International Transdisciplinary Scientists' Village Main Concept
The International Transdisciplinary Scientist's Village (Its-Village), through its transdisciplinary research program, has a vision of designing and implementing new and practical solutions to difficult regional problems around the world. The problems could be social, political, educational, infrastructure, agricultural, energy, resources, sanitation, health, environmental or any combination. Problems may appear in any country and, through our highly connected civilization, adversely affect communities anywhere else in the world. Many agencies, companies, foundations, non-governmental organizations and other organizations which are working to improve human conditions, but are hampered by the complexity and limitations of disciplinary approaches and specialty knowledge that often diminish long term solutions. The transdisciplinary (TD) approach assumes all aspects of a region are connected. Transdisciplinarity not only transcends disciplines but also nations. This Transdisciplinary-Transnational-Transcultural (T3) approach looks at a whole group of problems within a region and views the problems as interconnected. Therefore, the design of proposed solutions reaches beyond temporary “one-time” fixes to create a broader, more permanent change which improves the daily lives of everyone affected.
Its-Village is a new research and development infrastructure within TheATLAS and does not seek financial benefit from working on these problems. The motivation is solely to improve human and natural conditions throughout the world. Project funding for the work will potentially come from international funding organizations that commonly support these types of efforts. Overhead costs of the facilities, operations and expenses will be covered by sources such as endowments, donations, and partially by funded projects. Funding obtained for specific research will be shared by participating researchers from contributing countries.
In every country, there will be representatives and researchers who will search for candidate projects. These "field-based researchers" i.e., people closest to the problems will be complemented by "facility-based researchers" who help work the problem in a lab or other facility and bring scientific and engineering insight to the mix. Either type may be located in industrialized, developing or underdeveloped countries because difficult problems can arise anywhere. The emphasis, however, will be with developing and under-developed nations, where the needs are often more acute. Since TD research assumes everything (people, nations, infrastructure, natural systems, etc) is potentially connected, analysis of problems reaches across national boundaries. Together, these researchers with their tools, techniques, insight and knowledge form the necessary ingredients to rapidly find practical solutions.
At times, even industrialized nations experience the problems commonly associated with under-developed countries. These problems may be the result of natural disasters, wars, or economic downturns. Consider the gulf coast of Texas after hurricane Ike which experienced total devastation in some areas. No electricity. No water. Most structures are left in rubble. Their problems in many ways are like those seen in parts of underdeveloped nations, although less permanent.
In summary, Its-Village will assemble research teams from industrialized nations and put them with researchers from other, less developed nations. Researchers from developing nations have the advantage of feeling and living the problem and can better see the root cause. They can lead other researchers in the right direction with their unique perspective. Industrial nations have the knowledge and technology to bring to bear on the problem, but may not have the perspective and life experiences. A collaborative combination of these skills in a transdisciplinary environment can be very successful in delivering solutions which help everyone.
An example is Dr. Muhammad Yunus, who is a professor of economics from Bangladesh, an under-developed nation. In the 1980's, he created the concept of micro-credit which provides small unsecured loans to micro-businesses in poor regions. This has proved enormously beneficial to poorer nations and now supports some 7.4 million people around the world. Dr. Yunus was educated in the US, so he possessed a strong knowledge of modern economic theory and practice. But it was his combined academic, professional, and personal on-the-street experience that made the difference. What emerged is a unique solution which won him the Nobel Prize. It is safe to assume, without the personal experience and field knowledge of the problem, there would not be such an economic system today. One never knows where knowledge, genius, and insight will emerge. It is the goal of the its-Village to facilitate that critical interaction through transdisciplinary-transnational-transcultural approach.
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