AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXXI, No. 2, Fall 1999


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 and (703) 306-1742.

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