The Effect of the Cold War on Stem Education

Topics: Cold War, Soviet Union, United States Pages: 12 (3942 words) Published: November 26, 2012
The Effect of the Cold War Arm’s Race on STEM Occupations during the Cold War Ketib Oldiais
Mr. Kelley
IB Asian and European History HL

A. Plan of Investigation 5 marks
During the Cold War, the struggle for power between the communists of Soviet Russia and the pro-democracy politicians of the United States escalated in numerous proxy wars, acts of espionage, and potential nuclear warfare. Behind it all however, the Cold War was a breeding ground for competition in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. From the 1960s, upon the spark of the Space Race with the Soviet Launch of Sputnik, to the 1990s with the reunion of East and West Germany, the Cold War was a period of increase in occupations related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Using statistical data during the Cold War’s time frame related to this increase, we can ask the question—to what extent did the Cold War effect the number of occupations related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics? Answering such a question will provide us with the necessary details in understanding why and how the increase of such occupations occurred specifically during the Cold War compared to other historical eras. For the sake of keeping this research paper within the word count limit, the term “science, technology, engineering, and mathematics”, will be shortened to STEM.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which STEM related variables of the Cold War such as the space race, acts of espionage, proxy wars, as well as the improvement of military weapons, affected the statistics regarding STEM related occupations at the time. To achieve the purpose of providing an answer to the research question, I will utilize statistical data from before, during, and after the Cold War. This data will be presented in such a way that they may be compared to each other, providing the understanding that there was indeed an increase and decrease of such STEM related occupations. After establishing this, such fluctuations in statistical data will be attributed to Cold War events at the time of the fluctuation. A large proportion of the statistical data utilized will be from government statistical agencies and university polls. By achieving my purpose, the reader may come to understand the role STEM related variables and occupations in global affairs, and the extent to which they effect B. Summary of Evidence 4 marks

Throughout much of the Cold War, competition between pro-Democracy countries and their Communist counterparts was tense. The Soviets and their proxies were determined to expand their influence, the United States was just as determined to stop them. STEM related resources were almost always credited with decisive victories, whether in espionage or wartime. Science and technology, as Daniel Yankovich, a social scientist from Harvard University had once stated, “were almost universally credited with a decisive role in gaining victory in war, prosperity in peace, enhancing national security, improving our health, and enriching the quality of life”.

Throughout much of the 1950s, the United States felt, and appeared, as though it had the upper hand and prowess in STEM related fields. This was still the mind set throughout the decade, even with the introduction of Soviet made nuclear bombs. By 1957 however, America had been beaten to the space race. With the launch of the Soviet Sputnik, America’s comfort in the idea that they were the leaders of this particular field was shattered. Quick on its feet, the United States immediately began pushing effort for a larger STEM taskforce. Congress began focusing in on funding the American education system, and the result was a huge growth in STEM related occupations. By the 1980s, there were approximately 2.5 million employees in STEM related fields (National Science Board, Science and Engineering Indicators 2008, Figure 3-1).

This increase in public...
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