Global Collaboration Is No Longer A Luxury

This graph illustrates collaboration on scientific papers among the 25 nations with the largest science output.

As November 6th draws near, we can see a public revival of national consciousness and identity that surfaces every four years on the eve of presidential elections. The American public takes note of its current state of affairs domestically and in relation to other nation states. The focus is shifted from the individual to the whole nation to the entire world–and people begin to see themselves as part of a greater national and international body.

This ephemeral surge of national consciousness happens amidst a much more longstanding and real surge in our international relationships/dependencies. Though people still chiefly group themselves according to the nation of their birth, both our most meaningless and meaningful tasks now rely on the minds, resources and industries of nations across the globe. Whether it’s having enough oil to heat our homes in the winter or needing data for climate change research, we, as a planetary community, have come to depend on each other more than ever.

An article in the October 2012 issue of Scientific American, “State of the World’s Science”, discusses how accelerated globalization has revved the engines of scientific innovation. The ability of a scientist to communicate, share, and collaborate with other scientists anywhere on Earth is translating into human technological progress and solutions to many modern global and regional problems. In 2006, 16% of publications by American scientists had co-authors from other countries. Just two years later, that number increased to 30%. Any hindrance to this global collaboration can prove detrimental to our species—as was the case of Chinese isolation under Chairman Mao that led to a seven-year delay in awareness of a crucial anti-malarial drug discovered by Chinese researchers.

Global communication and collaboration are proving vital for our species’ ingenuity, creativity, and progress. Giving people the opportunity to engage in global communication and collaboration, therefore, is becoming less of a luxury and more of a fundamental element to ensure individual, national, and global advancements.

If interconnectedness is our present and our future, then our children need to be prepared for it. Let’s prepare them to become the next set of innovators in science: collaborating with those in near proximity and, yes, collaborating meaningfully with people across the globe.

Start Connecting @ UClass.org

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