the challenges before us
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Arizona State University is a New American University, designed to address the greatest challenges before us. They are local challenges — and they are global. They involve educational success, individual and community opportunity, the environment and our health, scientific and technological progress, social justice and human worth.
ASU teaching and research have purpose and impact, changing the way we see the world and solve complex problems. We encourage collaboration with public and private partners and empower our students to think big, dream and achieve. We pursue creative and scientific solutions, ask foundational questions, welcome risk and innovation.
Assuming a fundamental responsibility for the economic, social and cultural well-being of the community, ASU provides the knowledge, discovery and creativity to help solve the challenges we face and build a better future.
Education is our single most effective strategy to ensure that the workforce of tomorrow is skilled, entrepreneurial, innovative, confident and prepared to succeed in 21st-century jobs. Yet high school graduation rates have stalled at 70 percent. Many students who attend college find themselves unprepared for college-level work, and more than 40 percent never complete their degrees.
We need to re-engineer our education system to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready to succeed. We must give qualified students access to quality instruction and design new teaching tools and techniques.
Teachers must have what they need to excel; and we need to teach students critical thinking, cultivate global perspectives, and promote education as a civic right and duty if Arizona and the nation are to keep pace.
The pace of discovery in science, computing and emerging technologies is accelerating. There is enormous potential for progress in everything from medical diagnosis to urban infrastructure, the global environment and American manufacturing.
To be competitive in the nation and world, we must increase the number of engineers and computer scientists trained in Arizona, which currently ranks 21st in the nation for recent degrees in science and engineering. We must design the tools they’ll need to further scientific progress.
Innovation can be pioneered in higher education and touch virtually every aspect of information technology, including new electronic components, high-performance computing, information assurance, flexible displays and advanced manufacturing.
There are now more than 6 billion of us on Earth. We represent a broad spectrum of traditions and beliefs, languages and cultures, ethnicities and histories, political systems and economics. We are all human — and we are diverse. Even local communities are becoming more multicultural and multiethnic as communication, technology and migration shrink our world toward a “global nation.”
We can explore the idea and the development of human communities to help us shape our future together. We need to support and encourage both individual and governmental responsibility. We must identify and promote the concepts and circumstances that bring and keep people together.
We can appreciate our differences as we work toward common goals. In the words of Winston Churchill, “If we are together nothing is impossible.”
A sustainable way of life now and for future generations is within our reach — if we begin today. We must identify the causes of our current environmental and social challenges.
We must understand how cultures and traditions impact behavior locally and around the world. And, we must craft social policies and scientific initiatives that address short- and long-term issues. Because by 2030, the world will consume 50 percent more energy than it does today.
On a solid foundation of research and freely shared knowledge, we can create socially, economically and ecologically responsive cities. We can adapt to climate change — and understand and preserve biodiversity. We can explain the human consequences of unsustainable practices and encourage the individual practices necessary for a sustainable way of life.
To feel stable and secure is a deep human need. To have the means to provide for our own needs and those of our loved ones. To leave a legacy that contributes to the well-being of our family, community and world.
Yet nearly half of humankind, more than 3 billion people, lives on less than $2.50 a day. Of 2.2 billion children on the planet, 1 billion — every second child — live in poverty.
If global change begins at home, then we must build strong, stable economic foundations in our own community and state. We must unleash the potential of entrepreneurship, forge enterprising partnerships, empower the poor, establish new economic values and increase corporate accountability. We can lead the change — and be the catalyst — the nation and world need now.
Health and wellness today depend heavily on advances in science, technology and policy. But life is also an art that follows physical and mental paths to well-being and fulfillment. It is created, revised and perfected along the way. As John W. Gardner, a former U.S. secretary of health, education and welfare, once said, “Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.”
Challenges related to health and well-being include reversing the spread of obesity and improving health disparities. They also encompass encouraging creative expression and inspiring a sense of wonder about life.
In this multi-faceted approach, furthering mental wellness carries as much importance as innovating health care and medical technology. Because a challenge as diverse and individual as this demands imaginative solutions that cross boundaries and are far-reaching.
To chart our own course. To realize our unique potential. To be secure in our private lives. In Western countries, tradition and law largely protect and preserve our individual rights. We can expect equal treatment from our judicial systems.
Yet this is not true for millions living throughout the world. Individuals are denied free speech, the ability or right to make basic decisions about their personal destinies, even refuge from violence. Many victims are women, children and minorities.
If global change begins at home, then we need to understand the causes of injustice. We need to find ways to share our values while respecting others. And, we must create definitions of concepts like “a free press,” “tolerance” and “equality” that people the world over can understand and embrace.
The public university is uniquely equipped to answer the most fundamental questions we can ask, questions of who we are and where we are going. They require collaboration and broad inquiry.
University scientists can take us back to the very beginnings of time and space. They can help us grasp the ground rules of the universe, how time and circumstance have shaped our earth.
Scholars and researchers recover the development of our art, languages, societies and cultures — and find the dawn of human consciousness. They can locate the sources of our emotions and our conflicts with one another, and help us learn what it means to be human. In the timeless words of Lao Tzu, “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.”