Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

Exploring the Foundations: Basics of Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy

Date and Time
Tuesday, March 9, 2021 - 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Exploring the Foundations: Basics of Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy


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Our future will be in significant part determined by public policy decisions by companies and government about science and technology, yet few know how this system works—it is truly a "black box" for most. Meanwhile, we increasingly understand that science- and technology-based innovation is deeply connected to society’s economic growth and its corresponding ability to generate societal wellbeing and to solve big societal challenges like climate change or the need for quality jobs. So the public importance of science is growing. In this talk, Bill Bonvillian will examine some of the basics of the public policy behind, and the government’s role in, the science- and technology-based innovation system.

This event is co-sponsored by Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Duke Initiative for Science & Society.

The webinar is part of the Duke Environmental Impacts Fellow Program, a professional development opportunity for Duke PhD students keen on making a high impact in their careers. This pilot program is funded by Duke University's Office of the Provost, Nicholas School of the Environment, Sanford School of Public Policy, Pratt School of Engineering, Trinity College of Arts & Science, Divinity School, and Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.


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Bill Bonvillian is a lecturer at MIT's Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab. Bonvillian began teaching science and technology policy at MIT in 2007, and has also taught a course on innovation policy since 2017. Prior to this position, from 2006-17, he was Director of MIT’s Washington, D.C. Office, reporting to MIT’s President. In this position he worked to support MIT’s strong and historic relations with federal R&D agencies, and its role on national science policy. He has assisted with major MIT technology policy initiatives, on energy technology, the “convergence” of life, engineering and physical sciences, advanced manufacturing, online higher education and its "innovation orchard" project on startup scale-up. Prior to that position, he served for seventeen years as a senior policy advisor in the U.S. Senate. His legislative efforts included science and technology policy and innovation issues. He worked extensively on legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security, on Intelligence Reform, on climate change, on defense and life science R&D, and on national competitiveness and innovation legislation leading to the America Competes Act in 2007.