Presented at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.
We in the USA are blessed to have a large number of Universities that have intellectual environments of remarkable creativity – generated by the synergy among world-class programs in science, engineering, and management together with extraordinary programs in the arts, humanities, architecture, and the social sciences. This provides an ideal educational setting in the first decade of the 21st century. Our faculties, students, staff, and graduates will most likely make breakthrough discoveries and redraw the intellectual map in areas that will define the quality of our future. We will bring our talents to bear on the toughest challenges and most exciting opportunities before us. We will reinvent ourselves and our institutions, along the way.
The future – of science, society, and universities themselves will depend on how these Universities respond to the following:
- First, the end of science is nowhere in sight. Indeed, we stand at the brink of many new scientific adventures. Understanding the brain and the mind, for instance, will be one of the most profound and productive scientific ventures in the years to come – one that will have great implications for maximizing human potential and for living long and living well.
- The strength of economies, regions, and nations will be determined in large measure by technological and organizational innovation. This innovation must be built upon a foundation of new research in science, engineering, and management.
- Humankind’s advances will depend increasingly on new integrative approaches to complex systems, problems, and structures. Design, synthesis, and synergy across traditional disciplinary boundaries will be essential elements of both education and research. Engineering, for example, will provide instruments and techniques to facilitate the rapid advancement of the biological and physical sciences. Biology and physics, in turn, will create revolutionary new approaches to engineering and production, as well as to health care.
- Research universities will grow in importance as the primary source of fundamental research and scholarship in the United States.
- The need for leaders to solve the complex problems of the modern world requires a new paradigm for the research university itself – one in which industry, academia, and governments work together in effective partnership. For example, the quality of our environment, the sustainability of economies, and the efficient use of our material and energy resources, will depend upon sound scientific and engineering knowledge leading to action by all three partners.
- The flow of information will be instantaneous and ubiquitous, as the technology, applications, and benefits of computer, information, and intelligence sciences evolve, expand, and become more central still to human activities.
- Information technology will dramatically alter learning and working. Many faculty will change their teaching role from one of lecturing to one of shaping and guiding the use of electronically-available information. They will lead team efforts in both campus-based and electronic communities.
- Still, the residential campus experience will remain the best and most important form of education of our most talented youth.
- Our security and quality of life will require that all people work together to form a coherent, productive society, built on common values as well as rich diversity. This will not occur unless it is fostered within our schools and universities