In my scientific career I concentrated on the interrelated fields of acoustics, geophysical imaging, circular innovation and – more recently – socio-economic change. All these fields have in common that research results are closely connected with the Grand Challenges in today’s society. I believe that science and society will have to interact more than ever before.
In the years ahead, we will see a stronger coupling between ambitions in science, prosperity development and planet care. This means that the different frameworks, being utilized to realize these ambitions, have to converge to one integrated network with interconnected technical, economic, social and ecological processes. Ultimately, we may expect global platforms around very complex problems that combine scientific knowledge on the behavior of (macro) molecules with scientific knowledge on the behavior of (groups of) people to create new solutions for a better world. We talk here about an unprecedented integration of ambitions, knowledge and scales.
In this symbiotic endeavor universities should state their ambitions in terms of future contributions to society, business organizations should focus on inclusive strategies and governments should concentrate on truly serving the public interest. In all these ambitions, having insight in what is to come is a sine qua non. If we want to be successful in developing a reliable image of the future, it is necessary to understand the present. And if we want to understand the present, it is necessary to know where we come from.