The late '60s and early '70s are remembered on many American campuses
as times of strife and protest. It is well known to historians, though perhaps
less so in the popular imagination, that much of the Vietnam-era
campus protest centered on the conduct of academic research.
Some protesters took up an overtly anti-science agenda. More often,
though, campus protesters wanted to have a say in what was researched
at their universities, who got to participate, where the funding came
from, and how long it would take for academic research to deliver benefits
to American society.
A case study of electrical engineering research at Stanford during this
period shows how faculty and graduate students at the forefront of the Vietnam-era movement for research interdisciplinarity went on to play
pivotal roles in the creation of key nanotechnology research institutions
that helped shape the development of the nanoenterprise.