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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University July 25, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 40
Innovation Is Topic of First Johns Hopkins Government Forum

By Dennis O'Shea

America puts itself into economic and strategic danger if it does not address key challenges to its global competitiveness, experts from Johns Hopkins and elsewhere told a Capitol Hill audience last week.

The panel, convened for a session called "Rekindling the Passion for Innovation," addressed about 200 university alumni and friends, congressional staffers, policy advocates and others during the first Johns Hopkins Government Forum.

Gathered in a Senate office building, the group discussed shortcomings in K-12 education, lack of student interest in advanced science and technology education, regulatory and legal obstacles to innovation, restrictions on foreign students and other problems facing America today.

"The government has fallen short in this country in providing a framework in which the for-profit and nonprofit sectors can function," panelist Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., said.

Sarbanes called for long-term, consistent and dependable government investments in education and in research and development. "I find it very frustrating that we can't get the system structured properly," he said.

University President William R. Brody moderated the discussion, describing what he called an "increasing unwillingness on the part of American society to accept or tolerate risk, especially the kind of daring entrepreneurial risk that is capable of creating entirely new industries."

Others on the panel were Nicholas Jones, dean of the Whiting School of Engineering; Chi Dang, vice dean for research in the School of Medicine; Aris Melissaratos, secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development; and Deborah Wince-Smith, president of the Council on Competitiveness.

Panelists also described opportunities for increased competitiveness that are opened up by new research directions in the life sciences and information technology.

The Johns Hopkins Government Forum was sponsored by the offices of Government, Community and Public Affairs and Alumni Relations. The next event in the new public policy series, "The Science, Ethics and Politics of Stem Cell Research," will be held in Washington on Nov. 15. Additional sponsors are the Phoebe R. Berman Bioethics Institute and Johns Hopkins Medicine.


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