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AAA&S Report Makes Recommendations for Improved U.S. Language Education

On February 28, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAA&S), a COSSA member, released, America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century, the final report of the Commission on Language Learning. A bipartisan group of U.S. Members of Congress requested that AAA&S establish the Commission in order “to examine the current state of U.S. language education, to project what the nation’s education needs will be in the future, and to offer recommendations for ways to meet those needs.”

The Commission found that only 10 percent of the U.S. population speaks a second language proficiently, a number insufficient to meet either the nation’s current or future demand. At the report release event, Ambassador Nancy McEldowney, Director of the Foreign Service Institute and a Commission member, noted that it is far more cost effective for the U.S. government to hire people who already possess language skills, rather than teaching those skills to its employees. Individuals who can speak a second language exhibit improved cognitive skills and are faster at learning additional languages.

The Commission offered five recommendations for increasing language education, with the ultimate goal of exposing 100 percent of U.S. students to a second language. Paul LeClerc, the Commission’s Chairman and Director of the Columbia University Global Center in Paris, said that a lack of language teachers is the main obstacle to this goal. The report’s first recommendation is increasing the number of language teachers in U.S. schools, which would require considering language instruction as an education priority, equivalent to math education. The Commission suggested two research areas that would aid in this increase: an investigation of the state of language programs at a school district level and evaluation of using digital technology in language instruction. The report also suggests developing higher education consortia to encourage advanced language study and a student loan forgiveness program for language teachers.

The report also recommends increased support for heritage language speakers (those who grow up with a second language at home), Native American languages, study abroad opportunities, and partnerships between public and private language education stakeholders. The Commission released a companion report, The State of Languages in the U.S.: A Statistical Portrait, in December 2016, which contains data backing the final report.

This article was contributed by COSSA’s spring intern, Laila Rosenthal of American University.

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Posted in Issue 5 (March 7), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

New AAAS Study Investigates the Social Responsibilities of Scientists

The notion that scientists have a responsibility to society that goes beyond their responsibilities to the profession is long-standing. While there is a growing literature concerning the issues encapsulated by the phrase “social responsibility of scientists,” a review of that literature reveals many and sometimes competing views. What is more, to date there has been no empirical basis on which to define the content and scope of such social responsibilities.

It is within this context that the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition, of which COSSA is a member, and the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program decided to develop and distribute an online questionnaire to scientists, engineers and health professionals globally. The primary aim of this preliminary investigation was to elicit their perspectives on the nature and scope of their responsibilities and to identify any potential similarities and differences in perspectives according to multiple demographic variables. Read a summary of the report’s major findings or the full report. Please direct any inquiries about the report to srhrl@aaas.org.

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Posted in Issue 6 (April 7), Update, Volume 34 (2015)

AAA&S Restoring the Foundation Report Calls for Increased Federal Investment in Research

On September 16, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a COSSA member, released a new report, Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream. The report makes the case that America’s economic successes in the twentieth century have largely been due to our investments in scientific research and that failure to maintain sustainable funding for research “could threaten the very principles—opportunity, social mobility, innovation—that have inspired our nation for the past century.” (more…)

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 22), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

American Academy of Arts & Sciences to Release New Report on Scientific Research and the American Dream

On September 16, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a COSSA member, will publish a new report, Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream, at a public release event and Congressional briefing. Presenters include report committee co-chairs Norman R. Augustine, Retired Chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation and former Under Secretary, United States Army; and Neal F. Lane, Malcolm Gillis University Professor at Rice University, former Director of the National Science Foundation, and former Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The events will also feature Hunter R. Rawlings III, President, Association of American Universities; Peter McPherson, President, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; and the Hon. Bart Gordon, member of the report committee, Partner at K&L Gates, former U.S. Representative for Tennessee, and former Chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology. Click here for more information and instructions on how to register.

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Posted in Issue 16 (September 8), Update, Volume 33 (2014)

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