The Cold War, Technology and the American University, by John Aubrey Douglass


The translation of Sputnik from a scientific into a political event changed the dynamics of federal science and technology policy, and elevated to new heights the American research university as a pivotal tool for winning the Cold War. This paper discusses this significant shift in federal policy, its impact on America's research universities and scientific community, and its influence on the contemporary economy. Sputnik prompted a significant expansion in the training of scientists and engineers, and acted as a catalyst for large-scale federal funding for higher education. It also resulted in the federal government becoming the nation's primary source of R&D investment. The result was a greatly accelerated shift in scientific research increasingly toward a multi-disciplinary model and the creation of new knowledge that form the foundation for today's technological innovations that may well exceed in importance the trials and tribulations of the Cold War itself.

Publication date: 
September 1, 1999
Publication type: 
Research and Occasional Papers Series (ROPS)
Douglass, J. A. (1999). The Cold War, Technology and the American University. UC Berkeley: Center for Studies in Higher Education.