World Academy of Art & Science Draft Vision & Mission
ARTICLE | April 5, 2011
In 2009-10, the Academy conducted a strategic planning process in which more than sixty Fellows contributed ideas and proposals relating to the future direction and activities of WAAS. Based on these contributions, the Strategic Planning Committee submitted two reports to the Board of Trustees which include draft vision and mission statements. The first report containing the Mission statement was approved by the Board at a meeting in August 2009 and was disseminated to Fellows. The second report, which contains a Vision statement, was presented to the Board in May 2010. We publish both statements here and invite you to make comments and suggestions in the forum at www.seed-ideas.org.
The world is in need of guiding ideas, a vision, to more effectively direct our intellectual, moral and scientific capabilities for world peace, global security, human dignity and social justice. Today we face myriad challenges. Unprecedented material and technological achievements co-exist with unconscionable and in some cases increasing poverty, inequality and injustice. Advances in science have unleashed remarkable powers, yet these very powers as presently wielded threaten to undermine the very future of our planet. Rapidly rising expectations have increased frustrations and tensions that threaten the fabric of global society. Prosperity itself has become a source of instability and destruction when wantonly pursued without organizational safeguards for our collective well-being. No longer able to afford the luxury of competition and strife based primarily on national, ethnic or religious interests and prejudices, we need urgently to acquire the knowledge and fashion the institutions required for free, fair and effective global governance.
Humanity’s progress has been driven by democracy, technology, education, social organization, knowledge, cultural and spiritual values. War, exploration, the quest for empire, trade, money, agriculture, urbanization, industrialization, science and religion have each in turn played a role. Yet the accumulated knowledge and mastery of the material world and biological processes provide insufficient guidance to meet our present challenges. We need also to acquire a commensurate knowledge of ourselves as an evolving race, the sources of our creativity and our errors, the processes that govern our individual and collective advancement, as well as the inherent tendencies of our race that oppose and often destroy our most cherished values and accomplishments.
In recent centuries the world has been propelled by the battle cry of revolutionary ideas –freedom, equality, fraternity, universal education, workers of the world unite. Today the world needs evolutionary ideas that can spur our collective progress without the wake of destructive violence that threatens to undermine the huge but fragile political, social, financial and ecological infrastructure on which we depend and strive to build a better world.
Until recently, history has recorded the acts of creative individual thinkers and dynamic leaders who altered the path of human progress and left a lasting mark on society. Over the past half century, the role of pioneering individuals is increasingly being replaced by that of new and progressive organizations, including the international organizations of the UN system and NGOs such as the Club of Rome, Pugwash and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. These organizations stand out because they are inspired by high values and committed to the achievement of practical, but far-reaching goals. This was, no doubt, the intention of the Academy’s founders when they established this institution in 1960 as a transnational association to explore the major concerns of humanity in a non-governmental context.
The founders of WAAS were motivated by a deep emotional commitment and sense of responsibility to work for the betterment of all humankind. Their overriding conviction was in the need for a united global effort to control the forces of science and technology and govern the peaceful evolution of human society. Inhibiting conditions limited their ability to translate these powerful motives into action, but these ideals still retain their original power for realization. Today circumstances are more conducive, the international environment is more developed. No single organization can by itself harness the motive force needed to change the world, but an organization founded with such powerful intentions can become a magnet and focal point for like-minded agencies to project creative ideas that possess the inherent dynamism for self-fulfillment.
The World Academy of Art and Science is an association of committed individuals drawn from diverse cultures, nationalities, occupations and intellectual pursuits spanning the arts, humanities and sciences, conscious of the profound social consequences and policy implications of knowledge, and united by a common aspiration to address the urgent challenges and emerging opportunities confronting humanity today. Our mission is to promote cross-disciplinary dialogue generative of original ideas and integrated perspectives that comprehend the root causes and effective remedies for our common problems, while furthering those currents of thought and social movement that affirm the value of human dignity and equitable development. The Academy dedicates itself to the pursuit of creative, catalytic ideas that can provide to present and future generations enlightened leadership in thought that leads to effective action.
Strategic Planning Committee