Future Solutions

Thursday, May 2, 2019

By Blake Cole

The multidisciplinary nature of Penn Arts & Sciences makes it a nexus for innovation in tackling the world’s leading challenges. In this issue, we look to one such challenge: energy demands. Bolstered by a transformative gift from P. Roy Vagelos, C’50, PAR’90, HON’99, and Diana T. Vagelos, PAR’90, of $50 million for a new science center, our scholars are better equipped than ever to take on the challenge. Our cover story, Creating a Powerhouse for Energy Solutions, gives readers a tour of the trailblazing research and bold initiatives that define our commitment to creating a sustainable planet.

The humanities, ever a cornerstone of the arts and sciences, take the lead in “Lost World, Lost Lives,” which examines a quest to catalogue hundreds of books once looted by the Nazis, and “Pint-Size Philosophers,” in which a philosophy professor spearheads a program that is opening young minds in the community to a new kind of philosophical thinking.

Turning to the global stage, “Giving Voice to China’s Economy” recounts an economics professor’s founding of VoxChina.org, a website that addresses rarely discussed aspects of China’s economy, pushing research by leading economists into the public sphere. And in “Lessons in Global Leadership,” we examine Fox Leadership International’s (FLI) impact. Since its inception in 2014, FLI has prepared hundreds of students for roles as effective leaders who work to advance human well-being.

Recently, the fascinating first images of a black hole appeared, piquing increased public interest in space-based phenomena. In “OMNIA 101: Dark Matter,” two physics and astronomy professors plot their own courses as they look to the unknown in a new series designed to offer readers a peek into what faculty do every day in their classrooms—and how they bring their expertise to the next generation.

No issue of OMNIA would be complete without a check-in with our alums. “On the Job” delivers firsthand accounts of how an education from Penn Arts & Sciences helped prepare past graduates for the industry of their choice, whether it meant implementing skills they learned in a specific major, or adapting the rich liberal arts curriculum to a path not previously realized.

In our Insomnia section, we also invite you to peruse a few pieces from the award-winning poet Charles Bernstein, who will bring his teaching career to a close after serving as a full-time faculty member since 2003.

With so many exciting avenues of research, it is never a challenge to fill OMNIA’s pages. We hope you find as much enjoyment in reading our stories as we do in sharing them with you.