The possibility to do science is not within everybody’s grasp, the possibility to raise questions is.
The new way of science
The nature of science is changing : Its focus is shifting from parts and pieces to coherent wholes. This new way of science befits the grand challenges that confront humanity and that are characterized by problems of enormous complexity and seemingly impenetrable webs of cause and effect. The umbrella name for this new way of science is complexity science.
Science, including complexity science, is about defining a problem and finding a way to solve it using the methods of science. Consequently the impact of science is not determined by the methods it uses, but by the questions it uses those methods on.
Scientific questions distinguish themselves from all other questions in that they can be addressed by the methods of science, while the other questions cannot. Or cannot yet because the scientific methods to address them still need to be developed. In fact the questions that can be addressed by scientific methods are only a small subset of the questions that are generated every day in the minds of the billions of people that inhabit our earth.
Science and its impact
Our present world has been strongly influenced by the scientific knowledge that was generated in the last 300 years of mostly disciplinary science. The technology that coevolved with that science generated game changers for our world like vaccinations, antibiotics, cars, television, pesticides, nuclear energy, plastics, computers, mobile communication and Internet. That science gave us very little insights in the impact of those technologies on our world or in underlying principles that govern interactions between human natural, social and human engineered systems.
Looking at it that way it is remarkable how much science has achieved for the wellbeing of humanity and how much promise it holds for much more to come. If the impact of the answer to a scientific question is a measure for its “rightness” one conclusion must be that science dealt with the right questions.
At the same time many of the grand challenges that humanity faces are born out of applications of answers to those scientific questions. So the conclusion must also be that in the pursuit of the twin objectives of training the younger generation and responding to societal priorities, science left some fundamental questions inadequately addressed, and many others unasked. That may be because some of the most fertile questions lie in the gray areas between existing disciplines. It may also be that scientific questions are largely defined within the isolation of laboratories, while its answers are applied in a world were real life considerations and the immense complexity of total connectivity determine the course of events.
Whatever the composite of reasons may be, it is our vision that the arena within which problems relevant to humanity are defined must be widened to include world-class philosophers, artists, policy makers and (wo)men of practice.
Organize and execute explorations in complexity with world-class scientists, philosophers, artists, policy makers and (wo)men of practice, with the purpose to find new concepts and approaches to deal with the complexity of our world.