‘Geopolitics and Technology’ the topic of next URI Honors Colloquium lecture, Sept. 20

Posted on
KINGSTON, R.I. – September 12, 2011 – Peter Schwartz, cofounder of Global Business Network, is the next speaker in the University of Rhode Island’s 2011 Honors Colloquium, which examines the question “Are you ready for the future?”

He will discuss the implication of the interplay between geopolitics and technology on likely scenarios for the future on Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Edwards Auditorium on the URI Kingston campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

An internationally renowned futurist and business strategist, Schwartz specializes in scenario planning, working with corporations, governments, and institutions to create alternative perspectives of the future and develop robust strategies for a changing and uncertain world.

Schwartz emphasizes that scenarios are not predictions but, rather, are built “to help you change your view of reality – to match it up more closely with reality as it is, and reality as it is going to be.” He defines scenarios as “a set of organized ways to dream effectively about our future.” An important element of scenario planning is to envision a range of possible futures so that one is prepared for any eventuality. Schwartz recommends at least three scenarios: the status quo, a future in which life goes on pretty much as it has, and the two opposite extremes, an optimistic future, one in which one envisions the best thing that could happen, and a pessimistic future, one in which one asks what could go wrong.

Schwartz’s current research and scenario work is focused on climate change and national security issues, and it also encompasses energy resources and the environment, technology, telecommunications and aerospace. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Affairs Council and, in Singapore, the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Council.

The rest of the speakers in the lecture series are: science fiction author Vernor Vinge on what sci-fi writers know about the future (Sept. 27); Anthony Atala, director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, on making new organs (Oct. 4); bioengineer Jim Collins on synthetic biology (Oct. 11); URI Professor Jason Dwyer on trends in nanotechnology (Oct. 18); URI Professor Chris Roman, hurricane researcher Joseph Cione, and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute chief technologist James Bellingham on robotics use in the atmosphere and ocean (Oct. 25); biological engineer and brain and cognitive scientist Ed Boyden on enhancing the brain — past, present and future (Nov. 1); cognitive scientist Deb Roy and media researcher Johanna Blakley in a panel on social media (Nov. 8); cybersecurity expert Richard Clarke on cyberwarfare (Nov. 15); and Laurie Zoloth, director of the Center for Bioethics, Science and Society, on ethics and genetics (Nov. 29).

All of the lectures will be streamed live at www.uri.edu/hc, where the complete schedule of events is also listed. For additional information about the URI Honors Colloquium, contact Deborah Gardiner at debg@uri.edu or 401-874-2381.

Major sponsors of the Honors Colloquium are the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation, the URI Honors Program, and the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, with sustaining sponsors including The Thomas Silvia and Shannon Chandley Honors Colloquium Endowment, The Mark and Donna Ross Honors Colloquium Humanities Endowment and the URI Office of the Provost and Office of the President. Additional support is provided by URI’s Harrington School of Communication and Media, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, Classroom Media Services, College of the Environment and Life Sciences, College of Human Science and Services, College of Business Administration, College of Pharmacy, Office of the Vice President for Administration and Finance, University College, Coastal Institute, Division of University Advancement, College of Nursing, and Department of Communication Studies.