Science, the Endless Frontier is recognized as the landmark argument for the essential role of science in society and government’s responsibility to support scientific endeavors. First issued when Vannevar Bush was the director of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development during the Second World War, this classic remains vital in making the case that scientific progress is necessary to a nation’s health, security, and prosperity. Bush’s vision set the course for US science policy for more than half a century, building the world’s most productive scientific enterprise. Today, amid a changing funding landscape and challenges to science’s very credibility, Science, the Endless Frontier resonates as a powerful reminder that scientific progress and public well-being alike depend on the successful symbiosis between science and government.
This timely new edition presents this iconic text alongside a new companion essay from scientist and former congressman Rush Holt, who offers a brief introduction and consideration of what society needs most from science now. Reflecting on the report’s legacy and relevance along with its limitations, Holt contends that the public’s ability to cope with today’s issues—such as public health, the changing climate and environment, and challenging technologies in modern society—requires a more capacious understanding of what science can contribute. Holt considers how scientists should think of their obligation to society and what the public should demand from science, and he calls for a renewed understanding of science’s value for democracy and society at large.
A touchstone for concerned citizens, scientists, and policymakers, Science, the Endless Frontier endures as a passionate articulation of the power and potential of science.
"Here, the draw is not so much the text of Bush’s report itself, but rather an excellent critical introduction by Rush Holt. . . . Holt’s introduction takes seriously the idea that the United States is a democracy, and that scientists have a specific role to play in that democracy, which is not the same thing as saying that scientists should control science policy."—Audra Wolfe, Never Just Science
"I just read the new Princeton University Press edition of Vannevar Bush’s Science, The Endless Frontier, with an interesting introductory essay by Rush Holt. I don’t think I’d ever read the whole of the famous Bush document before, and it was interesting to see how he made the pitch . . . . Both the Bush and the Holt essays are well worth a read."—Diane Coyle, Enlightened Economist
"This excellent reissue of Vannevar Bush’s visionary work comes at a pivotal moment for our nation. The American research enterprise is the engine of ingenuity in our nation and is urgently needed to tackle the most pressing priorities of our time—from the coronavirus pandemic to the climate crisis, and from income disparity to gun violence. Now elevated and updated by the brilliant writing of former congressman Rush Holt, an unmatched champion for the advancement of science, this book is a forceful declaration of the value of science for our democracy and a ringing call to action for policymakers and the American people alike."—Speaker Nancy Pelosi
"Vannevar Bush’s prescient report launched the modern scientific enterprise, spurred by generous government investment. Today, advances in public health, shared prosperity, and scientific understanding are more important than ever. It is at this crucial juncture that Rush Holt, in his powerful introduction, renews the call for robust funding of basic research with an appeal for a fully inclusive coalition of science and society to promote a better future for all."—Robbert Dijkgraaf, director of the Institute for Advanced Study
"Rush Holt gives new life to Vannevar Bush’s seminal report Science, the Endless Frontier by emphasizing its continued relevance to American science policy and raising issues that need reexamination—in particular, the relationship between the scientific enterprise and civil society. This is an important read for everyone who is deeply concerned about the status of science in today’s discourse."—Ernest J. Moniz, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former US Secretary of Energy
"In his companion essay to this new edition of Science, the Endless Frontier—the blueprint for American science since World War II—Rush Holt argues that a more expansive philosophical vision of the value of science is needed, one that embraces the public as a more equal partner. Hoorah for Holt, for having the courage to take on this important, timely issue."—Naomi Oreskes, author of Why Trust Science?
“Vannevar Bush’s Science, the Endless Frontier remains the touchstone for understanding how Americans regard basic research, why they pay for it, and what benefits they expect. These issues are more urgent than ever. How can the United States channel science and technology for public good and social justice, not only economic growth? Rush Holt offers incisive reflections on Bush’s blind spots and bold plan, making this the definitive edition for our era.”—Angela N. H. Creager, Princeton University
"Vannevar Bush’s Science, the Endless Frontier had an immense influence on the development of US science and technology as forces for public good. In his superb introductory essay for the reissue of this pioneering document, Rush Holt provides a deeply insightful discussion, not only of what Bush’s blueprint achieved, but also what it missed and how this shortfall can be remedied."—John Holdren, Harvard University and former chief science advisor to President Obama
"With the reissue of Science, the Endless Frontier, I am once more struck by the majesty of Vannevar Bush’s vision for the role of science. His document serves as a prescient reminder as the United States faces the challenges of a new century. Adding a needed retrospective, Rush Holt’s companion essay calls for a more robust conversation among STEM researchers, social scientists, and the public, and strongly resonates with my experiences in public policy."—Sylvester James Gates Jr., Brown University
"Since World War II, Science, the Endless Frontier has been the central model for science policy in the United States. This welcome new edition combines Vannevar Bush's classic text with an urgent essay by Rush Holt on what the model can and cannot do for us in the twenty-first century. This is essential reading for anyone who cares about the future of science in America."—Audra J. Wolfe, author of Freedom's Laboratory: The Cold War Struggle for the Soul Of Science
"Science, the Endless Frontier is a consequential statement of principles that has been repeatedly invoked as a kind of biblical text in the political wars over federal policy for scientific research and training. Holt’s first-rate introduction to this new edition captures the key elements of the report, outlines its significance and fate, and considers its implications for our time."—Daniel J. Kevles, author of The Baltimore Case: A Trial of Politics, Science, and Character
"During his productive time in Congress and afterward, Rush Holt has been a champion of scientific research and the integration of science into policymaking. He understands what the place of science in our democratic society has been—and what it should be. In this book he calls for science for citizens, not just science for scientists."—US Congresswoman Anna Eshoo
"Vannevar Bush’s influential text, Science, the Endless Frontier, laid out a roadmap for a whole new relationship between science, technology, and the federal government. In a compelling essay, Rush Holt helps us understand the broader context in which Bush prepared his now-famous report, and offers important insights into new considerations that should inform our discussions about science policy today."—David Kaiser, author of Quantum Legacies: Dispatches from an Uncertain World
"Rush Holt introduces Science, the Endless Frontier to a whole new audience, and shows us why we all should be reading Vannevar Bush’s landmark report. Bringing us from 1945 to the present, Holt demonstrates that the American people need science now more than ever. Together, Bush and Holt give us a roadmap for US science today."—Kei Koizumi, American Association for the Advancement of Science
"With Science, the Endless Frontier, Vannevar Bush envisioned the cloistered infrastructure for US science research that has prevailed for nearly eighty years. Physicist and public servant Rush Holt reintroduces this influential blueprint, reflecting on the constructive developments it inspired, as well as the troubling consequences that stem from a research culture unaccountable to the polity. Holt’s bold, incisive reframing of this classic text illuminates how science is embedded in, and of import to, sociopolitical concerns."—Alondra Nelson, president of the Social Science Research Council
"Rush Holt’s essay on Science, the Endless Frontier celebrates science discovery and the democratization of science. He layers historical context with a deeper examination of publicly funded science, and he challenges the scientific community to be more inclusive. An important perspective from a physicist, policymaker, and advocate for science, Holt provides new insights to Vannevar Bush’s text."—Kaye G. Husbands Fealing, Georgia Institute of Technology
"This is the welcome revival of arguably the most important document in the history of US science policy. Vannevar Bush distills in graceful prose his deep experience of directing research during World War II and Rush Holt’s new introduction points to how science is essential for all citizens and a vibrant democracy. Now, let’s get on with the work of getting science to do its part in our society."—Robert Cook-Deegan, Arizona State University
"With this visionary report, Science: The Endless Frontier, Vannevar Bush transformed US research policy and set our nation on a path of economic expansion and world scientific leadership. But in the seventy-five years that have passed since Bush served as president of the Carnegie Institution for Science and published this transformational proposal, too many of our leaders have failed to grasp the central role that science plays in assuring our national strength and well-being. Today, we see the devastating results of our failure to advocate effectively for public and political understanding and support of America’s scientific enterprise. With his insightful introduction to this landmark work, Rush Holt sets forth a persuasive case that a new science policy is vital, not only to our research infrastructure, but also to our very democracy. This book could not be more timely, and I hope every scientist, and anyone who cares about America will heed Holt’s call for a powerful new integration of science in our public life."—Eric D. Isaacs, president of the Carnegie Institution for Science