Shirley Ann Jackson Urges Nexus of Science and Leadership at Gustav Pollak Lecture

February 22, 2007

Scientific and academic leader Shirley Ann Jackson warned that science and leadership must mesh in new and innovative ways to ensure investment in innovation and generate sound public policy.
Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, spoke at this year’s Gustav Pollak Lecture at the Forum on Thursday.
“Science meets society, sometimes most explosively, where it impacts public policy, because public policy is where we chart our future,” Jackson said. “And this is where…we must find, and insist upon, sound leadership.”
Offering as examples such issues as global climate change, and nuclear energy policy, Jackson described how science competes with many other voices in a very crowded market of ideas and interests. The result is that citizens and policymakers are sometimes unsure who to believe.
She called for leadership in examining and addressing the “distrust and confusion” which surround issues of science and public policy, a commitment to ensuring future generations of well-educated scientists, and a cultural shift toward valuing science and scientists.
“In the end we must inaugurate a new nexus of science and leadership,” she said. “In the end this is about the kind of human society we want to build and be part of.”
Photos: Martha Stewart

Shirley Jackson image

Shirley Ann Jackson, former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1995-99) and president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, delivered the 2007 Gustav Pollak Lecture “Science and Leadership: The Imperative.”

Shirley Jackson, Dean Elwood and student image

(L-R) Shirley Jackson talking with Dean David Ellwood and Kennedy School student Matthias Boyer-Chammard.


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