Is there a crisis in the relations between research universities and the federal government? Is our system, which has been the most successful in the world, breaking down? The Fragile Contract brings together essays by scientists, university leaders, scholars, and seasoned science watchers from government agencies and nonprofit groups to address this issue. Neither advocacy nor polemic, it explores the social contexts for and influences on research in the university setting to encourage greater understanding of core issues by both politicians and scientists. The contributors offer concrete suggestions for building the foundation of a firmer contract that reflects current realities. The Fragile Contract appears at a time when congressional committees have openly questioned whether scientists are capable of policing fraud in their own ranks, and when fundamental agreements that have covered reimbursements to the universities throughout the post-World War II period have been called into question. It also addresses the problems of finding science after the Cold War and as well as the problems faced by universities in an international context. The Fragile Contract reveals that we are seeing not so much a crisis as a reflection of changing times: Neither science nor government is the same institution that it was when the modern social contract between the two was forged in the late 1940s. The authors agree that all parties must make major adjustments to the new environment, and research universities must become more active in promoting links to the local and national community.
The Fragile Contract, David H. Guston and Kenneth Keniston • Universities, the Public, and the Government, Charles M. Vest • Doing One's Damnedest: The Evolution of Trust in Scientific Findings, Gerald Holton • Integrity and Accountability in Research, Patricia Woolf • The Public Faces of Science, Dorothy Nelkin • How Large an R&D Enterprise?: Reinventing the Government-University Compact, Daryl E. Chubin • Views from the Benches: Funding Biomedical Research and Funding the Physical Sciences, Phillip A. Sharp and Daniel Kleppner • Financing Science after the Cold War, Harvey M. Sapolsky • Indirect Costs and the Government-University Partnership, Peter Likins and Albert H. Teich • Science and Technology in Universities in a Technologically Competitive World, Eugene B. Skolnikoff • Concluding Remarks, David Hamburg