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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: October 2019

7 - Strategic versus Curiosity Science


In Chapter 2 we learned about the concept of basic (or pure) research within the context of Vannevar Bush and the development of science and technology in the United States after World War II. In a broader context, the distinction is oftentimes made between basic and applied research (Inset 7.1; Prochaska, 2018). This interest in science also set the agenda for the support of research by the federal government. Of the nearly two dozen federal agencies that support either basic or applied research, only one – the National Science Foundation (NSF) – has a broad mission in all basic science and STEM fields. In contrast, the US Department of Agriculture is focused on research applied to agriculture, whereas NSF’s agenda is to support basic research for its own sake. After NSF was founded in 1950, for the first few years this agency also supported medical research, but this part of its mission was transferred to NIH (the National Institutes of Health).