"I've thought that science could be the basis for a better world, and that's what I've been trying to do all these years."
-Congressman George Brown (1920-1999)
Congressman George E. Brown Jr. was chairman of the House Science Committee during the 102nd and 103rd Congresses and was well known in the Congress for his work on science and technology issues. He was a recognized leader in forming the institutional framework for science and technology in the Federal government.
Trained in industrial physics, Brown worked as a civil engineer for many years before entering politics. First elected in 1962, Brown would serve 18 terms, eventually rising to chair the House Science Committee.
An energetic proponent of environmental preservation and a strong national investment in science and technology, Brown led efforts in the 1960s and 1980s to restructure and strengthen the National Science Foundation (NSF), giving the agency more active engineering and education roles. Called the "wise man of science" by then NSF Director Rita Colwell, Brown championed the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Technology Assessment in the early 1970s.
Consistent with his long-held conviction that the nation needed a coherent technology policy, Brown developed an extensive technology initiative during his initial year as Chairman. This work articulated his concept of a partnership between the public and private sectors to improve the nation's competitiveness.
Such successes and his continuing concern to demonstrate the practical application of advances in science and technology, he instituted the first international videoconferences in the U.S. Congress, in March of 1992. During these conferences, Members of the Science Committee exchanged ideas on science and technology via satellite with counterparts from the Commonwealth of Independent States. At these talks the foundation was laid for what would become CRDF Global.
Brown would live long enough to see CRDF Global as the summation of his vision for a strong public-private partnership, model for international scientific collaboration, and an expanded role of science as a mechanism for peace and prosperity, at home and abroad.
Brown brought a visionary perspective to Congressional dialogue by routinely presenting ideas far ahead of the mainstream agenda. George Brown talked about conservation and renewable energy sources, technology transfer, sustainable development, environmental degradation, and an agency devoted to civilian technology when there were few listeners, and even fewer converts.
Unwavering, he stuck to these beliefs, even until his 1999 passing. Praising his career, President Bill Clinton stated, "For almost 40 years, George Brown challenged us to build a better world. Our nation has lost a good man and an irreplaceable voice for science and justice."
CRDF Global has chosen to honor him through the creation of an award to recognize an individual who continues and furthers his vision.