Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The New Invisible College

The New Invisible College: Science for Development

Caroline S. Wagner
Foreword by Francis Fukuyama
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 157
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The New Invisible College
    Book Description:

    The twentieth century was the era of "big science." Driven by strategic rivalries and fierce economic competition, wealthy governments invested heavily in national science establishments. Direct funding for institutions like the National Science Foundation and high-visibility projects, such as the race to the moon, fueled innovation, growth, and national prestige. But the big science model left poorer countries out in the cold. Today the organization of science is undergoing a fundamental transformation. In The New Invisible College,Caroline Wagner combines quantitative data and extensive interviews to map the emergence of global science networks and trace the dynamics driving their growth. She argues that the shift from big science to global networks creates unprecedented opportunities for developing countries to tap science's potential. Rather than squander resources in vain efforts to mimic the scientific establishments of the twentieth century, developing country governments can leverage networks by creating incentives for top-notch scientists to focus on research that addresses their concerns and by finding ways to tie knowledge to local problem solving. The New Invisible Collegeoffers both a guidebook and a playbook for policymakers confronting these tasks.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-0364-8
    Subjects: Political Science, Technology, General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Francis Fukuyama

    The death of the nation-state has been greatly exaggerated by a series of false prophets over the past decade or so, particularly during the heyday of the information technology (IT) boom of the late 1990s when globalization was picking up steam. Capital, labor, and especially information were said to be unprecedentedly mobile, empowered by new technologies like the Internet; efforts by nation-states to control what flowed across their borders were seen as incredibly retrograde and doomed to failure. In place of traditional governance through the vertical stovepipes of democratic political systems, pundits predicted a flat world of horizontally organized self-governing...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. CHAPTER ONE The New Invisible College Emerges
    (pp. 1-12)

    Science—defined broadly as systematic knowledge about the natural world—offers humanity the promise of a better life. Scientific advances throughout history have helped save millions of people from disease, famine, and poverty. The discovery of penicillin, the development of high-yield seeds, and the distribution of electricity are but three examples of the ways in which science contributed to social welfare in the twentieth century. In many countries, such advances have had even more far-reaching effects by spurring economic growth and bolstering the creation of the large and vibrant middle class that many theorists believe is an essential precondition of...

  6. PART I Rethinking Science and Technology as a Knowledge Network

    • CHAPTER TWO The Topology of Science in the Twenty-First Century
      (pp. 15-32)

      Science operates at the global level as a network—an invisible college. In contrast to the operations of science at the national level, where agencies manage and policy directs investment, no global ministry of science connects people at the international level. Yet most scientists collaborate with colleagues in other countries. The more elite the scientist, the more likely it is that he or she will be an active member of the global invisible college. This chapter explores why and how the invisible college began, how it is organized today, and why understanding it is important for governing science in the...

    • CHAPTER THREE Networked Science
      (pp. 33-48)

      The forces driving the emergence of the new invisible college can be discerned and put to work to improve the productivity and distribution of scientific activity. This chapter approaches this task by drawing on recent work in a number of disciplines, including political science, sociology, mathematics, and computer science. Joined together, new methods of studying the dynamics of social systems can reveal the structure of the global network, which in turn can be shown to follow predictable mathematical probabilities and social “laws.” But like the invisible college itself, the basic concepts that lie behind the reorganization of science are not...

  7. PART II The Labyrinth of the World:: Understanding Network Dynamics

    • CHAPTER FOUR Tectonic Shifts: The Rise of Global Networks
      (pp. 51-68)

      The seemingly solid ground beneath our feet sits on shifting tectonic plates. In human terms, the plates seem to move slowly, but across the millennia, their movement has created the continents and oceans as we know them today. The shifting of tectonic plates gives rise to earthquakes, which alter the physical landscape that rests on the plates. These shifts are driven in turn by forces emanating from deep within the earth. According to the theory of plate tectonics, which was proposed independently by Harry Hess and Ronald Dietz in the early 1960s, the surface of the ocean floor expands as...

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Virtual Geography of Knowledge
      (pp. 69-83)

      The previous chapter emphasized the role of free agents, those individual researchers who can move freely within the global network, in the invisible college. The freedom to pursue interests and opportunities around the world has done much to break down the national focus of science that dominated for much of the twentieth century. Geography does, however, retain an important, if changing, role. The invisible college does not exist in any one place—by definition it encircles the globe. Even so, science is practiced more intensively in some places and less so in others.

      Some projects are best carried out in...

    • CHAPTER SIX Scientific Capacity and Infrastructure
      (pp. 84-100)

      C. P. Snow’s famous essay,The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, analyzed the problems created by the lack of communication between scientists and nonscientists in the early years after World War II. In large part, the essay realistically assessed the tensions between science and society. Yet Snow was utterly wrong about the power of science to close the gap between rich and poor.¹ The year 2000 has come and gone and most analysts think the gap has expanded rather than narrowed. In addition, new gaps, such as the digital divide, are emerging.

      Instead of diminishing these inequalities, science may...

  8. PART III Tapping Networks to Extend the Benefits of Science and Technology

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Governing the New Invisible College
      (pp. 103-120)

      Scientific nationalism defined the conduct and governance of science in the twentieth century, constraining the emergent organization that leads to the most efficient organization and creative outlets for scientific communications. The inefficiencies of cold-war science, in particular, hindered its application to human welfare as it became caught up in the power struggles of twentieth-century nations. This situation began to change only at the outset of the 1990s, as sweeping political change at the end of the cold war converged with the information revolution.

      Indeed, in 1990, a new chapter in the history of the invisible college opened with the reintegration...

  9. APPENDIX A: Measuring Science and Technology Capacity at the National Level
    (pp. 121-132)
  10. APPENDIX B: List of Interview Subjects
    (pp. 133-134)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 135-150)
  12. Index
    (pp. 151-157)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 158-158)