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National Research Council (US) Chemical Sciences Roundtable. Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences: Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2000.

Cover of Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences

Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences: Issues for the 21st Century: Report of a Workshop.

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Closing Remarks

Robert L. Lichter, The Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation: Workshops have an interesting dynamic. No matter what their length, the last half of the last session is always the one at which people look at the clock. It's a natural response, even at this one where we are still on schedule.

First, I want to thank all of you for participating. As we said at the beginning, the success and vitality of the workshop would depend on your participation, a responsibility you fulfilled wonderfully. Indeed, your energy stood in marked contrast to the total silence I observed yesterday morning at the registration, a silence that we knew would not be sustained once the workshop was under way. You presented a variety of perspectives, which were discussed and debated energetically. There were a lot of sidebar conversations, always a sign of active engagement. The expressions of concern, even about the organization of the workshop itself, were forthright. Some of it was discomfiting, which is all to the good: we all learn from that experience. We talked about many issues and did not talk about others, such as the balance of professional and personal priorities, particularly for graduate students and young academic and industrial scientists. I can't help but comment on the notion of “customers” that was raised. I'm convinced that the number of definitions of “customer” maps directly onto the number of people who give the definition.

The question, of course, is What happens next? In the short term—about six months from now—a published proceedings will appear. In addition, we hope that you will examine how those thoughts, perspectives, and activities that were presented here and to which you have resonated may be realized in your own settings.

But the more difficult question is, What happens in the long term? A number of young scientists are here—graduate students, faculty members, and industrial scientists. Twenty years from now, will they be where we are, not merely looking at the same questions, but looking at them for the same reasons? As at least one speaker pointed out, education is a vital, vibrant, always changing enterprise. But what kind of change will take place and in what ways? Will the same kinds of questions be raised over and over again? Who will be the agents for change and under what circumstances?

Many questions remain open, which is what we hoped would be a result of the workshop. All of you did your jobs—presenters, participants, the organizing committee, and the National Research Council staff. I want to thank all of you for coming and wish you a safe voyage home.

Copyright © 2000, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK44886


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