U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs; National Institute of Justice The Research, Development, and Evaluation Agency of the U.S. Department of Justice U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice ProgramsNational Institute of JusticeThe Research, Development, and Evaluation Agency of the U.S. Department of Justice

Embracing a Culture of Science — A Message From the Director

This is the first in a series of conversations with John H. Laub, Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of Justice.

What we need to do is create a culture of science and research within the institute. And what I'd like to see happen is that we, as an institute embrace, science. For me what that means is embracing empirical data, embracing transparency and also embracing a critical perspective. And I don't mean a critical perspective in terms of necessarily leading to conflict but the idea of a science is to challenge: To challenge a conventional wisdom, to challenge what people think is right and to be able to develop a critical skeptical attitude. I think good scientists are skeptical. In other words, using conflict if we disagree about something, but using it to understand each other better rather than making it personal — in the sense of, I think, pushing things so that we don't accept what has been always the case, or we've done this because this is the way it's happened.

And it creates, also, I think, a more open environment, an environment where more people can participate in terms of exchange, and I think that would be a wonderful thing if we could do that.

I think what it means for me is that all people at NIJ, whether they're involved in the ... all of us are going to be involved in the science at some level because we're here. So I think part of it is to, when you think of NIJ you think of NIJ as a science agency. And that's a cultural value that the Institute upholds, celebrates, and everyone agrees with, everyone buys in to. Now for others, I think it is going to be intellectual for people who are actually creating the science. That is going to be, also, for them part of an intellectual pursuit to create the best science possible; that's rigorous and as I've said repeatedly that's of importance to the field at large. So again, I think it's both a process as well a substance in terms of what it means to be a culture — what it means to be an agency that embraces science and what it means to develop a culture of science within the agency.

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March 2011
John H. Laub, Director, National Institute of Justice

John Laub discusses the creation of a culture of science within the Institute, including the value of embracing transparency and a critical perspective.

NIJ Director's Corner | NIJ's Multimedia Page | NIJ Home Page

Date created: March 22, 2011