Can Universities Save Us From Disaster?

On the Horizon 52 (2):115-130 (2017)
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We face grave global problems. One might think universities are doing all they can to help solve these problems. But universities, in successfully pursuing scientific knowledge and technological know-how in a way that is dissociated from a more fundamental concern with problems of living, have actually made possible the genesis of all our current global problems. Modern science and technology have led to modern industry and agriculture, modern medicine and hygiene, modern armaments, which in turn have led to much that is good, but also to habitat destruction, extinction of species, population growth, the lethal character of modern war, and the impending disasters of climate change. We urgently need to bring about a revolution in universities so that they put problems of living at the heart of the academic enterprise and take, as their basic task, to help humanity learn how to make progress towards as good a world as possible.

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Nicholas Maxwell
University College London


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