Monday, February 22, 2010

Research Notes on the National Defense Education Act of 1958

The following are some brief notes I typed up during my research activities for some class earlier in my doctoral program. Since I’m not using these notes in any of my current research/writing activities I thought I would post them to IHEC Blog as they are interesting:

In 1957, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) launched the tiny Sputnik I satellite, thus beating the Untied States in innovation and exploration of the new frontier of outer space. As a result, the United States Congress passed the National Defense Education Act of 1958.1 The National Defense Education Act highlighted the critical importance of education to national defense and was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on September 2, 1958. By passing this legislation, the United States Congress understood that the defense and security of the United States were bound with education.2  The National Defense and Education Act provided federal funding to colleges and universities in order to develop graduate programs focusing on mathematics, the sciences, foreign languages and area studies. In addition, The National Defense Education Act created the Graduate Fellowship Program and the National Defense Student Loan Program, the precursor to the Perkins Loan Program, which was the first federal student aid program for low-income students.

The National Defense Education Act authorized one billion dollars of federal aid for twelve separate programs outlined in its ten Titles. The National Defense Education Act had a substantial impact on graduate education and research during its time, however, as with all federal funding programs; The National Defense Education Act also had its share of critics. Despite the controversies and concerns, The National Defense Education Act of 1958 was landmark legislation that brought significant federal attention to higher education and how it was funded, both at the institutional level as well as at the individual student level.

If you are interested in reading more about the National Defense Education Act of 1958 you can do so here and here.

1 Often referred to as NDEA.
2 Richard D. Scarfo. “The History of Title VI and Fulbright-Hays,” in International Education in the New Global Era: Proceedings of a National Policy Conference on the Higher Education Act, Title VI, and Fulbright-Hays Programs, ed. John N. Hawkins, Carlos Manuel Haro, Miriam A. Kazanjian, Gilbert W. Merkx and David Wiley. (Los Angeles: International Studies and Overseas Programs, University of California Los Angeles, 1998): 23.

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