Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Since the end of World War II the field of oceanography has enjoyed the generous patronage of the federal government under the "social contract" model for the support of science. This model is based on the principles of freedom and autonomy for scientists, insulation of science from politics, and emphasis on basic research. With the recent ending of the Cold War, the simple science policies of the post-World War II years are being philosophically and politically challenged and the rationales for the support of science are being questioned. National security is no longer the driving force behind science funding in the United States. With a heavy dependence on the federal government for support and strong roots in the Cold War, oceanographic science is particularly vulnerable at this time to shifts in national priorities. Calls have been made for the negotiation of a new social contract between scientists and the federal government. In this paper a model for a new social contract is suggested based on the democratization of science. Indicators of democratization are presented and data relevant to the oceanographic field are analyzed. It is concluded that a shift is underway toward the democratization of academic oceanography in the United States in the post-Cold War era.