Exploring Information Studies for Human Advancement: Drawing Lessons from Adversity and Forging a New Path

By Marcin J. Schroeder

The upcoming 2021 IS4SI Summit arrives amidst the shadow cast by the global crisis of the new coronavirus pandemic. With millions infected, lives lost, and livelihoods shattered, we find ourselves grappling with unprecedented challenges. The term “crisis” originates from the Greek concept of discernment and judgment, aptly capturing our current ordeal. Amidst this crisis, we witness both remarkable acts of heroism, as individuals risk their lives to provide medical care, and disturbing instances of exploitation of human suffering for political or economic gain.

While the prospect of vaccines offers hope for controlling the virus, there is a danger in hastily returning to a pre-pandemic “normal.” As philosopher Hegel cautioned, history often reveals humanity’s failure to learn from its past mistakes. It is incumbent upon the academic community not to forget the lessons of this crisis. Simply reverting to the “old normal” would be a disservice to those who suffered and sacrificed during this tumultuous period.

We must not only remember but also discern what lessons to glean. If we solely focus on assigning blame or criticizing the shortcomings of leaders, we risk missing the deeper insights to be gained. The pandemic has laid bare the consequences of ignorance and anti-scientific attitudes pervasive in society. As members of the academic community, we bear a responsibility to promote knowledge and understanding through education. Are we providing our societies with a comprehensive intellectual framework that fosters understanding and unity?

While diversity of thought is essential for progress, it is imperative that we establish common ground and rules of engagement. We may disagree on specific research questions, but we must strive to understand each other’s perspectives. This shared foundation is crucial for presenting a united front to the broader public, whose trust in science may falter amidst conflicting messages.

There is an urgent need to construct a common framework for science, philosophy, and the humanities—a shared vision of reality that integrates diverse perspectives. IS4SI has a vital role to play in this endeavor. The concept of information, ubiquitous across academic disciplines, offers a promising avenue for building a transdisciplinary understanding of reality. The 2021 Summit will provide a platform for experts to share the latest developments in their fields and foster dialogue aimed at mutual understanding and cooperation.

For more information about the IS4SI 2021 Summit, please visit: IS4SI Summit 2021