IN HIS March 1983 speech announcing the Star Wars program (officially called the Strategic Defense Initiative [SDI]), President Reagan called on this nation's scientists and engineers to develop a defensive shield against Soviet land-based nuclear missiles. Therefore, scientists and engineers were placed in a special position to evaluate the program's prospects, and they had a responsibility to respond to the President's call based on their informed assessment of the program.
This article documents an unprecedented response to a military program: a national boycott of Star Wars research in which science and engineering professors have pledged neither to solicit nor accept SDI research funds. In each of well over 120 research departments in relevant fields, half or more of the faculty members have joined the boycott. The pledge signers include a clear majority of the nearly 1000 faculty members in the nation's 20 top physics departments. There are over 12 000