Grave global problems threaten our future: population growth, destruction of natural habitats, loss of wild life, rapid extinction of species, lethal modern war, nuclear weapons ready to be unleashed at the touch of a button, pollution of earth, sea and air, undermining of democracy by the internet, and worst of all, the impending disasters of climate change. All these threats to our future have been made possible by modern scientific and technological research, pursued primarily in universities. Instead of helping us make progress towards a better world, work carried on in universities has led to threats to our future. Can universities be transformed so that they help us solve our global problems rather than contribute to their intensification?
NICHOLAS MAXWELL has devoted much of his working life to arguing that we need to bring about a revolution in universities so that they come to seek and promote wisdom and do not just acquire knowledge. He has published thirteen books on this theme, and numerous papers and chapters in books on more or less closely related philosophical and scientific problems. For thirty years he taught Philosophy of Science at University College London, where he is now Emeritus Reader. His next book, due out soon, is called “Our Fundamental Problem: A Revolutionary Approach to Philosophy” (McGill-Queen’s University Press).