Wellesley Joins Other Boston Area Colleges In Summit
on Transforming Education to Meet Critical Global Challenges
Conference Will Highlight Outstanding Student Contributions
to Solving World Problems
Mass.— The world faces daunting problems, from energy needs to medical research to clean water and more. Without a doubt, the answers lie in the ability of our educational system to rise to these challenges. With that goal, Babson College, Olin College of Engineering and Wellesley College will co-sponsor an interdisciplinary regional summit, “Educational Imperatives of the Grand Challenges,” Wednesday, April 21, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm in Houghton Chapel at Wellesley College (http://grandchallengesummit.olin.edu).
The summit will bring together educators, business leaders, scientists, engineers, students, government officials and policy makers to discuss the changes necessary at all levels in the educational system to prepare students with the skills and perspectives necessary to tackle global problems in energy, health, the environment and other critical areas.
The meeting is part of a national series being held in various regions of the country this spring and fall (http://www.grandchallengesummit.org) focusing on “Grand Challenges,” 14 critical global problems identified by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) that must be solved to maintain national security, improve global living standards and ensure a sustainable future (http://www.engineeringchallenges.org).
Speakers include Thomas Kalil, deputy director for policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and senior advisor for Science, Technology and Innovation for the National Economic Council, Harvard Business School “disruptive innovation” expert Clayton Christensen, Stanford economics professor and Charter Cities advocate Paul Romer, MIT appropriate technology proponent Amy Smith and Sharon Nunes of IBM’s Systems and Technology Group. Award-winning NPR Correspondent Linda Wertheimer, a Wellesley College alumna, will moderate.
“Modern complex problems require complex solutions, and a broader education makes those solutions possible,” said Wellesley College President H. Kim Bottomly. “Insights occur when knowledge is integrated across the disciplines to approach global issues in a new way. To gain acceptance of new innovation you must understand human behavior. To develop the most appropriate innovations you must understand their social, psychological, political and economic ramifications. Engineering, business leadership and the liberal arts are a natural and powerful partnership for our times.”
“While technology will play a key role in confronting each of the grand challenges, it cannot solve them alone,” said Richard K. Miller, president of Olin College. “Solving these problems will require unprecedented levels of cooperation and holistic approaches. Global solutions—not new technologies—must be the objective, and these require innovation and cooperation among many fields.”
“This summit will be an opportunity for us to come together to show how we can prepare the next generation to address our toughest global challenges,” said Babson College President Leonard A. Schlesinger. “We also can demonstrate through this summit how working beyond our natural boundaries empowers institutions and individuals within them and ultimately can move us much closer to solving the problems our society needs solved.”
Summit organizers plan to celebrate and highlight the work of students taking on grand challenge issues. The “Extraordinary Stories Student Award Program” will solicit nominations from students and recent graduates who have made special contributions toward one of the grand challenge problems or areas. The stories will be showcased on a blog prior to the summit, and at the summit itself. A total of $15,000 in cash prizes will be awarded as part of the program, which is funded through a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The deadline for submissions is March 1. More information and entry rules are available at http://www.grandchallengestories.org.
The summit will also conduct a separate design competition with the theme “Improving Human Wellbeing in the Developing World.” The submission deadline for abstracts is April 6. Visit http://grandchallengesummit.olin.edu/design_comp.aspx#national for more information.
Michael Chmura, Babson College
Joe Hunter, Olin College of Engineering
Arlie Corday, Wellesley College
Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 75 countries.