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How STEM Shapes the World

In his new book, Navigating the Maze: How Science and Technology Policies Shape America and the World, Professor Michael Lubell (City College, The Graduate Center) compares the landscape of science and technology policy to the sprawling road system of Los Angeles. Science, technology, engineering, and math are like highways. A superhighway represents education, while the smaller roads encompass health care, energy, agriculture, and more. Each road is connected, and the drivers are science policy players, including politicians, scientists, and bureaucrats.

This analogy — the idea that science and technology policy is intertwined with almost every aspect of society — might seem a big claim. But, Lubell’s book explains, that’s the whole idea. Science, the technology it spawns, and the policies that follow affect every part of our lives. The better we understand these policies, the better we’ll understand almost every issue our society faces.

The book, told in an engaging narrative with some of Lubell’s own experiences woven in, covers the history of science and technology in the U.S. starting from the country’s earliest days. The book discusses the ways research and policy touch our daily lives — from household appliances to climate change — and the ways it shapes the bigger picture of our world. Lubell examines how technological advances affected banking practices and the 2007-08 financial crisis, the automation and outsourcing of the U.S.’s industrial and service sectors, and the rise of the Tea Party and populist sentiment in the U.S.

Navigating the Maze takes readers on a fascinating journey showing how America ultimately achieved its global preeminence in scientific discovery and innovation,” Lubell said. “It uses stories, many of them with unusual twists and turns, to reduce the complexities of science and technology policy into easily digestible bites.”

Besides being a resource to people in the policy world, these stories can guide those interested in advocacy and helping shape these policies. In the end, though, the book is for everyone.

“It provides a wonderful window for the general public to see how science and technology have come to shape their lives in the 21st century,” Lubell said.

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Michael Lubell (Mark W. Zemansky Professor of Physics , Physics) | Profile 1 | Profile 2