Jakob von Uexkull is the brilliant founder of the influential World Future Council. His articles and speeches are noted for brevity and incisive insights. In this short article, “Toward a Comprehensive Approach to Paradigm Change,” the author seeks to clarify precisely what the preexisting paradigm is, and how we are to understand the shift in this paradigm. He gives us many illustrations of the problems indicated in conventional economic wisdom and the hard reality outside about the dangers we face, which seem oblivious to the conventionally trained experts. He draws attention to the problem of climate change and why it is that public concern is so deficient. A central insight, critical to scientists and intellectuals who influence public opinion, is that paradigm changes cannot be negotiated away. It is impossible to negotiate away melting glaciers and spreading deserts. There is no nature that provides for rescue packages here. So, we confront the challenge of a non-negotiable world future. The issues are starkly presented and represent an utterly important urgency. The author presents the issues with a sharp and unambiguous clarity.

Joseph Agassi’s essay, “To care for the future of the human race,” focuses on the real dangers that challenge human survivability. Matters such as the proliferation of nuclear weapons, exponential pollution, unconstrained poverty, and population expansion are central crises of our time. He contends that the most urgent task of enlightened intellectuals is to think clearly about how we might minimize the risk of the destruction of all of humanity. He sees in this the dire necessity of some form of global governance. Notwithstanding the fears of some form of globalized central authority, Agassi suggests that we can create an institution whose authority is vested in a world constituent assembly. This, it appears, is a shift towards the notion of a world politics and possibly away from the field called international relations. The notion of a world politics, if thought through, results in a demand for a radical change in the global power process. It would require a radical redesign of hierarchies and a complex realignment of global participatory interests. The author opens up the discourse for what is effectually a radical democratization of the entire global social, power, and constitutive process.

In “The Psychology of Warmaking,” Roberto Vacca has revisited a classic to date initiated in the correspondence of Einstein and Freud about the role of personality in the initiation and conduct of war. In a sense, we tend to think of the impulse which drives war-making decision making as reflective of darker unconscious drives. Pitted against this is another important drive, and that is the drive that somehow connects altruism with compassion, love and reason. What makes these considerations matters of urgent global concern is the fact that human technological capacity points to the real and serious possibility of human extinction. The author addresses these issues from a variety of vantage points and emerges with a critical challenge given the state of global organization and disorganization. One key issue moves us beyond simply the domain of psychology or it moves psychology into the important domain of culture, and in particularly, the culture of peace. He challenges us to think more deeply about a paradigm of peace culture. In addition, the new paradigm calls for an alertness of imagination in understanding, new horizon, resources, tools, and mileposts. This is a provocative and thoughtful contribution.

Democracy is an endangered political practice when unlimited forms of wealth are used to influence, dominate, or otherwise undermine the essentials of democratic participation in politics. An excessive wealth in these processes will ultimately lead to the institutionalization of plutocracy, which threatens the fundamentals of democratic governance on a global basis. In “Simulated Judgment on Campaign Finance,” Winston Nagan has followed their earlier example of providing a simulated judgment of the International Court of Justice. Co-authored with Madison Hayes, the article revisits the lawfulness of the threat or use of nuclear weapons. This simulated judgment is identified with a fictional jurisdiction, the Constitutional Court of Azania. The term ‘Azania’ was promoted by some groups resisting apartheid in South Africa. However, the constitutional provisions quoted are from the new Constitution of South Africa. The judgment assumes that the constitutional provisions of the Azanian Constitution and the Constitution of the United States are functionally similar. The judgment then has to look at the Azanian provisions and take into account the decisions of the United States Supreme Court. The Azanian Constitution permits the Azanian court to consider comparative law as a source. Therefore, it is in a position to review the judgment of the United States Supreme Court to determine whether it should be followed in Azania. This provides the author of the simulated judgment an opportunity to review the U.S. Court’s approach to campaign expenditures. In this review, it is concluded that the reasoning of the U.S. Supreme Court is constitutionally deficient and may indeed open the floodgates for changing democracy to plutocracy. – Garry Jacobs

Carlos Alvarez Pereira’s short essay “The Greatest Adventure on Earth” is a wonderfully provocative meditation on the contradictions, dangers and possibilities of human existence. He sees among the challenges of global importance the immense value of human potentiality, the importance of the expansion of trust and generosity, a deeper sense of appreciation of feminine and masculine values, the changing objectives in organizational behavior, the importance of the empowerment of all human beings, and the centrality of a holistic view of the global human prospect. This essay is a challenging intellectual adventure.

Ullica Segerstrale’s essay, “Futuristic Scenarios and Human Nature,” takes up the challenging issue of how human nature may be impacted and possibly even transcended by future scenarios of technological development. She provides us with a very good insight into the problem of the interdependence and interdetermination of social process and technological innovation. This is a challenging vista, one that may generate an optimistic future for human nature and one that is perhaps more dismal among the great challenges of the dynamics of artificial intelligence. As she notes, some machines may indeed have the capacity to self-replicate and improve. The possibility of a dramatic and sudden transition might confront humanity with a “singularity.” What is the role of a human future in the universe of singularity? This is a vital question and the author has done us a service in raising such questions in such a clear and elegant manner.

Ruben Nelson is an original and powerful thinker. His short essay, “Civilizational paradigm change: The Modern/Industrial Case,” focusing on civilizational paradigm change in the context of the Modern/Industrial civilization is a brilliant outlook at the factors that shape our thought and paradigms of thought. His essay looks at paradigm change from several perspectives, all of which throw light on the forms of civilization and the challenges of transformation. This is another important essay and an indication of the far-reaching intellectual power of the Fellows of the Academy.

John Scales Avery has written a brief but elegant essay on the urgent need for renewable energy. “The Urgent Need for Renewable Energy” brings in important scientific insights in a form that is readable to non-scientists and public policy intellectuals. The issue of renewable energy, the challenge of climate change, the dominant role that energy interests play in seeking to constrain the evolution of alternative energy sources are a major challenge according to Avery’s article, which puts the core issues on the table in a concise and communicable manner. This is an important contribution.

Michael Marien has provided us with a useful summary of the most recent reports touching on the question of how climate change poses serious national security challenges in his “Book Reviews”. Recent reports, for example, look at the challenge climate change poses for economic and national security interests. It is interesting to note that the findings of the Military Advisory Board declared that climate change poses a serious threat to American national security. The Military Advisory Board provided an update expressing its dismay that discussions about climate change have receded from informed public discourse and debate. The military experts again stressed the seriousness that climate change poses for human security systems on a global basis. The military’s report is very useful because of its comprehensive checklist of climate change issues, as well as its specific recommendations for action. The author’s summary of literature here is a very useful update for those Fellows who are deeply concerned about the challenges posed by climate change.

Robert Hoffman has provided us a short review essay of a book by Mary Christina Wood. Her book, Nature’s Trust: Environmental Law for a New Environmental Age, details the failures of the agencies regulating the protection of the environment and is a call for urgent radical reform.

Emil Constantinescu in “Golden Fleece: Higher Education and the New Society of Third Millenium”, has written a powerful and wide-ranging meditation on education,in general, and higher education, in particular. He is certainly one of the most experienced learned Fellows with significant views on the nature of the university in the context of the challenges of modern society. His insights are profoundly challenging, such as the idea that the fundamental vocation of the university is truth. The acquisition of knowledge may, of course, represent a move to the omnipotence of skilled elites, here he raises the profound question of the democratization of knowledge. The author’s wide-ranging insights flow from financing education and its importance for the disadvantaged, the memories of totalitarian times, the problem of market values and broader humane values, the role of shared responsibility, the idea of a university occupying space outside the traditional walls of the Academy, the challenge of democratizing higher education while avoiding the pitfalls of “massification”, and the new paradigm ideas implicit in a world university. These and many more insights from Emil are included in this essay and make it a must-read for our Fellows.

Janani Harish, in “The Power of Values” explains how the quality of our values and the measure of our commitment to them play a significant role in determining the level of our accomplishment. A global society needs universal values which evolve hand-in-hand with the evolution of the society. Janani, in this important contribution,concludes how striving for values is not a luxury but a necessity to accomplish at a greater level.