CSPO Events

October 07, 2013 3:00pm—4:15pm

Is STEM Crisis a Myth?

It’s an issue that has been repeated in countless reports and news stories: the United States is facing a looming shortage of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians—a STEM crisis, that is. The President has repeatedly stated that over the next decade, 1 million new STEM graduates will be needed. And to make up the difference until then, tech companies like Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft are lobbying to boost the number of H-1B visas—temporary immigration permits for skilled workers—from 65,000 per year to as many as 180,000. Without these STEM workers, the country’s ability to innovate and to ensure its national security will be at grave risk.

And yet numerous studies over the years have shown that in fact there is no such shortage. And, many critics argue, by perpetuating the myth and continuing to pour billions of dollars into STEM programs, we are setting up our students, our companies, and our country for failure and producing too many workers with no strong job prospects. The real STEM crisis is one of literacy—that fact that today’s students are not receiving a solid grounding in science, math, and engineering.

It’s time for a reasoned, informed dialogue about STEM literacy in the United States, without the political hysterics and contrived logic. Join CSPO co-director Dan Sarewitz and Robert N. Charette, author of the recent IEEE Spectrum article, “The STEM Crisis Is a Myth,” for an in-depth look at this issue and the potential pitfalls and solutions surrounding it.

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Further Readings  from ISSUES in Science and Technology: