“In the end the best way to predict the future is to create it." – Gregory Benford
NC State’s Long View Project seeks to anticipate the intermediate and far future. Envisioning these possible futures can inform how people plan and make decisions, in their personal lives and as researchers, policymakers, and leaders. The Long View Project is focused on envisioning the future by building on the interdisciplinary expertise of the world’s best scholars.1
We recognize that the current practices and plans of individuals, businesses, governments and universities alike don’t adequately anticipate the future and, as a result, are not sufficiently prepared for the changes to come. Yet, many choices we make in society have consequences that last for centuries.
Humanity notoriously fails to consider the intermediate and far future for many reasons. It is difficult for leaders, administrators and scholars — astrophysicists and paleontologists notwithstanding — to take the long view in planning for the future. Quarterly reports, urgent challenges, and, for scholars, the realities of immediate concerns tend to demand so much time that it is difficult to make time for truly long-term planning. Yet, our daily decisions are what ultimately shape these seemingly remote futures.
This reality applies not only to issues like infrastructure2, but also to less obvious areas, such as education. Students graduating from universities today will be hitting their mid-career stride around the year 2050. By 2050, their world will be one in which energy systems, communication, ecological realities, climate and societal context are far different than they are today. As scholars and educators, if our research is to be useful, our public engagement relevant and our students successful, we must do all we can to try to anticipate the future. By doing this, we not only prepare for what is to come, but may also alter our trajectory, steering our collective ship away from tempests and toward calmer waters.
Over the next few years, the Long View Project will interview leading scholars, work in classrooms, and collaborate with artists to help us consider possible intermediate and far futures. This website will include a resource hub, making the outputs of these efforts accessible. These outputs will take many forms, such as a video archive of full interviews designed to be used by scholars, edited clips for news articles and social media, and white papers for decision-makers in academia and government. It will also include a calendar of project-related events and other resources as they become available.
This project is made possible by funding from the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science (KIETS), the Genetics and Genomics Academy (GGA), the NC State University Libraries, the Comparative Medicine Institute (CMI), and other partners.
The implementation of this project is guided by Rob Dunn (Senior Vice Provost for University Interdisciplinary Programs), Karen Ciccone (Lead Librarian for Public Science), LaTissa Davis (Assistant to the Senior Vice Provost for Instructional Programs), Adrian Day (Vice Provost for Business Operations and Strategic Resource Management), Marian Fragola (Director, Community Engagement, NC State University Libraries), Michelle Jewell (Chief Science Communicator, Applied Ecology), Patti Mulligan (Communications Director, Genetic Engineering and Society Center), Lauren Nichols (Research Technician and Lab Manager, Applied Ecology), Greg Raschke (Senior Vice Provost and Director of Libraries), Matt Shipman (Research Communications Lead, University Communications), and Megan Skrip (Science Communicator, Center for Geospatial Analytics).
Banner photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash