In my scientific career I concentrated on the interrelated fields of acoustics, geophysical imaging and – more recently – socio-economic transition and climate change. All these fields have in common that research results are closely connected with the future of our Planet. 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 into one integrated network with interplaying technical, economic, social and ecological processes that strengthen each other. 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 and scientific knowledge on the behavior of the earth’s natural system with the aim 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 scientific missions in terms of future contributions to society at large, business organizations should focus on long-term inclusive strategies and governments should concentrate on truly serving the public interest. In all of this, 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.
The academic education should distinguish itself from other schools by not aiming at 'scientific depth' only, but also by paying attention to the interaction with neighbouring fields (‘scientific breadth’). Lack of system thinking is the biggest problem we see in today’s complex problem solving. In addition to specialisation, science urgently needs knowledge integration! This means not only the implementation of traditional deductive science with a principal role for hypothesis and modelling (‘theoretical simulation’), but also the use of inductive science with a principal role for measurement and analysis ('data science’).
In crowded Netherlands, we want to give priority to prosperity as well as to well-being (referred to as 'broad prosperity'). Related to this ambition, we must conclude that a major imbalance has developed around Schiphol Airport over the years.
Due to excessive airport noise well-being has seriously suffered. Berkhout developed a challenging vision for the future that proposes a thorough renewal of the Dutch aviation policy.
His advice to politicians: 'stop with model cheating', to Schiphol: ‘abandon your obsolete business model’ and to the neighbouring citizens: ‘don’t await but act!’.
The Center for Global Socio-Economic Change (CFGSEC) is a social enterprise that focuses on promoting prosperity and well-being in societies worldwide. CFGSEC has a unique organization. It doesn’t need to angle for assignments in order to keep a permanent staff at work. For every issue that comes its way, CFGSEC brings together the right professionals from elsewhere (including zzp’ers and retired experts). This allows the Centre to provide tailor-made teams at a high multidisciplinary level. And at least as important, CFGSEC teams have no interest in manipulating project outcomes.