We are living in a world of convergence. Boundaries are blurring between natural and built environments, humans and machines, economy and the environment. Humanity has considerable power to design the environment in which we reside. The rapid pace of science and technological change provides important opportunities for human prosperity and well-being. Infrastructure is the interconnected system of the physical, natural and social components that societies need to function.
However with progress comes considerable risk. No part of the planet is untouched by the collective impact of the more than 7 billion human inhabitants. The consequences of human impacts are threatening planetary life support systems while hundreds of millions of people live in poverty. These threats further destabilize security and society.
Investment in a broad array of next generation infrastructure can foster more sustainable communities and enhance resilience in the face of accelerating multiple socio-environmental and security threats:
- Natural Infrastructure provides ecological services such as clean air, water, biodiversity, food, and fiber
- Built Infrastructure enables transportation, housing, energy and communications services
- Cyberinfrastructure supports the data, technology, and transmission to technological advancements and provides technical capacity
- Social Infrastructure enables education, research, and other human services.
The trifecta of science, business and education working together, presents an opportunity for infrastructure to be built, rebuilt, maintained or upgraded to meet standards of sustainability. Innovation in all fields of natural sciences, engineering, computing, social sciences, and education working with business and government offers great potential.
The 2018 NCSE National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy, and the Environment will explore how systems thinking and a sustainability framework can serve society through investment in natural, built, cyber, and social infrastructure. Policymakers, business people, scientists, and other citizens will come together to consider the opportunities for investment in infrastructure and discuss how scholarly communities, business, and government can work together to advance solutions that can enable well-being for all over multiple generations.
We will examine how design that integrates nature and technology can increase resilience in a time of rapid social, technological, and environmental change. We will discuss how research and education can be transformed to foster transdisciplinary convergence to help meet societal needs. The conference will engage people from multiple perspectives, sectors, and disciplines in a rich conversation that will expand personal perspectives, change the way we operate in our professional lives, and influence the policy and scholarly agenda moving forward.
- Advance strategic frameworks for sustainability and resilient infrastructure
- Catalyze thinking and action using a systems perspective on sustainable infrastructure for a healthy economy and environment that benefits all
- Explore the human and ethical dimensions of infrastructure
- Identify science and education to supply tools and information that can drive local outcomes in alliance with global and national challenges
- Advance teaching and educational infrastructure across disciplines and institutional types
- Build collaborating communities of scholars and practitioners in business, government and civil society.
- Emerging megatrends and their consequences
- Integration of natural and built environments
- Convergence between humans and technology
- Ecological design
- Ecosystem services
- Life cycle resilience
- Food, energy and water systems
- Resilient urban systems
- Connections between urban, suburban, and rural areas
- Decarbonizing infrastructure investments
- Mobility and transportation systems of today and tomorrow
- Infrastructure, sustainability, and security
- Smart systems and evidence-based decision making
- Financing infrastructure through public and private investments
- Interdisciplinary education about infrastructure
- Governance, collaboration and citizen engagement at local, state, federal, and international levels
- Modeling and measuring sustainable infrastructure
- Equity as a core aspect of sustainable infrastructure
- Consequences of innovation and technological transformation, and continuous and instantaneous sharing of information