Conant, James Bryant (1893-1978), a United States chemist, educator, and diplomat. Long an influential educator, he won added fame during the late 1950's and in the 1960's for a series of reports on United States public schools. In The American High School Today (1959), he recommended better instruction in mathematics, science, English, and foreign languages. In Slums and Suburbs (1961) he asked that more money be made available to inner-city schools. The Education of American Teachers (1963) urged the elimination of most teacher-training courses.

Conant was born in Boston, Massachusetts. After receiving his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1916, he taught organic chemistry there and made important studies on the chemical nature of chlorophyll and hemoglobin. As president of Harvard, 1933-53, he established an innovative program for graduate study in education.

Conant's other writings include On Understanding Science (1947), Science and Common Sense (1951), Shaping Educational Policy (1964), and The Comprehensive High School (1967). My Several Lives (1970) is his autobiography.