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Today's Great Challenge

Howard Gardner, psychologist and educator
Harvard Graduate School of Education

The greatest challenge for the coming period is not scientific or technological, in the usual sense. It is primarily moral in character. We live at a time when innovation is being honored in every domain. However, innovation in itself is neither good nor bad. Atomic energy can be used to blow up cities or to fuel them. Biotechnology can save lives or create virulent new organisms. Now that we can both destroy life on a huge scale, and create and clone new forms of life, it is imperative that we take responsibility for the implications of our discoveries. This responsibility cannot be left entirely to 'the people'—who are not informed about most matters, nor can it be left entirely to the innovators themselves, who are not disinterested parties. Rather, we must develop new forms of guardianship. Citizens who are prepared to become well informed, and professionals who are willing to work with neighboring disciplines, will play an important part in this new endeavor—an endeavor which can never end.

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