The Scientific Enterprise

Portrait of Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

The Scientific Enterprise

Science functions globally as a single club, a single cognitive formation, with a mix of experimental evidence, mathematics, and computation as its lingua franca. The excellent networks characteristic of science amplify the responsibilities and opportunities of scientists.  In recent decades, the organization of science has shifted to increase the number and scale of geographically dispersed, disciplinary networks as organizations and fiscal units.  The distribution of institutions that house and enable science will surely shift again. 

The PHE examines the scientific enterprise from a variety of perspectives, including the role of science in government and diplomacy, the institutional organization of scientific research, and the life of working scientists. 

PHE is keenly interested in scientific cooperation between nations in conflict and more generally interactions of science and diplomacy. In 2013, with Dr. Mande Holford (CUNY) and the late Rodney Nichols, Jesse Ausubel initiated an annual seminar series for graduate students and post-doctoral research associates on “science diplomacy,” which seeded The Rockefeller University’s Hurford Foundation initiative on science diplomacy. For recent curricula visit 2021202020192018201720162015.

PHE also helps organize the University’s Insight Lecture Series.  This evening lecture series (which began about 1990 as the Zanvil Cohn Forum on Biomedical Affairs) brings thought leaders in science, business, health, politics, arts, and humanities to Rockefeller to address the wider interests of our students, fellows, staff, faculty, and trustees.

Similarly, PHE helps organize the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science, named for its first recipient, Lewis Thomas. Rockefeller awards the prize annually to scientists or physicians deemed to have accomplished a significant literary achievement; it recognizes “scientists as poets.”

We work with French filmmaker Jacques Perrin on his nature documentaries. 

We also see our participation in the quest to obtain and sequence the genome of Leonardo da Vinci as part of our studies of the scientific enterprise. Leonardo was himself an immense scientific enterprise. The interest in Leonardo has broadened into an interest in how molecular biology, genetics, and microbiology can lead to new discoveries in the history of art, especially visual art.

From 1989 to 1993 Jesse Ausubel served as director of studies for the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government. Seventeen major reports of the Commission are posted here. For a brief summary of the Commission’s work, read Joshua Lederberg’s PREAMBLE AND HIGHLIGHTS OF THE COMMISSION’S RECOMMENDATIONS, pages 6-11 of the concluding report. 

Our longstanding interest in Serious Games forms another pillar of our interest in the Scientific Enterprise.  In 1980-1981, we built a board game and two computer games about carbon dioxide emissions and global warming.  Our 1988 book Cities and their Vital Systems: Infrastructure Past, Present, and Future, found its way into the first 1989 release of SimCity.  With William Massey we created the university simulator, Virtual U, which provided the kernel around which nucleated the Serious Games initiative.

Another pillar involves recurring questions of the Limits to Knowledge and distinguishing between the known, unknown, and unknowable, whether for deep carbon or marine biodiversity.

A neighboring interest is in philosophy of science, in particular, the Vienna Circle of philosophers.

Finally, portraits and remembrances of our colleagues fit in this area.


About the icon – Portrait of Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

Publications about The Scientific Enterprise

Jesse H. Ausubel. The Search for Leonardo’s Genome (PDF). Human Evolution 37 (3-4): 221-228, 2022 Leonardo Da Vinci; genome; DNA

D Burg, JH Ausubel. Moore’s Law revisited through Intel chip density [external link]. PLOS ONE 16 (8): e0256245, 2021

IK Wernick. The Big Data Mindset [external link]. Issues in Science and Technology 2020

JH Ausubel. Using New Anthropological and Biological Tools to Learn about Leonardo Da Vinci. Human Evolution 31 (3): 125–131, 2016

JH Ausubel. La liberazione dell’ambiente (autobiography-Italian version) [external link]. Pp. 112 in Di Renzo Editore 2014

IK Wernick. Living in a Material World. Issues in Science and Technology Winter (2014): 29–31, 2014

PE Waggoner. Appanoose To Connecticut (PDF). Pp. 1–64 in Self Published Memoir 2011

AL Singer Jr. Easy to forget, and so hard to remember (PDF). 2010 Self-published memoirs of Arthur L. Singer, Jr. memoirs

JH Ausubel, C Marchetti. Science, Conquering Child of the Church (PDF). 2003 Draft prepared for Next 1000 Years meeting, 9-10 October 2003

C Marchetti, JH Ausubel. The Next 1000 Years (PDF). 2003 Discussion paper for April 2003 Rockefeller U workshop

JH Ausubel, S Tobias. Mastering science: Graduate schools invigorate the MS in science and math (PDF). Change, The Magazine of Higher Learning, 2002 Higher Education

JH Ausubel. Scientists, War, Diplomacy, Europe George C. Marshall Institute News 3 (4): 2001

JH Ausubel. Five Worthy Ways to Spend Large Amounts of Money for Research on Environment and Resources The Bridge 29 (3): 4–16, 1999 Research, funding, zepp, wood products, natural gas

JH Ausubel. International Conflicts over Environment: Scientist’s Roles and Opportunities Pp. 253–258 in Scientific Cooperation, State Conflict: The Role of Scientists in Mitigating International Discord, "Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences", A. L. de Cerreno and A. Keynan, (eds.). vol. 866, 1998 scientists, conflict, international

JH Ausubel. The Liberation of the Environment (PDF). Pp. 1-13 in Technological Trajectories and the Human Environment, JH Ausubel and HD Langford, (eds.). Washington DC: National Academy Press, 1997 An earlier version was published by The Collegium Budapest, Budapest, Hungary, A krnyezet felszabadtasa (The Liberation of the Environment, in Hungarian) Magyar Tudomany CII(2):164-171, 1995. Also appeared in Portuguese, A Liberacao do Meio Ambiente, Tecbahia 12(2):29-41, 1997 energy, agriculture, water, materials, population, technology innovation, diffusion, land use, carbon, dematerialization, natural resources

JH Ausubel, R Herman, WF Massy, SV Massy. Simulating the Academy: Toward Understanding Colleges and Universities as Dynamic Systems Pp. 107–120 in What Higher Education is Doing Right, W.F. Massy and J.W. Meyerson, eds., Princeton University 1997 120 Higher Education, Dynamic Systems

JH Ausubel. Malthus And Graduate Students: Checks On Burgeoning Ranks Of Ph.D.’s The Scientist 10 (3): 11, 1996 Higher Education

JH Ausubel. Science international: a US view of its institutional needs (PDF). Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 20 (2): 104–109, 1995 Republished in The Scientist 8(3):11-14, 1994. Republished in Technology in Society 19(1):25-31, 1997. Scientific cooperation

JH Ausubel. Rails and snails and the debate over goals for science (PDF). Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem, Israel 1994 Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Jerusalem Scientific cooperation

JH Ausubel and WD Carey. Facing toward governments: Non governmental organizations and scientific and technical advice (PDF) [external link]. Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government 1993 Scientific cooperation, science advice

JH Ausubel, JH Steele. Flat organizations for earth science (PDF). Bull Am Meteorol Soc 74 (5): 809–814, 1993 Scientific cooperation

JH Ausubel. The Organizational Ecology of Science Advice in America (PDF). European Review 1 (3): 249–261, 1993 Scientific cooperation

J Lederberg, JH Ausubel. Science And The Presidency: 1993 [external link]. Pp. 12 in The Scientist 1993 Commentary in October 26, 1992 issue

JH Ausubel. Intellectual Migrations and Global Universities. Pp. pp. 147–160 in In Strategies for Support of Scientific Research: Problems of the Transition Period, W.A. Blanpied & S. Sperlagh (eds), Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1992

JH Ausubel. International environmental research and assessment: Proposals for better organization and decision making [external link]. Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government 1992 Scientific cooperation, science advice

JH Ausubel, DG Victor. Verification of International Environmental Agreements Pp. 1–43 in Annual Review of Energy and the Environment vol. 17, 1992 environmental law, monitoring, compliance, regime

JH Ausubel. Current trends and environmental research needs. (PDF). Pp. 221-231 in Interdisciplinary Science Reviews vol. 13, 1988 doi: 10.1179/isr.1988.13.3.211

JH Ausubel. Some Thoughts on Geophysical Prediction (PDF). Pp. R. Krasnow (ed.), Resources for the Future, Washington, DC, pp. 97-109 in Policy Aspects of Climate Forecasting, 1986

Climate Impact Assessment – Studies of the Interaction of Climate and Society SCOPE 27 (PDF). Pp. 625 pp. in Climate Impact Assessment, SCOPE 27, RW Kates, JH Ausubel, M Berberian (eds.), (eds.). 1985