Opinion: 'Teach Young People To Be Innovative'

Roberta B. Ness | CNN | September 24, 2012

The world has an insatiable appetite for innovation. To feed this desire for technologic and scientific breakthroughs, nations invest in our celebrated universities. Tax and tuition dollars go to educate students -- the next generation of open-minded thinkers -- but also toward fostering research. After all, academia is the quintessential innovation incubator. Isn't it?

Early in 2012, the eminent magazine "Science" invited young scientists worldwide to answer the question: "How will the practice of science change in your lifetime?" One particularly pained (and not unrepresentative) reply was:

"The biggest challenge facing a generation of young scientists is breaking free of the shackles placed on them by their predecessors ... We are expected to fix broken peer-review systems riddled with small insular cliques ... We are expected not only to flourish but to be thankful for a funding structure equipped with scarce resources that are primarily used on contract science for the blessed few rather than discovery based on the merits of ideas ... We are expected to rise to this challenge and we're sure as hell going to give it our all," said Jeremy Block from Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.