December 2010 Issue • Volume 38 • Issue 9

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Science Policy

American Human Development Project issues updated GDP alternative


The American Human Development Project (see the February 2010 Footnotes), a nonpartisan initiative that seeks to move beyond the GDP as a measure of well-being, recently released The Measure of America 2010-2011: Mapping Risks and Resilience. Published in November, the report is the latest update to the groundbreaking American Human Development (HD) Index, first introduced in The Measure of America 2008-2009. An alternative measure of well-being and opportunity, calculated from official government data, the American HD Index measures the three basic building blocks of a good life—health, education, and income. Index scores enable a ranking of the 50 U.S. states, 435 congressional districts, major racial and ethnic groups, men and women, and also allow for the tracking of progress over time. The report presents strong evidence that the capabilities a person has going into a crisis—ranging from a financial downturn to a man-made or natural disaster—strongly determine how fast he or she can recover. It concludes with recommendations for boosting the American HD Index scores and enabling those left behind to realize their full potential. For more information on The Measure of America 2010-2011: Mapping Risks and Resilience, visit

President Obama announced an initiative to expand STEM education

As part of his "Educate to Innovate" campaign to boost American student achievement in science and math over the next decade—so that the United States can compete in the global marketplace—President Obama announced the launch of Change the Equation in September. A new non-profit organization, Change the Equation, is a CEO-led response by the business community to Obama’s "call to action," at the National Academy of Sciences in spring 2009, for all Americans to join the cause of elevating science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education as a national priority essential to meeting the economic challenges of this century. Within a year, the expectation is that Change the Equation will replicate successful privately-funded programs in 100 high-need schools and communities. These efforts include allowing more students to engage in robotics competitions, improving professional development for math and science teachers, increasing the number of students that take and pass rigorous Advanced Placement math and science courses, augmenting the number of teachers who enter the profession with a STEM undergraduate degree, and providing new opportunities to traditionally underrepresented students and underserved communities. Change the Equation will also create a state-by-state "scorecard" to highlight areas for state-level improvement, and help companies increase the impact of their own engagement in STEM education. President Obama has identified three overarching priorities for STEM education, necessary for laying a new foundation for America’s future prosperity: Increasing STEM literacy so all students can think critically in science, math, engineering, and technology; improving the quality of math and science teaching so American students are no longer outperformed by those in other nations; and expanding STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and minorities. For more information, see logosmall

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