Two Decades of Influence and Innovation - paving the way for years to come.

Excerpt from Ralph J. Cicerone’s presentation on September 15, 2011

So, what’s happened after 20 years? What is the evidence of impact?

Are we making any gain on those driving issues and is it being done with high quality?

Is there impact here in California? Is there impact Nationally? Internationally?

The answer was just a resounding yes!

The quality of the students - what the students are doing after they leave the campus as compared to anyone else in the country or internationally. They’re winning competitions they’re making impact in their areas of pursuit.

The prominence of the faculty – the number of times they are invited to go elsewhere to try to start something new or tell other people what’s wrong with their programs and so forth – it’s really encouraging.

There’s also clear evidence of the expansion of the impact. We heard today about the enrollments, the quality of students, the new degree programs just coming out of the School of Physical Sciences here under Earth System Science. They have introduced a Bachelor of Arts degree, which is the first time that kind of degree is given out of Physical sciences. It’s recognition that a lot of the interest in these issues comes from students of economics and the humanities and other fields. The students will take enough science from ESS to satisfy these requirements, while they continue to be primarily, lets say social scientists. That was very impressive, and a course we did not want to do 20 years ago - we thought there were too many reasons we shouldn’t be doing it, but the evidence of the impact is there, and they are now offering this kind of program.

There was going to be 100 majors this year in the baccalaureate program in this department. Originally we didn’t think there would be that kind of need or impact.  If you’ve ever seen an exponential on a graph, that’s what this enrollment looked like.

Another encouraging thing about today was the focus on the future. All of the discussion was how to get better, how to make progress more rapidly on these driving problems, how to get that impact translated so that decision makers and businesses and industry and policy makers around the world can engage on their terms.  The communications issues are real.

There was a tremendous focus on the future, on the science, on what’s needed to do it better and how to equip all of the students and researchers here even better than they are being today. So the day was filled, just absolutely filled with thinking about how to continue to improve to make real progress on the science, to provide the scientific basis for societal progress, as well as to distinguish the program even more academically, so the students will be even more equipped to make a real difference.

It starts with an idea, and it starts with ambition…

"Challenges in ESS: Past, Present & Future"