Week 1 Blog Post: Grand Challenges

Throughout the readings and our discussion from the first week of class, one of the main ideas I understood about our world’s Grand Challenges is that in order to achieve sustainable and effective development, our goals must be ambitious, yet still achievable (Kahlil). Additionally, the contribution that science will have on societal developments, such as creating cleaner energy resources (one of our Grand Challenges), will not only aid in alleviating environmental issues, but will also allow for growth in other sectors of society, such as economic growth through the creation of jobs, as well as growth in technology innovation as new ideas can contribute to various new inventions. Thus, finding solutions to our Grand Challenges can only make way for a more productive and healthy society.

Additionally, the first week’s readings also referred to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals– or SDGs– which essentially target some of the world’s most detrimental issues, such as poverty and hunger. While the goal to eradicate (or mitigate) these issues by 2030 is a noble task, it does strike as a bit worrisome that these development goals seem too broad to really have any substantial meaning behind them. To create effective development solutions, I believe that every development plan should be tailored to the needs of individual communities in order to maximize the productivity of resources. Thus, the UN’s SDG’s would appear more achievable if the website perhaps gave a few examples of specific plans that they may have to reach different goals in various regions of the world.

Finally, at the start of this class, I was surprised to learn that I had never really been aware about the lack of responsibility that previous societal goals have taken on being inclusive of all members of society. It had never occurred to me that about 15% of our human population has some form of a disability which ends up not being accounted for in areas such as political representation, education, transportation options, and employment opportunities (Class Lecture). Not only is this a disadvantage for individuals with disabilities, but this is also a disadvantage to society as a whole since we are missing the opportunity for greater productivity in our communities. Such opportunities for productivity can come out of expanding the job market through greater inclusiveness (thus promoting greater economic growth), and additionally, increasing the focus on research for understanding disabilities and development as a means to promote technological innovation that may be beneficial to all members of society (UN Draft Resolution on Social Development), while also promoting social equality. I truly believe in and agree with Amartya Sen’s outlook on “development as freedom” (Class Lecture).

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