Guam is a small island with a dedicated and well-respected education and research community in the midst of a vast Pacific sea and at the edge of the deepest place on earth (Marianas Trench).
Modern development, technology, and climate change are impacting this resilient island that is only 209 square miles. Guam has a rich research terrain, from tropical island environment to coral reefs to ocean depths resources. Many of the marine plants and animals can be found nowhere else on earth.
Guam’s residents originate from all parts of the Asia-Pacific region in addition to the U.S. mainland. In addition to Guam’s indigenous Chamorro people, who comprise approximately 47% of the population, large numbers of mainland Americans, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, and South Koreans constitute the majority of Guam’s population. There are also substantial numbers of Micronesian islanders, Vietnamese and East Indians. Guam’s diverse population makes it one of the most cosmopolitan communities in the Western Pacific. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Guam’s 2010 population estimate was 159,358. This represents a 2.9% increase over the 2000 U.S. Census tabulation of 154,805, which was in turn a 16.3% increase over the 1990 population of 133,152.
The social and cultural tapestry of the region retains traditions and practices from before western contact and colonization; Pacific Islanders excelled at open ocean navigation long before Magellan had traversed the western hemisphere and established a metric base for global navigation. Guam has been impacted by modernization, yet it remains resilient with rich biodiversity, cultural survival, and environmental integrity.
Guam is an island surrounded by a sensitive marine environment and time sensitive issues. Once the marine and terrain assets are depleted, damaged or destroyed, there is no replacement. Researchers in Guam are charged with not only leveraging their assets, but ensuring that the assets remain for generations to come.
Within an island environment the physical assets are what mold the social and cultural aspects. Guam’s biggest strengths are also its biggest weaknesses. Remoteness has allowed Guam to maintain its rich cultural heritage, and also, to a certain extent, it’s pristine land and water environment. However, remoteness has contributed to its inability to retain human capital, and to obtain physical and financial assets as readily as other larger and more centrally located population centers.
To determine the direction and focus of this plan, the plan coordinating team enlisted leading specialists and experts from organizations that are involved in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education and research. Directors of government agencies and Guam’s business communities also were engaged at the Steering Committee level to give their input into their needs and expected deliverables from the education and research community. An outreach STEM needs survey was distributed to business and government entities to solicit their input for this report. It was well received by the community, with responses from 104 organizations across the island eager to have their voices heard.
A general consensus was reached during multiple facilitated meetings; Guam has incredible potential for STEM achievements and contributions to the global research community. Guam has a tradition and history of innovation, but Guam still lacks the resources to implement a world class STEM plan with accompanying funding sources that is cohesive, communicated well, and maximizes technology.
Guam’s strength is in its resourcefulness. Limited resources and inaccessibility due to Guam’s isolated location dictate that the islanders create and modify available resources for functionality. Because resources are scarce, they are maximized and shared by the group.
Another strength is Guam’s ability to effectively collaborate between and among the key stakeholders in academics, business and government in the application of innovation. Transfer of knowledge from research into actionable innovation in the business community is efficient and swift because of the small size of the island and its close-knit community.
Goals for the development of science and technology were agreed to by the local STEM academic community as well as Guam’s STEM Steering Committee. They are articulated below:
- GOAL 1: MICRONESIA INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH HUB
Develop global recognition as the facilitator for studying sustainability related issues and knowledge for Guam and the surrounding Micronesia Region.
- GOAL 2: STEM CAPACITY BUILDING
Produce a STEM-competent Micronesia-centric workforce by providing a holistic, place-based education pipeline to meet the localized sustainability needs of the government and the private sector while encouraging and supporting local entrepreneurial efforts.
- GOAL 3: STEM INFRASTRUCTURE
Provide the infrastructure that will allow Guam access to facilities and equipment that support needed research; as well as enhance connectivity among government, educational and academic institutions.
- GOAL 4: COMMUNICATION
Increased communication in the Micronesia region to facilitate informed decision-making, knowledge sharing and continuing education that helps develop a regional community of life-long STEM learners. Each goal is supported by objectives, from which activities were developed and measurement methods were determined.