I wanted to share this message and call for suggestions from Don Waters, CNI’s Inaugural Senior Scholar. Note that as part of this message, Don shares a link to a document that provides considerable detail on his framing and current thinking about the project he’s embarked upon.
I am grateful to the Coalition for Networked Information for giving me the privilege and opportunity to serve as a CNI Senior Scholar. My research proposal for this role is entitled “Information Infrastructure to Address Societal Grand Challenges” and is available on the CNI website at
I began work on this project on November 1, 2022, and I am now writing to invite comments on this project from readers of CNI Announce. I am also asking for your help.
The premise of this project is that a complex set of interrelated problems is requiring increasingly urgent attention from the nation’s research universities. Often described as “grand challenges,” these problems include climate change, forced migration, food scarcity, pandemics, inequality, and racism. Over the next decade, university leaders will need to shape institutional priorities to respond to growing public demand for effective solutions. They will need to mobilize academic expertise across their institutions and to foster deep, extensive, problem-oriented collaborations that join researchers from the social sciences, humanities, and STEM with interested members of the public.
In this mobilization effort, university leaders will almost certainly rely on faculty, especially in centers and institutes, who have already established—or have begun to establish—substantial, cross-disciplinary collaborations focused on climate change and other grand challenge questions. They will also turn to campus libraries and information technology organizations for support in creating, expanding, and sustaining the necessary information infrastructure. As CNI Senior Scholar, I plan to survey the information needs of researchers in university centers and institutes that are focused on grand challenge problems and compose a set of case studies that would help define the key elements of the required information infrastructure.
In your institutions, are there institutes or centers that I should include in my survey? If so, or if you have comments or suggestions about this project, please contact me at email@example.com. Many thanks.