The Long View, Conversations on the Future



    Professor Rob Dunn, NC State Interim Senior Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Programs, in collaboration with Greg Raschke, Director of NC State Libraries, is developing The Long View, Conversations on the Future initiative to be implemented over the course of FYs 2022-2025 to help guide future planning for NC State’s diverse portfolio of interdisciplinary centers. Prof. Dunn intends to develop a series of scenarios for the future through conversations between individuals with disciplinary depth, innovators in technologies relevant to a particular topic, broad-thinking generalists and experts with an understanding of historical or social context. Professor Dunn will conduct and catalog in-person conversations with leading researchers about the intermediate and far future contextualized in light of stasis and business-as-usual models of the future.

    These conversations will consider the jobs of the future and the infrastructure that is necessary. To date, several conversations have been held with leading researchers on the following topics:

    • Disruptive Science, with Russell Funk, Associate Professor of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota;
    • AI in Higher Education, with James Lester, Director of the NSF AI Institute for Engaged Learning and NC State Distinguished Professor of Computer Science;
    • Demographic Change and U.S. Enrollment Trends, with Patrick Lane, Vice President of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education’s Policy Analysis and Research unit;
    • Academic Big Data, with Daniel Larremore, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, University of Colorado, Boulder;
    • Massive Online Classes, with Pia Sorensen, Senior Preceptor in Chemical Engineering and Applied Materials, John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University.

    In addition to these conversations, the Long View Initiative also is conducting and cataloging small group interviews on topics such as The Future of Geospatial Analytics, The Future of Antibiotic Resistance, and two interviews on The Future of Genetic Engineering.  Additional interviews are being planned for AI and Education, The Future of Sensors, Emerging Pathogens, and The Future of 3-D Printing Enabled, AI-driven Manufacturing. JoAnna Klein, a NY Times writer is helping to conduct and edit these interviews. Professor Dunn is also working with the Office of Research Innovation to engage NC State interdisciplinary cluster leaders in these conversations and held a cluster event on April 12, 2023. Roughly 40 faculty members have helped shape the current progress of this project. This initiative will culminate in a public event that will be held at the NC State Libraries. Outputs of this initiative will include white papers, short form interviews, and open access stories and conversations that are being recorded and archived at the NC State libraries. These white papers have the potential to be used in long-term planning in centers and in university-wide planning regarding the immediate and far future. Professor Dunn has indicated KIETS support leverages cash and in-kind commitments from the NC State Libraries, SE Climate Adaptation Science Center, Comparative Medicine Institute, TriCEM, Sigma Xi, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Danish Natural History Museum, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Prof Dunn is also pursuing support from the Sloan Foundation and Templeton Foundation.

    The talks are now online. View the video here.