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For All Worldwide, A Holistic View

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Volume II - Chapter One

(Last updated July 2, 2007)


Our. . . universities. . . float above our global problems like a lovely sunset over a battlefield. H.G. Wells

A scientist must have the courage, to tackle the large problems of the times, and to advance solutions by innumerable experiments done without critical delay."  --Otto Warburg

Isaac Newton did not realize that the vast ocean of undiscovered truth. . .before him would contain such scientific wonders. . .the secret of life, the atom, the mind. . .Now a new ocean has opened up, . . .a wondrous ocean of scientific possibilities. . . --Michio Kaku

The explosive growth of computer technology has transformed every field of research.                                                                         --Douglas Robertson.

These disruptive technologies, which initially appear to be rather primitive, are stimulating the appearance of entirely new approaches to research. --James Duderstadt

THINK BIG about research to transform education and through worldwide learning to provide a quality life for everyone on the planet! Bimolecular Chemist Paul Bertics (in Vacca 2005) pointed out that the more scientists learn about something "the more we realize what we don't know." Many of the most important issues in research are yet to be resolved. At the same time public and political support is lacking "to meet future challenges of food and water, urban sprawl, disease, pollution, security, energy, poverty and education."  However, technology is moving ahead at a rapid pace and is likely to lead to transformations in ways no one is yet anticipating.

The move to provide lifelong education for everyone in the world needs at its core a global virtual  research system.. (3.10) So here in volume two we propose that large-scale, more holistic problem-oriented research must be the `power house' for those efforts. The crystal balls that many experts are using to predict the future of research--especially in the context of global virtual education--seem to be clouded, especially about blueprints and designs for its architecture in cyberspace. No one yet knows what surprises the Internet and new research technologies may bring. Will a global electronic research community dance around as money markets have? The 2004 OECD report on funding lifelong learning points out that lifelong learning is “a key strategy” for achieving “social progress and economic growth and reports on research to find new approaches to funding.  If political leaders lack of vision and information where otherwise are they to get it? Legislators get advice from lobbyists, but how often do they get alternative proposals, possible solutions spelled out in possible legislation and funding procedures? Should university researchers be preparing alternative kinds of legislation for citizens to debate? Or how else are citizens going to be motivated to act?

Smarr (2003) reported that "the world we have built in academia" is not prepared for the `perfect storm' (movie analogy) that is going to be caused when the large storm of `info-bio-nanotechnology' hits; a coming at the same time as and `information technology and telecommunication storm, a nanotechnology storm coming from engineering, technology, physics and chemistry; and a a storm of `post-genomic math-biology.  Faculty who limit themselves to research in one discipline, he says, are "going to be in for a rude shock" sd it becomes essential to bring many sciences together. More important and helpful will be the digitalization of all library resources that has accelerated in the last ten years. (1,5)

Research for the future of learning as reshaped by new tools is also related to research in many other areas and disciplines and perhaps can also be facilitated by projects like PlanetLab, a network for research involving universities initially in 16 countries and 1000 servers across round the globe. <http://www.planet-lab.org/php/overview.php>.,  an open, " globally distributed test bed' that may be a forerunner of many such collaboration projects. <http://www.planet-lab.org/>. It was reported in July 2003 that MIT was developing a search engine that could help people in developing countries with poor Internet connections. The US National Science Foundation - PlayStation2 goal "is to assess the utility and performance of systems built from low cost game systems (based on the Sony PlayStation2) and commodity clusters with graphics accelerators, for scientific computing and high resolution visualization. This assessment is based on quantitative performance assessment of this hardware and development of a set of adaptive performance analysis tools that support both offline and online performance optimization for scientific codes."

RENCI research--the Renaissance Computer Institute at Duke University and the University of North Carolina--has announced its intention to be "focused on answering the big questions of life: those relating to life and nature, matter and the universe, and humanity. Because answering the big questions requires a big infrastructure," the other key part of its research is into building high performance computing infrastructures. The International Journal of Education and Development seeks to help communities in poor and rural sections of developing countries and seeks to make research findings freely available..<http://ijedict.dec.uwi.edu/>.

Negroponte (2003) has pointed out that "without innovation we are doomed" and has said that "higher education...will have to change in order to ensure a perpetual source of new ideas;" that universities must be re-invented to be interdisciplinary. Many others have decided that the conventional and traditional learning system as they are will not survive the information age. Wulf (2003) has predicted "whole new areas of research and new methods of investigation."  Dramatic transformation, he has said, "are going to shake the foundations of scholarship in the liberal arts." Since the experts really know so little (except in limited fields), what is the role of research, especially global-scale research in creating a global virtual lifelong learning system to serve everyone on the planet; especially adequate research on education itself? `Meta analysis' (large-scale collaboration in comparing and evaluating findings in many disparate fields) is needed to improve the precision and certainty of science in a time when virtually every field  comes up with findings that differ "from previously established truths" and  that "disagree with one another, often vehemently." ( Hunt (1977)

The context for that mega-research is in 2002 perhaps best described by Rischard (2002) who has found that existing efforts  "are useful for raising awareness but weak when it comes to effective global problem-solving,"  that  traditional organizations and procedures are not alone going to be able to to cope with the stresses ahead. (See Scully 2000) (*1.4 ) Harvard educator Dede's (2004) work on learning devices "expand human capabilities for knowledge creation, sharing and mastery" and "that lend themselves to complex data manipulation, intensive collaboration and robust archives," using technology "that range from massive multi-player Internet games" with streaming video--"to various kinds of hand-held devices" that are" well suited for immersive learning environments.

If Rischard (2002) is right, research in education must be part of a larger research context that that includes a wide range of global crises, some of which are discussed here in volume two. Rischard proposes using the networking and communication technologies to create a Global Issues Network (see 3.10) to mobilize agencies of government, civil society, education and business. We here propose that  those issue networks would seek to relate education research to research on all other major issues and crises, especially the ten proposed here and the twenty listed by Rischard. Wiley (2006) has reported how the quality of research is being improved by online peer reviewed resources in digital form, soon hundreds of thousands of reports shared by scholars in many countries, open software and sources enabling research int he scholarly to move to new heights.. .  


Molnar (1977) pointed to the overwhelming size and complexity of the knowledge scientists are producing. Based on his experience at the National Science Foundation he estimated that "it would take centuries to read the annual biomedical research literature." Surely he meant years? No, he said, knowledge is expanding so fast that it would take seven centuries. How can any one researcher or helpful librarian cope with that? Who at this time is even willing to guess how long it will take to interpret and make available the vast data which orbiting satellites and telescopes are bringing from outer space? And there is a wide neglect of research findings from developing countries. Also the Chronicle of Higher Education (Monastersky 2005) reported that a third of scientists surveyed admitted that their research could be flawed of careless or deliberate overlooking of mistakes.

A second problem is the lack of adequate funding for research from tax-conscious legislators, the military, corporations and foundations. At a time when leading nations cannot adequately fund all that needs to be done," Gibbons (1994) asked, "Could not the need for cost and information-sharing provide the conditions for bolder thinking in international terms for more rational use of resources, by reorganizing the international division of labor" and coordination in research? Brainard (2002) that funding agencies are increasingly supporting interdisciplinary science, since many of today's problems are "so broad and complex that they are unlikely to be solved by researchers trained in one discipline alone." (See research  funding issue in 3.9).

Third, the rapid growth of electronic distance education is moving some universities worldwide into a competitive business approach to funding. Whether we like it or not, much of education is becoming a not very-well managed global industry. No one yet knows how university research is going to be reshaped by political and economic globalization. Will other institutions take over research? As in the economy, globalization of education has its negative side. When there is no international governance, laws or administrative system, will global higher education spin off into cutthroat competition? On the other hand will new consortia for research collaboration emerge in the global `virtual' university? Motivation for collaborative research might arise from the new opportunities provided by communications technology and because of the desperate needs of underdeveloped areas of the world. Nations give up some sovereignty in a global society. Universities, professions, individual researchers and disciplines may also lose some sovereignty as a new global research system emerges. No one scholar can know all that is known in any field. The eye researcher knows the eye, the heart researcher knows the heart, but increasingly it takes a research network, linking many research teams to put the whole human body together. That is even more true of research on complex human society. Surely increasingly powerful interconnected supercomputers will in time make it possible to bring it all together. <http://www.gridcomputingplanet.com/faq/>

Each researcher and her/his database could become part of a global system that brings together all that is proven in a field with links to all research in other fields that may be pertinent. Such opportunities suggest that the world of research is now going to change dramatically and at unprecedented speed. Who, however, is to do the research on how to build essential new collaborative research institutions in cyberspace? (Levy 1997). See: <http://www.nsf.gov/>. Also can research in education and the social sciences really become more scientific? See <http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/>. 

Illustrative models of components for a global research system were reported in New Scientist, 12 October 2002; including the Center for Advanced European Study and Research that brings together transdisciplinary teams that take three different approaches the same problem from different points of view. They continue working on a problem for as long as eight years. Another is the European Molecular Biology Lab that has five locations A third, in Sicily, has since 1963 brought together over 70,000 creative experts to share together the latest developments in their field, and to relate their experience to the serving of human needs. A better illustration (Monastersky 2005 ) is the joint research on particle physics of thousands of scientists <http://interactions.org/quantumdiaries> who work around the clock in over thirty countries.  The Atlas project has become the largest collaborative project ever attempted in the physical sciences.

2.1.2  SOME CLOUDY CRYSTAL BALL PREDICTIONS  <http://interactions.org/quantumdiaries>

Looking at the history of  education research and some current trends, we introduced in Volume One (1.8) a suggested scenario for creating a global virtual research university in virtual/cyberspace:

(1) The scenario proposed that designated research universities be aided to work in concert with participating research institutions worldwide. A consortium in a diverse world include many other kinds of research institutions; for example, urban universities that focus on the instructional and research needs and problems of expanding cities. We must work `with" developing world people, however, and not just "for" them: <http://www.scidev.net/aboutus.html

(2) `Big science' could be globally coordinated, fulfilling the dream of H.G. Wells (Mayne 1994) that universities could much better serve humanity by eliminating a great deal of duplication of work. In this model the global virtual research university might emerge as an overlay above the great variety of existing institutions. It would consist of the joint work of all the world's research laboratories and universities and would increasingly be enlarged through consortia, such as those which to some extent are already operating on the Internet/Web. Traditional universities are divided into subject-matter departments and professional schools, one of the hallmarks of the `global virtual research university' would be flexibility, adaptability to all kinds of new needs and situations.

In a 2002 DEOS online discussion on how `scientific' social science research can be, Steve Eskow questioned the scientific viability, for example, of polls and surveys administered to `samples.' He 'cited the 2000 edition of C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination where Mills said that the question of whether social sciences could mimic the style of the `natural' sciences (observation, experiment, measurement)--would become "of enormous importance to the character of the future university, to the liberal arts tradition." Again note H-Net (Humanities.): <http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/>.

Wulf (2003) has pointed out that students will be increasingly involved in research as `big science projects involve "hundreds or even thousands of researchers' and when their "research instruments are geographically distributed around the globe." He illustrated with a project that begins to generate a data stream that would fill about 20 miles of shelving each year.

(3) The Director of the Annenberg Center for Communication (Daley 2003) has suggested that multimedia literacy--one of the languages of the younger generation today--is beginning to enable better communication across disciplinary boundaries, providing "a much-needed new space iin which cross-disciplinary conversation can occur between the humanities and the sciences." Visuals often communicate where specialized verbal languages do not.


Many critics feel that  current academic structures have become a deterrent to badly needed research. Sinnott (1996) foresaw electronic communication networks linking research centers into a global problem-focused university. Its mission would be "to work towards the solution of worldwide global problems." Businesses and industry would be invited to join in consortia, helping to "fund the research and pay royalties for products and processes invented and patented" there; an issue now being debated.. Centers with a particular focus would become "the building blocks of transition to the multisite problem-focused university." It would be "dispersed physically and joined electronically."

This scenario--one among many possibilities--focuses on the need for a visionary `thoughtful big picture.' An "international problem-focused university research system requires freedom to operate across borders (national and disciplinary) for everyone's good," Sinnott suggested. It may require negotiated agreements to give the virtual university a type of diplomatic immunity or "international waters status."

Yale Graduate School Dean Pelikan (1992) pointed out how universities have been at the center of humanity's crises. Academia throughout the twentieth century has been dominated by the threat and reality of war and has been "the primary staging area for peace." University research (2.8.3) has greatly reduced famine through  collaboration between arts and sciences (plant genetics) and a professional school (agriculture, of course universities do not get full credit for the `green revolution' research of Nobel prize winner, Norman Borlaug.) Also Dean Pelikan said, great advances in health care assumed that the entire university, not just a hospital or medical school, is the essential setting for medical research. The same thing is true in ecology, education and other crises. 

The academic research system has become the heart of a marvelous global research instrument. Greater imagination, larger vision, more creativity, however, are crucial if academia is to be at the center of a research renaissance in cyberspace. Gibbons would include all knowledge producing, knowledge mediating and knowledge diffusing institutions like "professional societies, government and corporate R&D laboratories, think-tanks, nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) and advocacy groups." A way should be found to engage all who try to cope with serious issues, including policy making and consultants. The president of Global Education Associates (Mische 1997) discussed "repatterning of relationships" in a global society, between people and government, between learning and science, between science and ordinary people in a search for `global solutions.' This would involve collaborating, empowering and harmonizing.

The notion that "national science systems have become dysfunctional and need to be overhauled" challenges cherished beliefs and dogmas. The UNESCO Courier, May 1999, asked who owns science and to what purpose? Humanity, the editorial said, has the right to ask science to give priority to such problems as inequality, injustice, mechanisms of global disruption. The production of new and better knowledge, Gibbons says, will take place "within the cross fertilization among disciplines and cultures." Human society now has global-scale tools to make this possible and effective, at least in cyberspace.


Can larger-scale research better solve global-scale problems? Young (2004) reported that collaborations involving multiple-institutions produce fewer results because of many complications. On the other hand we asked NASA if the space program had ever taken seriously the jibe that "if we can put a man on the moon why can't we use the same large-scale teamwork and science to solve social problems on earth?" Yes, we were told, the first director of the USA  space program had given a series of lectures (Webb 1969) at Columbia University in which he foresaw the emergence of "a new breed of research scholar" and of much larger-scale research on humanity's issues. Efforts like the space program, he said, are so large because the need they serve is urgent and important. The space program can in a sense be a model for systems now needed "in programs for undeveloped regions . . . where large-scale endeavors are required." Society can now learn "what has made success possible in an accumulating number of quite diverse large-scale endeavors, of which NASA is one." So also, years earlier, H.G. Wells had pointed to the critical need for the large-scale approach in an era of rapid and unpredictable change.

Human society has reached a point, Webb said, "where even its survival increasingly depends on our ability to organize the complex and do the unusual." This often may require huge aggregations of resources and many minds in linked teamwork. Needed are proven methods with as little risk as possible. (2.5.4). Many great social problems press on us, he said; for example we cannot save our inner cities (and we would add the sprawling urban centers in the developing world like Lagos) without the effective application of new knowledge, large resources and a diversity of skills drawn from many disciplines. The same is true in ecology, the population crisis and feeding the world. "Piecemeal attacks simply will not work," he said. We are not even yet sure what there is to know, but for example, beyond current huge research into DNA and protein can be identifying and studying every existing species on earth--including many we are not yet aware of at the bottom f the sea-- and every aspect of outer space.

Almost limitless opportunities are open to human society and higher education, Webb said, because of new technology that "is the decisive event of our time." He had no idea of the research possibilities inherent in fantastic technologies now under development when he said that humanity now has proven means for systematically enlarging and applying it to constructive ends to do "what we have hardly ever dreamed of before." Where oceans, the atmosphere and outer space were previously thought of separately, we now see they are all part of one cosmic system. For the first time we have the means to understand and reshape great human systems. "The knowledge we have now staggers the imagination," he said. The technology, knowledge and the pool of highly educated people now "make it possible to accomplish almost any task." What has been in a short time accomplished in aeronautics and space point the way to what we can do in other areas if we only make the effort. He quoted Bixenstine who pointed out that "the great advances in science are associated with its grand conceptions (2.4.1) even more than with its discoveries." New and larger visions are now needed. Traditional structures are inadequate, yet what can replace them? Webb quoted Bennis on the need for "adaptive, problem-solving, temporary systems of diverse specialists, linked together. . . in organized flux."

Until it can be tried with the greatly enhanced computer power of the future we cannot for sure know the extent which data and case studies from millions of cases can improve the quality of social science research and the extent to which `subcognitive' questions can be answered with statistical  information extracted  from 350 million web pages and by using computer programming rather than math. <http://www.wolframscience.com/> Robertson (2003) sees change coming very quickly and on a much larger and more comprehensive scale. One illustration is reported by Freeman Dyson in the March 2005, MIT Technology Review.  He pointed to new evidence, farther back to the beginning of the universe that describes aspects of evolution that Darwin could not know, and that now "cultural evolution has replaced biological evolution as the driving force of change," with the `horizontal exchange of ideas'' more important genetic inheritance. :"Evolution of life will again be communal" As at the beginning of the universe. 


Webb also pointed out that large-scale projects are not unique to our time. He notes the great wall of China, the great railway systems, world-scale wars and the Marshall Plan. Now, however, global-scale crises require that researchers must often collaborate beyond the specializations that have made great advances possible in the industrial age. To fulfill their future role in a global society, Webb said, universities must recognize the need to become much more than trusted sources of knowledge. They can no longer stand aloof from society's fundamental needs. He mentioned DeToqueville's worry about what would happen "when the issues . . . are too complex for general understanding" and pointed out that we have new capacities for dealing with complexity. (2.5.4) Indeed, the complexity in the space program was far beyond what DeToqueville worried about. Just one NASA development center, at Huntsville, Alabama, generated twenty-two boxcars of data in one year. That may be a fraction of what will be required, for example, in studying the weather of the planet in the context of the whole universe. NASA not only needed to depend on many universities, it also needed to help universities enlarge their research vision, a need which now is even greater.

One glimpse of the future has been  perhaps seen in projects like the nonprofit Worldwide Universities Network for research. (Carnvale 2002). As it began in 2001 it connected eleven universities, including Pennsylvania State University, the University of York (UK), and two universities in China  to do research, for instance,  on nanotechnology, weather patterns and software for online courses.  The intention has been to bring together university researchers with common interests to work together, teams that can be more effective in transdisciplinary reseach..

For example Neil Gershenfeld of the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT has described it online as involving about 20 research groups that include biologists, chemists, physicists, mathematicians, various kinds of engineers — all people like me for whom the boundary between computer science and physical science never made sense. "We think about how information relates its physical properties. The way the world's evolved, hardware has been separated from software, and channels from their content, but many of the hardest, most challenging, and most interesting problems lie right at this interface. These range from some of the deepest questions about how the universe works to some of the most important current technological frontiers."

Perhaps as important in the long range arer new kinds of learning instruments as seen in such developments as `modding' in which electronic learning instruments like computer games build in a capacity for users to build in their own `mod'-ifictations as they work in teams. Projects such as `Games that Teach' <http://www.educationarcade.org/gtt/proto.html>, and the `Education Arcade <http://www.educationarcade.org/>, may become the launching pads for vast new research projects.


A crisis-motivated scenario presumes some assumptions and raises questions such as:

First, the many miserably impoverished areas of Asia, Africa, Latin America and many inner cities are inseparable parts of `our one world' so that what happens there is sooner or later going to effect Europe, America and the rest of the planet, the terrorism of the 21st century may be a beginning. The prosperous, more highly educated nations cannot long prosper while half the world lacks essential education and therefore is sick, starving in body and mind. So collaborative research must engage scientists in the developing countries. New communication technologies make that possible now as never before.

Second, the telecommunications and Internet that can extend education and training worldwide can also enlarge the community of researchers. (Gibbons 1994) Research will become part of all learning in school and on the job. In an information age, research and helping everyone learn to do research, may become as essential as learning to think.

Third, the lifelong oriented virtual research university--central to a global cyberspace research network--need not threaten the existing departmental disciplinary organization of higher education. It can link faculties and disciplines, enlarge their vision and involve many of them in transdisciplinary research projects. Shouldn't nearly every discipline have something to contribute as research assumes a holistic view of the universe? Researchers can continue precise specialties and also contribute to transdisciplinary projects.

Fourth, information technology makes it possible to organize the virtual university's research around two almost contrary but essential tasks. On one hand, that of providing the intellectual resources, the content, the organization of knowledge and research which are essential for education to be made available to a much larger percentage of the world's population. Also it can marshal the resources for larger-scale research, connecting expertise in economic analysis, agriculture, geography, political science, anthropology, law, sociology, ecology, and often much more.

Fifth, research collaboration in many areas can be enlarged to include voluntary groups, internationally, regionally, nationally and locally, commonly called NGOs. These organizations represent citizens concerned, for example, with human rights, ecology, justice and democracy, such as those represented at the International Forum on Globalization at George Washington University in May, 1996. Their active participation in research may cause change as drastic as that which came with the invention of printing, especially if indigenous minorities become actively involved. Their participation is essential for research on the impact, for example, of projected planetary management designs on their cultures and on the planet's ecology. Is it too radical to suggest, for the long run, that research which effects the entire planet should involve scholars in all nations?


A brilliant university researcher in Africa, cynical and discouraged, has often sat by a polluted river, puzzling over what to do with his life and energy now that his country has fallen into political chaos. . He has lost his hope for the hungry and sick that had inspired him as a teenage student. His own research, and the uncoordinated research projects of his colleagues, may be useful in the `search for truth,' Yet he feels that he is making almost no significant contribution to the solving of crises--that was unfolding before his eyes--that threaten his own river and country. (2.18.2) What new hope and vision of possibilities are available to him now that the ideologies that inspired his generation have failed or have fallen into disrepute? The scholar by the river is not yet connected. In the midst of the clutter and confusion of the Internet and the World Wide Web, can he find a place in a new age of global-scale research? He sees his river's sickness as a symbol of problems that seem impossible for human society to solve within the present structure of political, educational and research institutions.? Can he become involved in reforming and redirecting essential research? Where, he asks, is the research and action required to deal with needs that no small nation like his can possibly solve alone?

He and his colleagues have been very discouraged since they began discussions about future research possibilities. He knows well why some intelligent and educated young people, former students of his including two physicians, became members of terrorist political groups. He, himself, like the best scientists in many such countries, is tempted to abandon his own people and their seemingly intransigent problems. He has a job offer in Europe where he can work alongside leading scientists and have access to the latest scientific equipment, laboratories, journals and information. Yet if he goes, who will lead to revitalize and reform higher education and research in his own country? Accurate information about what is happening to the rivers, air and land in his part of Africa is needed by the global community of scientists. Who is going to bring together the best minds in his own country to develop the new ideas needed there?

In 1997, the `Leland Initiative' and others of the ITU (the international agency that coordinates telecommunications) began to set up a system to provide affordable internet connections to every African country. It was hoped that international funding agencies would extend the connections to every developing world university, research institution and hospital; then ultimately to every school and thus to every village and neighborhood. (2.17.4, 2.18.4) These enlarging connections can make possible new research consortia among universities worldwide. Also, researchers around the world can now be connected "through a scientific paper archive run by scientists at the Los Alamos National Research Laboratory," (,Edupage, May 2, 2001) free of charge via sixteen mirror sites  In 2001 it had been accessed  two million times a week from outside the USA.

Humanity is thus acquiring--perhaps just in time--the networking technology that can bring new hope and energy to developing world researchers. Humanity now has the means to empower globally coordinated research, to link all responsible scientists and scholars, wherever they may be. That can soon include those in the poorest previously disconnected universities. For example a corporation has been created to bring Internet/Web connections to all of Africa via digital radio. Students around the world are now currently maintaining important information sites on the World Wide Web themselves. (Gordon 1996) and there are many technology experiments in the developing world..

Research coordination will for the most part continue to take place within the university system if higher education institutions do not falter in providing leadership. Robert Muller (1984), retired associate general secretary of the United Nations (UN), has pointed to a hopeful partnership that is often almost unnoticed. Among other activities, he said, the UN has become a kind of international research university, its research organized about major global problems. The UN collaborates with colleges, universities and research centers all over the world in the quest for solutions to crises and to meet urgent needs.<http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/cid

Yet, even in the elite universities of the developed world many people do not act as if aware of the revolutionary changes about to take place in cyberspace and research. The pessimists are going to be surprised at how soon new technologies give often unanticipated power to scientists even in the poorest areas of the developing world. Illustrations can be found in the online documentation of such agencies as UNESCO, NASA, the World Bank, the ITU, the United Nations University Millennium Project and nongovernmental organizations that monitor the global scene.

Even those who disagree with policies, programs and actions of some such agencies can be impressed by the wide range of research organized around crucial issues. "Illustrations abound of real world problems defying every attempt to be tackled by a single discipline." (Gibbons 1994) Adequate health care for all in the world, for example, cannot be achieved without solving many economic, political, ecological, educational and political problems simultaneously. Yet now, as never before, such health care provision is possible (2.9.4) and equally real possibilities exist in other crisis areas. Madeline Albright (2004) said at Yale: "...people are threatened each day by an `axis of evil in the form of poverty, ignorance and disease."

Harlan Cleveland (1993) has pointed out that from now on first-rate scientists must and can reach out to colleagues in other fields and on other continents. He quoted John A. Eddy of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, for example, on `an ecumenical movement in the biological and earth sciences.' It brings together disciplines that had been focusing separately on the atmosphere, the oceans, agriculture, geology, geophysics and outer space. Those studying society: "economists, political scientists, social psychologists are hurrying to catch up," Cleveland said. The necessity for global-scale teamwork does not reduce the important contributions of individual researchers or of small teams of researchers in one country. Rather it will make it possible for individuals and teams to be linked so their findings can be placed in the proper index of global data bases and become a part of a larger coordination and sharing of research as in the Human Genome Project.


The pure quest for truth regardless of practical applications will continue to be central to research; indeed, may be crucial in the unexpected. Is there a `pure science' in research for better global-scale education, for research on research itself? Gibbons suggested that the shift from curiosity driven to problem solving priorities will be highly complex. Instead of a single strong flow there will be "cross-currents, eddies, even undertows" caused by economic, political and organizational events; also by shifting intellectual currents and "altered constructions of knowledge." He anticipated new forms of pure research that will "marry the expertise of the natural sciences and the social sciences." So-called impractical research will play an important role in improving the quality of public policy, decision-making, in managing controversies related to risk and to the externalities of technological development.

Kaplan (1994) pointed out that although great individual minds have at times been responsible for spectacular advances, human progress from now on will require a "community of minds." (2.2.1,  2.4.1) Who else can prepare very large large blueprints for mega-science in cyberspace and information age? Some insight into a new and larger science is gained from conclusions of an international `research on research teams reported in The New Production of Knowledge for which the Swedish Council on Research was a sponsor (Gibbons 1994). That team found adequate descriptions of how contemporary science has been producing, organizing and evaluating the knowledge it creates. However, processes were found to be less clear in research to solve social and political problems. This report called the traditional style of research, familiar in the natural sciences, `Mode One' and the emerging new style as `Mode Two.' Mode Two may not be replacing Mode One but is enlarging it. Mode One refers "to a complex of ideas, methods, values, norms. . . that has grown up to control the diffusion of the Newtonian model to more and more fields of enquiry" for what has been considered sound scientific practice. Gibbons is concerned with changes in the humanities as well as in natural and social sciences and sees Mode One as problem-solving within one discipline and often without a practical goal.

Mode Two, on the other hand, seeks to develop knowledge to meet a defined need. It is "intended to be useful. . . in industry, government or society" and continues the research until the need is met. It is Action/Research which draws upon all disciplines to solve a crisis. Gibbons sees Mode Two as an overlay to traditional research methodology. Mode Two is "transdisciplinary rather than mono-or multidisciplinary. It is carried out in nonhierarchical, heterogeneously organized forms that are essentially transient." Also, the report said, it is not being organized primarily within existing university structures since it often involves partnership with government and industry and is becoming more socially accountable.

Mode One is individual and conventional disciplinary research will long continue to be needed also, the report said, and the two Modes will continue to interact with one another. Problem-solving teams require the participation of social scientists working alongside lawyers, engineers, natural scientists and politicians. So Mode Two represents not just a change in scientific method but a transformation. It calls "into question the adequacy of familiar knowledge producing institutions, whether universities, government research institutions or corporate laboratories." Quality of research is then less determined by its contribution to advancing a scholarly discipline or profession and more toward its solution of defined needs, often political, economic and social. There is and must be "a new sensitivity "to the broader implications and consequences of research and decisions made as a result of it." There will be political and social implications which require consulting with various concerned groups, and perhaps entire populations and nations. (2.17.1) The shape of larger-scale research is determined by a more complex and diverse "set of intellectual and social demands" while also giving "rise to genuine basic research. . . Therefore it develops its own distinctive theoretical structures, research methods and modes of practice" which belong to no one discipline." Different subject areas and methods are involved in research to solve different kinds of problems.

Where do Mode Two research findings belong when a transdisciplinary project is completed? Some findings perhaps belong in biology, for example, or in anthropology or engineering or philosophy. To which one discipline, for example, should space exploration be assigned? Peer review becomes more difficult since it is no longer focused on individual or small-team creativity and requires review from peers in more than one discipline for a "wider range of expertise." Traditional Mode One type research is therefore easier to control, manage and evaluate but it leaves many global-scale problems unresolved. Often a scientist or scholar will only at certain times be participating in and contributing to global-scale research projects or may only give some time to complex transdisciplinary problem solving. Theories developed in environmental sciences "in the application mode," for example, "fertilize lines of intellectual advance that live outside disciplinary frameworks." Mode Two--a response both to science and society--"is critically dependent upon emerging computer and communications technologies." It enables close collaboration with experts from a wide range of backgrounds. It creates a socially distributed knowledge system that is already a new reality. Mode Two requires support from the latest such technologies and "is both a cause and consumer of innovations which enhance the flow and transformation of information." Now we ask, what will be mode three?

Now will there be a Mode Three?" (Rischard 2002) The 21st century will be full of organizational surprises" (Killman 1989). "Around 1980 the world changed...as a result of the computer and telecommunication revolutions and the explosion of information." The old style of organizing in divisions, in self-contained departments and specializations which was highly successful at one stage of human development is no longer functional. What we see, Killman says, is the emergence of "the network" as the 21st century form of institution. At the hub, "the traditional division of labor will be replaced by a contemporary division of knowledge organized according to new categories." The "hub" will be responsible for organizing resources, setting goals, establishing priorities and programs and keeping the network together. That hub shift into the global virtual university may bring to birth entirely new research systems.


Bailey (1994) pointed out, the tasks being turned over to computers are for the most part still the same old tasks. They go faster but "the true electronic revolution has not happened yet." Our scientific methods--"and underlying intellectual methodology"--are for the most part still what they were centuries ago, strategies that evolved to serve human society fairly well. Now, however, as all information becomes uniformly coded in bits, these patterns and strategies will change so much that we will hardly be able to recognize them. Some scholars now anticipate another level of research as networks link hundreds of millions of computers on a network where the contents of the entire Library of Congress could be communicated in a few seconds. So is the scientific world in a situation comparable to that facing the pony express that tried to find faster horses once the telegraph was invented?

Instead of just speeding up old science, blueprints are now needed for a transformation to cope with biological and cultural worlds where there is perpetual novelty and change. Our children, Bailey predicted, may see the bringing together of "all knowledge' in ways that are inconceivable to us. (2.2.1). They will learn new parallel ways before learning the old sequential ways of thought. Resnik of MIT is reputed to have said that our grandchildren will "live comfortably in the new chapter of the Book of Nature" yet to be written. They will share in "the grander adventure of collective analysis of the new riches of data about our planet."

Meanwhile a virtual research university "is spreading horizontally and quite literally beneath (in the cable) the hoary brick and stone of the ancient academy." (Crump 1996.) Or would it be more correct to say that mega-research styles and institutions are emerging in wireless cyberspace `over and above' existing universities. The next six chapters look at some new tools which can be combined for empowering mega-research, first asking: how can we deal with a seemingly impossible knowledge explosion? One word of caution comes from New Science journal, February 2007 where we are reminded that `low  tech' from previous generations still plays dominant roles in present and future research..

Return to Volume II Preface  |  Go to Chapter 2.2

Bibliographical Notes

See http://www.global knowledge.org sessions on  Scientific Knowledge (panel from UNESCO Science Advisory Board), and Global Cooperation for Knowledge Dissemination and Building international Research networks for Global Cooperation.

Albright, Madeline. 2004. "The Mighty and the Almighty." Reflections, fall.

Bailey, J. 1996. After Thought. The Computer Challenge to Human Intelligence. NY: Basic Books.

Cleveland, Harlan. 1993  Birth of a Free World, San Francisco. Jossey-Bass.

Brainard, Jeffrey. 2002. "U. S, Agencies Look to Interdisciplinary Science." Chronicle of Higher Education, June 14.

Carnevale, Dan. 2002. "Worldwide Network Promotes Online Collaboration." Chronicle of Higher Education,  June 28.

Crump, Eric et al. 1996. "Creating A Virtual Academic Community". Unpublished, Univ. of Missouri

Daley, Elizabeth. 2003. "Expanding the Concept of Literacy. Educause Review, Ma./Apr.

Gibbons, Michael et al. 1994. The New Production of Knowledge. London: Thousand Oaks.

Hunt, Morton. 1997. How Science Takes Stock. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. .

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Killman, R. 1989. "Tomorrow's Company." New York Times, June 18.

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Mayor, F.  1997 "From Idea to Action." UNESCO Courier. June.

Monastersky, Richard. 2005. "A Day in the Life: Subatomically Speaking." Chronicle of Higher Education, July 1;and "Scientific Misbehavior is Rampant," July 17.

Muller, Robert. 1982. New Genesis. Garden City NY: Doubleday.

Negroponte, Nicholas. 2003. "Creating a Culture of Ideas." Technology Review, Feb.

.Pelikan, Jaroslav. 1992. The Idea of the University. Yale Univ. Press.

 Rischard, Jean-Francois. 2002. High Noon. New York: Basic Books.

Robertson, D. S..2003. Phase Change: The Computer Revolution in Science and Mathematics. New York: Oxford University Press.. 

Scully, Malcolm. 2002. "A Network of Global Solutions. Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept. 13

Sinnott, Jan and Lynn Johnon.1996. Reinventing the University. Norwood NJ: Ablex.

Smarr, Larry. 2003. In Daigle's "Add Another Zero: An Interview with Larry Smarr." Educause. Nov./Dec.

Webb, James. 1959. Space-Age Management. New York: McGraw Hill.

 Wiley, David. 2006. "Open Sources...." Innovate online journal, Oct./Nov. and other articles in that issue.

Wulf, W. A. 2003. "Higher Education Alert: The Information Railroad is Coming." Educause, Jan./Feb.

Young, J. R. 2004. "Does E-Science Work?" The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 10.

Young, J. R. 2005. "Open Courseware Idea Spreads." The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 4.

The Future of Higher (Lifelong) Education: For All Worldwide: A Holistic View
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July 12, 2006 -- Copyright © 2002-2005 Parker Rossman