But it will require strong national leadership to spark a new generation of innovation.”

Jackson, former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1995-99), is co-chairing the Council on Competitiveness “Energy Security, Innovation & Sustainability Initiative,” convening leaders in business, academe, and labor to craft an agenda to enhance U.S. competitiveness and global energy security. She also is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Independent Task Force on Climate Change and the Brookings Institution’s Energy Initiative.

For information or to register support for Science Debate 2008, go to:

For information on the “Quiet Crisis” go to:

For information on “Global Energy Security” go to:

Contact: Theresa Bourgeois
Phone: (518) 276-2840