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For All Worldwide, A Holistic View

(All chapters are intended for continuing revision)

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Volume II - Preface

(Last updated Mar. 7, 2008)


We have it within ourselves to abolish hunger, to bring health to all. . . yet, by our actions we are making people afraid of. . . science. -- Elizabeth Dowdeswell

The MIT Digital Nations consortium does not aim to impose solutions but rather to empower people in all walks of life to invent their own tools and solutions (and) supports a broad range of on-the-ground `action projects' that enable people to design, create and learn in new ways. --Alexandra Kahn.

If ever a species needed a survival plan, it will be homo sapiens in the twenty-first century. -- Joseph Pelton  

..the best science is interdisciplinary and serendipitous...(as at MIT) in the great challenge of understanding human intelligence. - Spencer Reiss.

Access to the accumulated knowledge of our civilization through digital libraries and networks, (and from) massive repositories of scientific data from remote instruments such as astronomical observatories or high energy physics accelerators, is changing the nature of scholarship and collaboration in very fundamental ways. --Duderstadt 2005

(Often one Problem in research is the effort to treat each global problem like energy apart from other crucial issues that are inter-related.)

We have already seen significant global collaboration in the areas of climate
 change, radio astronomy and meteorology, bringing together the best minds
 around the world to tackle the global challenges that we are facing
. Together
 with Europe's partners, we are aiming to make global scientific collaboration
 seamless and straightforward and abolish distance as a barrier to working
 together --Viviane Reading, European Union Commissioner on Inf. and Media

Volume II seeks to begin a larger and more holistic approach to problem-centered research for learning and teaching in the effort to provide essential lifelong education for everyone in the world. The context for this will be "to apply cyberstructure to the transforming of scientific research." (Freeman et al, 2005}  When we speak here of `thinking big,' of big research, some of the largest involve big change from the `bottom up.' O'Brien (2005) describes e-research as "large-scale, distributed, collaborative science enabled by the Internet and related technologies." In the USA, she reports from Australia, the term  cyberinfrastructure is used for "the computing and networking...that enables research environments such as the colaboratory, co-laboratory, grid/community network, virtual science community and e-science community." The grid is a collection of computing resources that appears to users as one virtual system.

So instead of dealing with each of humanity's  problem alone,  soon there will be tools to deal with crises concurrently, not one at a time nor in bits and pieces. This is a time to THINK BIG.  On the `scientific mind' see <http://www.learndev.org/SciMind.html> In this volume we discuss research possibilities in ten global problems that are barriers to education for ald to human efforts to create a more beautiful planet and beautiful  human society for all. Also the findings on crises must be central to a lifelong curriculum, never neglecting sharing of the most helpful findings with those who can provide food, health care, and job training. Gibbs (2003) urges more attention to longer range priorities. Windhausen (2008) sees advanced Internet applications having the potential to transform research.

Peter Schwartz, chair of the Global Business Network (in  Cooper 2002) urged research that sees the world as complex, holistic and indeterminate, rejecting the approach that is mechanistic and reductionism, that assumes that only better data and models are needed. So we ask, what and how can seriously address the global problems of hunger, terrorism and war, epidemics and the environment? Daniel Yankelovich (2003) worried about the public's scientific illiteracy and the way vast scientific progress seems to make little impact on social and political leadership. Research is needed to seek a grand vision for the 21st century that can challenge all politicians. See, for example, Fukuda-Parr (2003). Lightman of MIT (2003) said that human society is at the portal of "something very new, very big" and so far only dimly seen. A chart on webs:<http://novaspivack.typepad.com/nova_spivacks_weblog/metaweb_graph.GIF>.


Here chapter ten looks again at the visionary proposals of Rischard (2002) for solving twenty major human crises by 2020, seeking to apply them to lifelong learning and needed transformations in education.  Because of technological and economic revolutions (the networking economy), he says, there can and must now be "new shapes to human institutions and new approaches to global problem-solving." He recommends Blown To Bits (Evans1999) for seeing "how things must be done differently from now on." The new world of education will be "bent on speed;' will  flow across national boundaries; be one in which there must be constant, lifelong learning; and hyper competitiveness.

The rate of inevitable change, he says, "contrasts starkly with the slow evolution of human institutions." Humanity cannot much longer endure a situation in which "one in six adults cannot read or write,' in which 900 million people, 90% in the developing world, are illiterate and where "the quality of primary, secondary and university education is rarely up to the standards  required in the new world economy that is knowledge-intensive and demanding of creativity. We lack "a badly needed system of international accreditation, not for degrees but for competency, skills and vision.

Education, he says, "is central to the construction of genuinely democratic societies." Also the present situation is immoral because education--the power to reflect, make choices and steer towards a better life--and "is a kind of human right." Education is the key, he insists, for the construction of the "sense of global citizenship" that global problem-solving and action to meet crises is going to require. Education is a tool for developing essential global values "that may help spare the next generations unnecessary, obsolete tensions between civilizations." And, most important, education is essentially the "most powerful instrument for the reduction of poverty and inequality" as well as for good health, population stabilization, good honest government and care for the environment. 

The essential new global learning structure requires a partnership between academia, government, international agencies, business and especially NGOs (non-government organizations and activists) that already are leading the way and that have "repositories of specialized knowledge" and a central role in global problem-solving. Most important Rischard says, however, is to move away  from hierarchical top-down institutional forms inherited from the industrial age to "nimbler forms of organization" that are flatter, faster and more network-like." Here in  volume three we will seek to apply the networking that Rischard proposes to our call for a global planning for lifelong learning system


Since humanity can now do astonishing things that were never before possible, such as the Human Genome Project and exploring the universe, we tend to overlook how little humanity and our leading experts really know. Those team projects are possible largely because of the convergence of global-scale technologies reported in the first chapters here. So in that context we will look at some of intractable crises to see how the convergence of these tools may enable essential research for coping with hunger, disease, poverty, the environment, crime, terrorism and more. It is the task of higher lifelong education "to generate new knowledge and develop new ways in which knowledge can be used for the benefit of Humanity.? (Maliyamkono 1994). On `Soul Beat Africa' see: <http://www.comminit.com/africa/search.html>.

Humanity's motivation to design new institutions in cyberspace for the emerging space-age global society may come as new and converging technologies even more drastically shake up the institutions left over from the agricultural and industrial ages, as in learning and education. Better  told stories of successful projects and possibilities may help motivate the p ublic to act.

Motivation for what is discussed in this volume may also come from the angry turbulence of our planet and in some schools from crises, present and future, that threaten to destroy our planet and civilization and from protesters and terrorists that arise because of crises. Even now, we cannot be content with institutional structures that permit ethnic cleansing, that allow hundreds of millions of children to be unnecessarily hungry, sick and exploited as abused child soldiers, that allow the heads of nations to rob their people of billions that should be used for schools and hospitals. We cannot let our current market-oriented institutions--many still medieval rather than truly democratic and local-people-oriented  and inadequately researched--fester until all of our children are endangered. How can we better cope with terrorists and with their allies in organized crime that infiltrate the secret corridors of business corporations, government, police, the media and entertainment? That will likely require larger-scale databases, simulations and research


Educators and researchers  must learn how to manage the knowledge explosion and the glut of technologies and experiment with ways to bring all existing knowledge together as a step to ending humanity's ignorance. An idea which begins in one mind is expanded and enlarged into a truly great idea and project through the interplay of many minds. Then it requires even more minds--in cooperation with technologies--to bring it to completion (Corey 1997). Research on crises, computer simulationist John McLeod reminded us, will require better understanding of how social systems will react to proposed changes. Computer modeling and simulation can often be the best tools for that. Simulationists can now develop global models as one component of larger research systems and strategies for coping with people who are angry about planetary social systems and a planet which seems to be angry itself.

Following up on what he had said about a great age of research, Chancellor Clark Kerr (Kerr 1992) listed some crucial research areas. They included the implications of the information revolution, ecology, the global economy, the population explosion, war, religion, the economies of developing nations. For this book we expand that list, drawing upon issues defined by United Nations agencies (see Rischard 2002) and especially by UNESCO; and those by the United Nations University millennium project. It (Glenn 1998) has called for enquiry into new ideas, pointing out that imagination and creativity are becoming more important than knowledge. Integrative thought, reflective practice and the `art of getting it all together' are called for (Cleveland 1998). Pelton (1996) then at the International Space University--writing on how to transform higher education--called for more multidisciplinary research; and Anderson (1996) discussed "a new working environment for science as a whole." Clark (1995) expressed concern that research has drifted away from teaching departments of universities, often because of declining initiative and research projects by industry and government.

This Volume Two is offered as a step toward a draft overview of mega-research possibilities for and within education; i.e., the bringing together of many technologies, disciplines, sciences, institutions and team-research to make much more significant research possible as part of a global lifelong learning system.. What will be the shape of research institutions in virtual/cyberspace where many larger projects may be centered? Where are the blueprints for the new and larger research strategies and structures that must be built there? Will research there find better ways to cope with humanity's most serious crises? We cannot anticipate final solutions. However, we live at the dawning of an era when research, using powerful new combinations of technology, can help global-scale teams of scholars begin to bring fragmented knowledge together so that needed maps and blueprints for larger research can be created. On standards, see <http://www.imsproject.org/> .

An individual researcher usually can select just one small part of needed research, and ought tobromg ot into a system that relates that bit of research with all the other bits of research that are relevant; a cross-indexing and coordination that is now possible with the Internet

As never before in history we can see where humanity is and begin to create maps for where researchers need to go. Orbiting space ships and telescopes make it possible for us to see and understand our planet from outer space. Now new technologies can provide the equivalent social telescopes, powerful new instruments for better understanding educational institutions and basic human needs also. However, astronauts do not rush into outer space without years of preparation of space platforms and safe management systems. We have not been so scientific in designing social systems. Political ideologies and revolution have been tried, sometimes to be `scientific.' Most revolutionaries, however, have seized power without knowing for sure what to do and what the consequences would be.

Humanity is on the verge now of having computer-empowered mega-tools that can be used to create blueprints and models--to explore possibilities-- before humanity starts to build new learning and research institutions in cyberspace. As architects build models of a skyscraper, or even sometimes of a whole city--to plan it carefully and anticipate all problems--so now CAD (Computer Assisted Design) can be carefully and scientifically used in designing social institutions also. Before remodeling or totally redesigning our current justice system, or business corporations, or lifelong education system, we can use computer simulations to examine possible consequences and costs, to design entirely new systems before spending a dime on really constructing them. Perhaps researchers should now begin the process--even if it takes a century--of exploring potential new designs for the management of our entire human social system in cyberspace. Researchers will in this century have the tools to do that.

Mega-research? The term is ambiguous. It can refer to `big science projects' like the space program or to the linking and coordination of many piecemeal research projects undertaken by individuals or teams scattered worldwide. It can refer to planned transdisciplinary projects in which government, industry and many universities cooperate. We will later report a UNESCO definition. (2.6.1) This volume, however, seek to clarify the term with illustrations. Who is to do `research on research,' which includes the designing blueprints and models for the architecture of new and larger research structures in cyberspace? <http://www.nas.edu/ssb/btfmenu.htm

Transdisciplinary? Reporting on the first World Conference on Transdisciplinarity, sponsored by UNESCO in 1994, Tony Judge of the Union of International Associations <http://www.uia.org> understood the word to mean `beyond interdisciplinary.' It is an important concept for scholars who must cope with complexity, such as physicists who are "faced with the constraints and limitations of their methodology." Some participants were concerned with the theoretical integration of disciplines, others with integrative experience. It was clear at the conference, he said, that the fragmentation of the disciplines was failing to serve society in the context of complex global problems. Judge used the metaphor of a choir to ask what it might be like if the various disciplines sang together in harmony. Perhaps, he said, complexity will be understood through "the insightful representation of the arts." A network of urban researchers also uses the term pleuridisciplinary. Wilson (1998) used the term consilience as he spokes of the urgency of bringing science, arts and the humanities into new collaboration. For a helpful essay on the decline of disciplines and obstacles to change see: <http://wwics.si.edu/OUTREACH/WQ/WQSELECT/MENAND.HTM> in the fall 2001 Wilson Quarterly.

A `Global lifelong education system' perhaps now emerging in cyberspace is the logical locus for creating the maps, the blueprints, the models, the testing of models and experimentation with various combinations of technology for research on social and crisis issues, and how to mobilize humanity now for lifelong education for all.

Chapter One here in Volume Two proposes for discussion an institutional structure for global-scale research. Essays from Daedalus (Cole 1994), writing about the research in a time of discontent, discussed the internationalization of research institutions and the mismatch between their research and social problems. A high priority now, therefore, should be given action/research; that is, how better to get things done!

Chapter Two reports on a workshop on the almost unmanageable explosion of scientific knowledge. Data must be organized so that it can be available when and where it is needed. Planetary knowledge mobilization underway in the cross-indexing of digital data bases and in hyperlinks on the World Wide Web that can be used to jump instantly to sources and related material from other disciplines. Shenk (1997) has discussed the information glut's overload that is causing "stress, confusion and even ignorance." Too much information is leading to "paralysis by analysis." This causes some scholars to say, with reason--McLeod points out--that to try to put all information in a model is the only way to find what fits, what is pertinent and what is missing. H. G. Wells over fifty years ago pointed to the wasteful duplication that results from a lack of coordination in research. What Wells proposed for data management may then have seemed like an unrealistic dream. Now we see it beginning to happen, although only first steps are taken toward what must be done in the next thirty years.

Chapter Three discusses a similarly unmanaged glut of the technologies which could and should make a great contribution to higher education and research. We provide--by necessity--only a sketchy introduction to the issue of research technology convergence. In various combinations the new technologies can be used for global-scale map-making, design, simulation, creating the architecture for remodeling or redesigning what larger-scale research requires. Paul Kennedy (1993) said that the greatest test facing humanity is how to use the power of technology to find effective ways to free billions of people from starvation and other crises. To ward off criticism that "what you propose is not possible with existing technology," we here ask how to plan how, in coming decades, to use future technologies on the scale of orbiting space satellites for dealing with the human social universe. This book, not by or for technologists, questions the extent to which technology drives what happens rather than being shaped to do what humanity now most needs.

Chapter Four discusses the research potential of computer networking, the World Wide Web and whatever its successors may be, for `collective intelligence' (CI), the bringing of many minds from many countries together in cyberspace for creative thinking and collective imaginative. Ornstein (1990) worried that the human mental system is failing to understand our complex technological society. How can scattered efforts be brought together to produce a rapid change of mind; perhaps even the equivalent, in our human social universe, of the unified theory of everything that cosmologists seek in understanding the physical universe? The potential of networking for Collective Intelligence is illustrated by the conferencing that proceeded, facilitated and afterwards continued discussion on whether global poverty (2.12.1) might best be overcome by providing distance education to everyone in the world, (2.17.1) examining that process to see what might be learned.

Chapter Five discusses research with large-scale computer modeling, simulations and gaming to examine alternatives for planetary management without risk. Wildberger (1997) reported that computers, used for networking and simulations, now have the capacity "to activate the world." For instance, The Society for Computer Simulation International's Mission Earth activity has focused on simulation as a tool "for use in monitoring a sustainable future for the planet."

Chapter Six is about global co-laboratories in which scientists and scholars work on research that no one team can do alone. Shaping adventurous science around problems such as environmental issues requires an extended peer community. For example, meteorologist Yoshi Sasaki (Culpepper 1993) began nearly two decades ago to envisage an international consortium of universities, private businesses and government, dedicated to alleviate the loss of life and property from natural disasters such as hurricanes, typhoons and earthquakes. He anticipated a global multidisciplinary research "natural disaster consortium," related to the mega-research global weather system. He also proposed a spin-off, "a natural disaster industry" which would include telecommunications, insurance, construction, utilities and the manufacture of monitoring devices for communities and families.

Chapter Seven proposes a co-lab game to illustrate grand designs for meeting one of humanity's most crucial needs, how to move beyond violence in solving disputes. It describes some possibilities for peace gaming on the scale of Pentagon war games in a  quest for better ways to deal with terrorism, a new form of warfare in the 21st century where nuclear weapons and missiles are no help. It is intended as a reminder that playing games, as business leaders often do, can be a creative way to explore new ideas, concepts, theories, institutional changes and more. Renner (1993) reminded us that "if you want peace, prepare for peace."


Beginning with Chapter Eight, we look at some mega-research possibilities that seek to deal specific crises that impinge on education.. The "Millennium Project' of the American Council for the United Nations University has been "designed to provide a global capacity for early warning and analysis of crises. In 2001 the project's panel of experts, with financial or other assistance from foundations, corporations, universities, the Smithsonian Institution and the Russian government, proposed some of the blueprints we are examining here. Hardly anyone realizes how many global-scale projects are in a developmental phase. Tens of thousands of scholars and scientists, scattered all over the world, are at work on bits and pieces of what can add up to some astonishing results.

Chapters Eight to Thirteen ask questions about possible research on planetary strategies to deal with world hunger, health and ecology. Researchers working in several of those areas, after reading a chapter here, point out that there is a sense in which their own discipline is disappearing. Everyone in my field," one distinguished scholar said, "is pushing a different theory, everyone is working with a different set of data. There is little talking with other researchers in our own field--much less in other disciplines--and we seem to know more and more about less and less. Perhaps we need to know more about chaos theory!" Another also said "we are swamped by complexity and seem lost in a swamp of chaotic uncertainty." How can we deal with "conflict and ethnic strife when `we are it?"

Chapters Fourteen and Sixteen ask if there should be mega-research on how humanity might better empower moral and ethical actions. Letting children suffer unnecessarily from hunger and diseases is a global-scale moral problem. As in many of these chapters, the research need often is not what to do, but how to get it done politically, how also to get public support for essential research and action as in ecology. Could larger-scale research find better ways to motivate political leaders and make them more compassionate, honest and responsible? And the public?

Chapter Fifteen is on research to discover new structures of governance that can enable planetary management without endangering personal freedom and rights; that instead of authoritarian world government, for example, might electronically link local governments and organizations (UNESCO 1995). Chapter Thirteen asks for research on a planetary human society system that could deal more effectively with political corruption and with criminal syndicates that are dominating large shares of the economy (Yergin 1998) in many countries.

Chapter Seventeen examines some ideas for mega-research for better lifelong education, including its place n the reconstruction of local communities. It begins where The Emerging Worldwide Electronic University ended. Like that book, which suggested that the virtual university consists of all of such international education and joint research, this online project is, in a sense, an introduction to literature and web links.. As a research librarian might do, we seek to pull together ideas and questions from many scattered sources. We are not recommending sources. We are exploring them in search of research ideas and important questions that arise from and are posed for larger-scale research. That `electronic worldwide university' was defined as including colleges and universities, military and government agencies, business corporations and by cable TV and other commercial telecommunications operators. Is this unstructured process the way to bring education to everyone in the world?

UNESCO (1995), and at the 1998 conference on the future of education, has insisted on international cooperation, based on partnership "and the collective search for quality and relevance." A dangerous research gap is causing developing nations to fall far behind. Many scientists cannot, for example, afford scholarly journals that are essential if they are to keep up with their own fields of research. Attention now be given to the development of research goals, priorities, values, and philosophy that can create an international research community that adequately incorporates the developing world. Academic freedom must be maintained in the balance between government, academia, volunteer and private educational organizations and business corporations, so that no one commercial or bureaucratic forces will dominate. This requires replacing cumbersome, bureaucratic institutions, such as government monopolies, with flexible networks. Chapter Seventeen--perhaps still too visionary with present technology--discusses a mega-co-lab for better maps, design, modeling of institutions in cyberspace for the transformation of developing nations.

The last two chapters in Volume Two here propose that research adequate for major human crises that impinge on education must be practical and specific. Chapter Eighteen  expands and illustrates with some aspects of design for research which focuses on a developing-world rural village and urban neighborhood. This kind of research, however, (Drum Beat 2005) is "rarely published in peer-reviewed journals and as a result does not gain recognition from other parts of the research community, or from those who judge the quality of research."

Most researchers are more modest in their expectations. Yet, as banking, entertainment and politics are being transformed by information technology, something remarkable may also be happening in research. It may be three decades before we know what new shapes of research will emerge but whether we wish it or not, the blueprints for what is to be built in cyberspace are being drawn now, whether they are properly researched and designed or not. Perhaps in another century all learners will be related to a large research team, and a much higher percentage of citizens will be involved in research. Dede (2008)  suggests that the term `Web2' represents a shift from the presentation of material on the web to an active co-construction of resources by communities of contributors.

A major difficulty in this online book is how to write for those who have been too busy to keep up with the literature in every field of learning (all of us). Another problem is posed by the research needs of scholars in developing countries whose involvement is crucial for dealing with global and local crises. We cannot hope to please the experts in any field discussed here. Yet each expert is a novice in many fields other that her/his own. So these brief chapters intend only to ask questions about possible future research and to provoke discussion. We begin with the assumption that the planet's most crucial crises are all inter-related and can best be coped with by research to deal with all of them together. Let's also begin by assuming that Rischard (2002) is right about the urgency and the emerging possibilities. (3.10) Can we THIN BIG?

          "The Internet revolution enables people to spawn great ideas.' -- Yoshio Tondo

Return to Chapter 1.10 | Go to Chapter 2.1

Bibliographical Notes

On Wolfram: <http://www.wolframscience.com/summary/>  

Cole Jonathan. 1994. The Research University in a Time of Discontent. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Cooper et al., eds. 2002. What the Future Holds: Insight from Social Science. Cambridge: MIT Press

Corey, E. R. 1997. Technology Fountainheads. Harvard Business School Press.

Culpepper, J. 1993. "Sooner Spotlight." Sooner magazine, Summer.

Dede, Chris. 2008. "A Seismic Shift in Epistemology. Educause, May/June.

Duderstadt, James et al. 2005. "Envisioning a Transformed University." Issues in Science and Technology, fall

Drum Beat. 2005. "Research as Empowerment," Online Issue 330,  Dec. 19.<http://www.comminit.com/strategicthinking.html>

Evans, Philip and T.S. Wurster. 1999. Blown to Bits. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Freeman, Peter et al, 2005. "Campus Cybenfrastructure: A Crucial Enabler for Science." Educause, Jan./Feb.

Fukuda-Parr, S. (ed.)  2003. Human Development Report. New York: Oxford Univ. Press

Gibbs, W. Wayt. 2005. "How Should We Set Priorities." Scientific American, September.

Glenn, J.1989. Future Mind. Washington DC: Acropolis Books.

Kennedy, Paul. 1993. Preparing for the 21st Century. New York: Random House.

Kerr, Clark. 1992. The Uses of the University. Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press.

Lightman, Alan et al. 2003. Living With the Genie. Washington: Island Press.

Maliyamkono, T. L. 1994. "Higher Education in Africa." in T. Husen (ed.) The Role of the University: A Global Perspective. Tokyo: The United Nations University..Menand, Louis. 2001. "Unidisciplined." Wilson Quarterly. Autumn.

O''Brien, Linda. 2995. "The Imperative for Strengthening Institutional Partnerships." Educause, November/December.

Pelton, J. N. "Cyberlearning vs. the University." Futurist, Nov./Dec.

Renner, Michael. 1993. Critical Juncture. Washington DC Worldwatch Institute.

Rossman, Parker. 1993. The Emerging Worldwide Electronic University. Westport, CT: Praeger

Shenk, David. 1997. Data Smog. San Francisco: Harper.

UNESCO. 1995. "Policy Paper for Change and Development in Higher Education." Paris:

Wildberger, A. M. 1997. "AI and Simulation." Simulation magazine, July.

Windhausen, John, 2008. "Big Broadband Connectivity...: Educause, May/June.

Yankelovich. D. 2003. "Winning Greater Influence for Science." Issues in Science and Technology, summer, from review in Future Survey, Jan. 2004.


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