Futuring Paper – Natural Sciences

Convener: James Schwab (Atmospheric Sciences Research Center)

Your challenge will be to envision a 10-year future for learning, work, and professional practice, then “plan from that future backward.” The disciplines will be divided into 10 foci and will create a collection of brief summary papers will ensure the planning process considers many possibilities. Each discipline will work through four key questions and generate a 5-6 page summary with perhaps a page each of narrative and/or bulleted lists. While it may be helpful to do some basic background research on trends in higher education and each discipline, these papers do not need a high degree of rigor. Your insights as experts in the disciplines are valuable. The four questions for the disciplines follow, one per page.

  1. What forces are shaping your discipline today (learning, work, and professional practice)?
    • The need to develop policies that ensure societal well being.
    • Public concern about climate and the environment in general.
    • Knowledge gaps in fundamental scientific areas.
    • Increasing amount and quality of satellite data.

  2. In ten years, what forces will shape changes in your discipline?
    • All of the above.
    • Issues related to developing countries and their pollution burden.
    • Any trend toward renewable energy sources (or not as the case may be).
    • Climate and Weather
    • Human Health
    • Natural and managed ecosystems


    How will professional practice be affected?

    • Greater focus on global climate, and on pollution issues in the developing world.

  3. What are the implications for your profession, continuous professional development, and teaching and learning?
    • Health of the atmosphere directly impacts human health, economic opportunity, societal stability, and confidence in the future.

    Specifically, what new opportunities may be created in the future?  

    • Scientific and policy advances that -
      • Minimize negative impacts,
      • Maximize standards of living, and
      • Avoid unintended negative consequences.
    • Create a core predictive framework to accurately assess the impact of human choices on the atmosphere.

  4. How will the future developments and opportunities affect the university – impacted departments or units?
    • Departments and centers have the ability to address key scientific gaps, such as
      • “Understand and quantify the influence of the coupling between chemical and meteorological processes on the distribution of trace constituents in the troposphere.” (NAS, 2016) addressable by DAES and ASRC
      • “Determine the role of meteorology, including temperature, precipitation, and extreme events, on emissions and removal of atmospheric species.” (NAS, 2016) addressable by DAES and ASRC
      • “Measure cloud properties, including precipitation efficiencies, as a function of relevant gas and particle sources, compositions, and concentrations.” (NAS, 2016) addressable by DAES and ASRC
      • “Quantify the distribution of atmospheric constituents that impact human health.”  (NAS, 2016) addressable by ASRC (and others?)

    How might UAlbany respond to these within the strategic planning process?

    • Provide institutional support and leadership for teaching and research in these key scientific and policy areas.