David A. Hamburg

David A. Hamburg, a physician, educator, and scientist with a public health background, took the helm in late 1982 with the intention of mobilizing the best scientific and scholarly talent and thinking around "the prevention of rotten outcomes" - all the way from early childhood to international relations.

The Corporation moved away from higher education, placing priority on the education and healthy development of children and adolescents and the preparation of youth for a scientific and technological, knowledge-driven world. In 1984, the Corporation established the Carnegie Commission on Education and the Economy. Through its major publication, A Nation Prepared (1986), the foundation reaffirmed the role of the teacher as the "best hope" for ensuring educational excellence in elementary and secondary education. An outgrowth of that report was establishment, a year later, of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to consider ways of attracting able candidates to the teaching profession and recognizing and retaining them. At the Corporation's initiative, the American Association for the Advancement of Science issued two groundbreaking reports, Science for All Americans (1989) and Benchmarks for Science Literacy (1993), which recommended a common core of learning in science, mathematics, and technology for all citizens and helped set national standards of achievement in these domains.

An entirely new focus for the Corporation was the danger to world peace posed by the superpower confrontation and weapons of mass destruction. The foundation underwrote scientific study of the feasibility of the proposed federal Strategic Defense Initiative and joined the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in supporting the analytic work of a new generation of arms control and nuclear nonproliferation experts. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Corporation grants helped promote the concept of cooperative security among erstwhile adversaries and projects to build democratic institutions in the former Soviet Union and central Europe. An important undertaking was the Prevention of Proliferation Task Force, coordinated under a grant to the Brookings Institution, which inspired the Nunn-Lugar Amendment to the Soviet Threat Reduction Act of 1991 aimed at dismantling Soviet nuclear weapons and reducing proliferation risks.

The Corporation also addressed the problems of interethnic and regional conflict and supported projects seeking to diminish the risks of a wider war stemming from civil strife. Two Carnegie commissions, one on Reducing the Nuclear Danger (1990), the other on Preventing Deadly Conflict (1994), together addressed the full range of dangers associated with human conflict and the use of weapons of mass destruction. The Corporation's thrust in Commonwealth Africa, meanwhile, shifted to women's health and leadership development and the application of science and technology, including new information systems, in fostering research and expertise within indigenous scientific institutions and universities.

Under Hamburg, dissemination achieved even greater primacy in the arsenal of strategic philanthropy. Emphasis was on consolidation and diffusion of the best available knowledge from social science and education research and the use of such research in improving social policy and practice. Major partners in these endeavors were leading institutions that had the capability to influence public thought and action. If "change agent" was a key term in Pifer's time, "linkage" became the byword in Hamburg's, when the Corporation increasingly used its convening powers to bring together leaders and experts across disciplinary and sectoral boundaries to forge policy consensus and promote collaboration.

Continuing tradition, the foundation established in its name several other major study groups, often led by the president and managed by a special staff. Three groups covered the educational and developmental needs of children and youth from birth to age fifteen: the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development (1986), the Carnegie Task Force on Meeting the Needs of Young Children (1991), and the Carnegie Task Force on Learning in the Primary Grades (1994). Another, the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government (1988), recommended ways that government at all levels could make more effective use of science and technology in their operations and policies. Jointly with the Rockefeller Foundation, the Corporation also financed the National Commission on Teaching & America's Future, whose report, What Matters Most (1996), provided a framework and agenda for teacher education reform across the country. Characteristically these study groups drew on the knowledge generated by the grant programs and from relevant fields and inspired follow-up grantmaking to implement the recommendations

Text courtesy of Carnegie Collections at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University