This afternoon, the United States Senate delivered a devastating blow to the integrity of the scientific process at the National Science Foundation (NSF) by voting for the Coburn Amendment to the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013.
Senator Coburn (R-OK) submitted an amendment (SA 65, as modified) to the Mikulski-Shelby Amendment (SA 26) to H.R. 933 (Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013). The amendment places unprecedented restriction on the national research agenda by declaring the political science study of democracy and public policy out of bounds. The amendment allows only political science research that promotes "national security or the economic interests of the United States."
Adoption of this amendment is a gross intrusion into the widely-respected, independent scholarly agenda setting process at NSF that has supported our world-class national science enterprise for over sixty years.
The amendment creates an exceptionally dangerous slippery slope. While political science research is most immediately affected, at risk is any and all research in any and all disciplines funded by the NSF. The amendment makes all scientific research vulnerable to the whims of political pressure.
Adoption of this amendment demonstrates a serious misunderstanding of the breadth and importance of political science research for the national interest and its integral place on the nation's interdisciplinary scientific research agenda.
Singling out any one field of science is short-sighted and misguided, and poses a serious threat to the independence and integrity of the National Science Foundation.
And shackling political science within the national science agenda is a remarkable embarrassment for the world's exemplary democracy.
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About the American Political Science Association Founded in 1903, the American Political Science Associationis the leading professional organization for the study of political science and serves more than 15,000 members in over 80 countries. With a range of programs and services for individuals, departments and institutions, APSA brings together political scientists from all fields of inquiry, regions, and occupational endeavors within and outside academe in order to expand awareness and understanding of politics.