Increased Funding for History of Science from NSF
Recent budgetary decisions at the National Science Foundation will increase
the Fiscal Year 1999 base budget of the Science & Technology Studies Program
— which supports research and training in history, philosophy, and social
studies of science and technology — by nearly 7.5% over its FY98 base.
(The modal increase experienced by other programs within the NSF Division
of Social and Economic Sciences, in which the STS Program now finds itself,
was under 2.0%.) Once all internal NSF budgetary adjustments have been
made, the STS Program will make grants totaling more than $3.4 million
in this fiscal year.
The decision to raise the STS budget so significantly derived from several
considerations. First, in recent years the Program experienced a major
increase in the number of proposals submitted by STS researchers. Excluding
dissertation and workshop proposals, supplement requests, and similar
matters, these numbers rose from 80 in FY96 and 68 in FY97 to 107 in FY98.
This increase led to a significant decline in the Program’s “success rate,”
which went from 44% in FY96 and 53% in FY97 to 35% in FY98. Second, all
involved in the review of these proposals agreed that the increased number
came at the “upper end of the quality distribution,” so that the number
of otherwise fundable proposals that the Program could not support rose
especially sharply. This major budget increase is designed to begin, at
least, to address this problem.
The Program’s fiscal year includes two “review cycles,” with annual “target
dates” of 1 February and 1 August. It thus hopes to receive an even greater
number of proposals later this summer. The formal STS
Program Announcement (now under the "Science and Society"
heading) is most readily available on the World Wide Web. This Web site
provides direct links to NSF’s “Grant Proposal Guide” and other resources
for potential applicants. Since 1973, the STS Program and its predecessors
have been overseen successively by Ronald J. Overmann (1973-1995) and
Edward J. Hackett (1995-1998). The current STS Program Officer (who will
serve through August 2000), Michael M. Sokal, may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
and (703) 306-1742.