Obama: “Rightful Place” for Science

D.C. Science / by Robert Koenig /

In his inaugural speech, President Barack Obama highlights his vision for science.

US President Barack Obama today pledged in his inaugural address to “restore science to its rightful place” and committed his administration to developing and deploying alternative energy technologies.

In a line of his speech that drew cheers from the crowd of more than 1 million people at the National Mall, Obama referred to criticism that President George W. Bush’s administration had politicized some scientific studies and diminished the role of science in policy debates. 

“We will restore science to its rightful place and wield technology’s wonders to raise healthcare’s quality and lower its costs,” Obama said.

The new president, who campaigned to strengthen the US response to factors contributing to climate change, also called for changes in America’s energy policy, saying that “each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”

Obama said that under his administration the US “will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.”

The Illinois Democrat’s prominent mention of science in his inaugural address offered new evidence that he and his team of advisers plan to make scientific research and advice a more important part of the White House decision-making process.

Last month, Obama chose physicist John P. Holdren — an outspoken expert on energy, climate change, and arms-control policies from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government — to be his science adviser. He also named Harold Varmus, president of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and genomics researcher Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA, to co-chair the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

Obama’s comments about science and energy policy in his inaugural speech were part of his overall call for Americans to choose “hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord” in order to restore the nation’s economy and its respect in the world.
“Everywhere we look, there is work to be done,” said Obama.

“The state of our economy calls for action: bold and swift. And we will act not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.”

The Obama-backed economic stimulus package that Congress is now considering would include research funding. And among the major science-related issues that Obama’s administration is expected to tackle soon are reducing government restrictions on stem-cell research and promoting the development and deployment of “green” energy technologies.

Originally published January 20, 2009

Tags funding governance innovation leadership policy politics

Share this Stumbleupon Reddit Email + More


  • Ideas

    I Tried Almost Everything Else

    John Rinn, snowboarder, skateboarder, and “genomic origamist,” on why we should dumpster-dive in our genomes and the inspiration of a middle-distance runner.

  • Ideas

    Going, Going, Gone

    The second most common element in the universe is increasingly rare on Earth—except, for now, in America.

  • Ideas

    Earth-like Planets Aren’t Rare

    Renowned planetary scientist James Kasting on the odds of finding another Earth-like planet and the power of science fiction.

The Seed Salon

Video: conversations with leading scientists and thinkers on fundamental issues and ideas at the edge of science and culture.

Are We Beyond the Two Cultures?

Video: Seed revisits the questions C.P. Snow raised about science and the humanities 50 years by asking six great thinkers, Where are we now?

Saved by Science

Audio slideshow: Justine Cooper's large-format photographs of the collections behind the walls of the American Museum of Natural History.

The Universe in 2009

In 2009, we are celebrating curiosity and creativity with a dynamic look at the very best ideas that give us reason for optimism.

Revolutionary Minds
The Interpreters

In this installment of Revolutionary Minds, five people who use the new tools of science to educate, illuminate, and engage.

The Seed Design Series

Leading scientists, designers, and architects on ideas like the personal genome, brain visualization, generative architecture, and collective design.

The Seed State of Science

Seed examines the radical changes within science itself by assessing the evolving role of scientists and the shifting dimensions of scientific practice.

A Place for Science

On the trail of the haunts, homes, and posts of knowledge, from the laboratory to the field.


Witness the science. Stunning photographic portfolios from the pages of Seed magazine.

SEEDMAGAZINE.COM by Seed Media Group. ©2005-2015 Seed Media Group LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Sites by Seed Media Group: Seed Media Group | ScienceBlogs | Research Blogging | SEEDMAGAZINE.COM