Science & Technology Australia President Professor Mark Hutchinson gave the following speech at the inaugural Hope Oration at the Science Exchange in Adelaide hosted by the Royal Institution of Australia, which publishes Cosmos Magazine and Australia’s online science news service Cosmosmagazine.com.
Friends, I wish to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather today, the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains, and pay my respects to their Elders, past, and present. To any Indigenous peoples here today I pay my respect to you and your ancestors and look forward to our collective future of learning and deepening my understanding of deep knowledge and long wisdom about this amazing place we live.
To the esteemed guests, fellow scientists, educators, policymakers, and the broader community, Hi! Thanks for coming. Thank you to Cosmos and the Royal Institute Australia for granting me the honour of delivering the inaugural Hope Oration.
Today we convene under the banner of ‘Hope’—a term often shrouded in layers of emotion, cultural nuances, philosophical quandaries and extremely complex neurobiology. Yet, hope persists as one of humanity’s universal sentiments, its presence underpinning our collective ambitions and individual dreams.
The intent behind the ‘Hope Oration’ is as intricate as it is straightforward. Tonight I aim to catalyse dialogues about science, that extraordinary mechanism that doesn’t just lend itself to technological advances but imbues us with the hope of navigating challenges—be it personal, economic, or political, on scales ranging from local to global. Yet sometimes because we so naturally hope, we forget to intentionalise the processes and systems that allow us to employ our collective superpower of hope, instead leaving critical systems under-resourced or neglected, leading to misplaced luck and chance where once hope served us well.
So, I HOPE you have chosen the right person, and I HOPE I can do this inaugural oration honour justice.
Let’s understand the gravity of what we’re dealing with.
We live in a time where science not only deciphers the code of life but also dreams of peering into the origins of the universe. From the Mars Explorer Curiosity to the James Webb Space Telescope, science isn’t just solving problems; it’s also revealing newer challenges, daring us to venture further.
However, this isn’t just about telescopes aimed at the sky or rovers on alien terrains. It’s about research, much closer to home, that addresses the convergent challenges of our continued existence on this fragile planet. Like the ethical and sustainable protein and carbohydrate food supply. Like how we address PAIN, the greatest unmet need in clinical practice that accounts for, and contributes to more than three-quarters of the global years lived with disability. Like how can we ensure that lessons learnt in one domain like human neuroscience can immediately and seamlessly inform best practices in livestock husbandry and veterinary care? Right through to how can we keep our first responders and defence personnel safe and healthy as we look to a rapidly changing climate, environment and threat space.
So tonight I am going to try and unpack this. I am going to highlight where we are intentionally using HOPE, directed HOPE, intentional HOPE in some of the crazy programs of work we are undertaking in bioinformatics to biophotonics to quantum biology that are allowing us to explore the fringes of what we understand as reality.
It’s crucial to realise that HOPE doesn’t operate in isolation. It’s deeply integrated into the scientific hypothesis and research methodologies that we employ. So, when we discuss hope tonight, we’re not merely pondering a nebulous concept but exploring an actionable tenet deeply embedded in the scientific ecosystem. Tonight, I hope to dissect the very anatomy of hope. We’ll explore its etiological roots and its linguistic disparities across cultures. We’ll demarcate hope from its less substantial cousins—wishing and luck. And yes, we will delve into the scientific corridors where hope strides with its head held high, substantiated by empirical evidence and rational enquiry.
Let’s first establish what we mean when we talk about ‘hope’. It is not merely an optimistic state of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes. Hope is a complex psychological state that goes beyond being a fleeting emotion. It influences not just our decision-making and resilience but extends its influence to the cellular machinery of our bodies. Hope is a psychological construct that transcends into a physiological entity. This means that hope is actually embodied in a “biopsychosocial state”. This is a state that spans the nanoscale environments surrounding the base pairs of our DNA, to the complex anatomical systems working at centimetre scales, right up to metre-length scales of the neuronal systems that connect our big toe to our brain. And all of these length scales of hope are then integrated across time from the nanoseconds of events that occur for us to sustain consciousness, right to the years of accumulated life embodied in our physiology today.
It’s crucial to understand that hope isn’t a monolithic concept; it is truly shaped by our cultural, historical, and even these biological contexts. Consider, for instance, Descartes’ mind-body dualism, the idea that the mind and body are distinct and separable. This notion has been fundamentally shaken by modern advancements in neuroscience and psychology. So beautifully depicted in this Cosmos-commissioned piece of art, we see the mind as part of a garden and connected to machines, therefore embracing the ancient body as a connected garden with the reductionist thinking of Descartes’s body as a machine. As such, our understanding and our art now blur these Cartesian boundaries, placing hope not just in the realm of our thoughts but within the very cells of our bodies.
Let’s delve into a tangible example of this molecular embodiment of hope from the field of medicine. The placebo effect, often dismissed as ‘false hope’, actually reveals hope’s tangible physiological manifestation. This is no fringe science; this is a testament to the body’s remarkable ability to pre-emptively protect and augment healing given the right conditions. When administered a placebo, the body can match patterns to previous healing processes and initiate a similar course of action.
It is as if our cells engage in a form of ‘micro-hoping’, preparing themselves for future challenges based on past successes. This is further supported by epigenetic studies that showcase how our beliefs and expectations can instigate changes at a molecular level. New studies arising from psychoneuroimmunology, a field we are leading the way in here in Australia, point to the opportunity to train the body to be able to respond to protect and alleviate harms and head off illness. These same approaches are allowing us to quantify and measure the complexity of the biopsychosocial state of an individual, with the hope of one day soon being able to objectively diagnose, quantify, segment and with precision medicine treat intractable pain. All invented here in Adelaide with global multispecies impacts.
But hope’s reach goes beyond individual psychology and physiology; it is shaped and influenced by the culture and language we are immersed in. Take the linguistic nuances associated with hope. In Arabic, Amal combines hope with desire and will, while the Japanese term Kibou integrates a sense of longing and reliance. Even among the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of Australia, hope is intricately tied in stories and songlines to the land, community, and a balance between the spiritual and the practical. These linguistic and cultural variations are not trivial; they provide us with valuable lenses to explore how different societies celebrate, caution, and interpret hope.
To truly comprehend hope, we have to realise that HOPE is not a spectator sport—HOPE participatory. It requires not just belief but action. So, I encourage all of you to not just listen tonight but to engage. As we discuss how hope fits into our scientific paradigms and societal structures, remember that it’s a powerful catalyst for change. Its manifestation—how it’s experienced, expressed, and leveraged—depends on a myriad of factors like cultural background, individual experiences, and even our scientific understanding of the world.
So, as we venture deeper into dissecting the anatomy of hope, let’s keep this comprehensive understanding at the forefront. Because, as we will explore further tonight, hope is not just an abstract concept; it’s a tangible tool that can empower us to take action, enriching not only our individual lives but society as a whole.
Now, let’s turn our attention to one of the most fascinating facets of our exploration tonight—the contrasting nuances between hope, wishing, and luck. At a cursory glance, these terms may appear interchangeable, casual synonyms thrown around in daily discourse. However, a deeper dive reveals that they serve as unique psychological, cultural, and even scientific constructs that each play distinct roles in our lives.
First, let’s consider the act of wishing. Wishing is often characterised by a form of desire without an accompanying strategy or action. When we wish, we express a yearning for something to happen, but we do not necessarily take steps to make it so. For instance, one might wish to win a running race, but training for it is a hopeful act, not a wishful one. The very essence of a wish is passive; it’s an expression of a desired outcome that resides mostly in the realm of fantasy. The scientific community seldom relies on wishes. For us, the act of wishing doesn’t translate into actionable research hypotheses.
And then, there’s luck—a concept that often baffles the scientific mind. It’s the serendipitous alignment of circumstances, entirely out of our control. In our line of work, luck is usually a term used to explain the unexplainable, or to account for variables not yet understood. It’s not something we can depend on; rather, it’s a variable we aim to eliminate or at least quantify in our research. To quote the famous scientist Louis Pasteur, “Chance favours the prepared mind.” So, in many ways, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity—again, a far cry from the active, empowering concept of hope.
That leads us to hope, the reason for our gathering tonight. Unlike wishing and luck, hope is active and participatory. Hope is, in many ways, a cognitive strategy. It combines desire with planning, expectation with action. When we hope, we don’t merely sit back and expect good things to happen; we set goals, we establish pathways, and we initiate actions. Hope is a catalyst, setting off a chain reaction of behavioural decisions and outcomes. This is what sets it apart from wishful thinking and blind luck—it’s a driver of purposeful action, not merely a by-product of it.
Moreover, the rationality of hope makes it a cornerstone in scientific endeavour. Hope enables us to form hypotheses, develop experimental designs, and conduct rigorous testing—all aimed at understanding, interpreting, and perhaps controlling the world around us for experimental purposes. When we speak of hope in the scientific context, it’s a hope grounded in empirical evidence and systematic inquiry, not in idle daydreams or the whims of chance. It’s what fuels our perseverance through failed experiments and setbacks, nourishing our drive to push the boundaries of human understanding.
Interestingly, this active sense of hope can be particularly transformative when applied to the realm of healthcare. Here in Australia, we’ve built a healthcare system that is commendably robust but primarily reactive, focusing on treating illness rather than preventing it. In essence, we run an illness system rather than a health system. A reliance on intervention—whether it be pharmaceutical, surgical, or otherwise—often overshadows the powerful benefits of early detection and proactive prevention.
However, envision a future where the concept of hope—rooted in planning and action—permeates our healthcare ethos. Instead of waiting for disease to manifest and then taking steps to manage it, what if we could proactively manage our health? Discoveries on our horizon such as quantum computing and quantum sensors that enable precision medicine are disparate isolated endeavours that if networked become innovations that promise to shift our focus from hospitals to homes and regional centres. These technologies can monitor and process mountains of physiological data at unprecedented resolutions and time scales, detecting the earliest signs of dysfunction long before it escalates into a full-blown illness.
This early detection enables what we can term ‘intentional hope’ in our health. Rather than being passive recipients of healthcare, we become active participants in our own well-being. When an issue is identified, whether it’s an irregular heart rhythm or a slight imbalance in blood chemistry, immediate actions can be taken. This might mean lifestyle adjustments or pre-emptive medications, strategies that can halt the progression of illness before it requires more serious intervention.
Through these technological leaps, we transition from a reactive to a proactive stance. No longer would medical care be something sought primarily in times of crisis; it becomes an ongoing, regular part of our lives, keeping us on a path of sustained well-being. This would see us harness intergenerational scalable community care systems like we see in ‘feelgood’ ABC TV programs of aged care, rather than focusing only on institutionalised capabilities. This transition doesn’t just make sense from a healthcare perspective—it’s a powerful representation of hope in action. By integrating these emerging technologies into our daily lives, we allow hope to guide us, not just in our scientific quests, but in our quest for a healthier, more fulfilling life.
Let’s look at hope IN science the practice, and hope in science the discipline. This first kind of hope is articulated in the OECD’s Frascati Manual, which serves as a framework for defining research activities. According to the Manual, research is “creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge.” That creativity is itself an expression of hope—the hope that out-of-the-box thinking will yield novel solutions.
The manual also delves into the ‘uncertain’ nature of research, an aspect where hope plays a critical role. In a scientific quest, nothing is guaranteed; the uncertainty is what makes the outcomes valuable. This inherent uncertainty is a playground for hope, providing the emotional and intellectual sustenance to navigate the maze of complexities. And, let’s not forget the ‘systematic’ part. Science requires structured methods, reproducibility, and a solid framework—elements that echo the action-oriented characteristics of hope, harmonising with the ‘planning’ and ‘strategy’ that we talked about earlier.
Now, let’s consider the second domain: the hope that exists within the scientific community. Unlike the broad societal view of science as a harbinger of future solutions, this perspective is more intimate. Hope here is a daily elixir that energises the scientist through the rigors of data collection, the frustrations of experiment failures, and the complex pathways to publishing. It is lived out in the research and development activities along North Tce and in industry parks spread across the country. This is where the Frascati Manual’s notion of research as ‘transferable’ and ‘reproducible’ resonates. For a scientist, hope is not just an abstract concept; it’s the very practical optimism that the hours in the lab, the failures, and the breakthroughs all accumulate into valuable, transferable knowledge.
While these two domains may appear disparate—one macroscopic and the other microscopic—they are interwoven through the fabric of hope. They serve as the yin and yang of scientific endeavour, mutually reinforcing and intrinsically dependent. Hope is integral, not antithetical, to science; it infuses the act of research with purpose, from the broad strokes of conceptualising studies to the meticulousness of data analysis.
It’s crucial to recognise that hope in both these domains also aligns with the key terms from the Frascati Manual’s Definition of Research. ‘Novelty’ fuels the hope for ground-breaking discovery, ‘creativity’ fosters the imagination required for scientific innovation, ‘uncertainty’ maintains the thrill and challenge in scientific quests, ‘systematic’ approaches provide the roadmaps for these quests, and ‘transferable/reproducible’ results amplify the impact, turning individual hope into collective progress.
So, as we stand at the crossroads of numerous global challenges, from healthcare to environmental sustainability, it’s imperative to harness the power of hope in science. This is not just a feel-good factor or a philosophical diversion; it’s an operational imperative.
To borrow a concept from physics, hope serves as both particle and wave in the scientific enterprise. As a particle, it’s tangible, guiding specific hypotheses and experiments. As a wave, it’s a broader force field that motivates the scientific community and informs the public perception. By understanding and integrating these dual roles of hope, we empower not only our scientific pursuits but also enrich our collective human experience.
The notion of TRUST serves as the cornerstone upon which hope is constructed. In essence, trust provides the scaffolding that allows hope to rise, giving it shape, stability, and direction. Think of trust as the underpinning of a sturdy building; without it, any structure of hope we try to construct would be unsteady, likely to falter under the weight of uncertainties and challenges.
The relationship between trust and hope can also be imagined through an economic metaphor. If hope is the commodity, then trust is indeed the currency. We invest trust in systems, in institutions, and most fundamentally, in each other. And in return, we hope to receive dividends: social cohesion, scientific advancement, or individual fulfilment. This dynamic is bidirectional. While we place hope as an investment to earn trust, trust also serves as the capital that lets us invest in more significant hopes.
The ” Trusting Australia’s Ability: Review of the Australian Research Council Act 2001″ review I conducted with Prof Margaret Shiel and Prof Susan Dodds, instigated by the Honourable Jason Clare the federal Minister for Education serves as a compelling example of this symbiotic relationship. The review itself was a manifestation of hope: hope for an improved research ecosystem, for better governance, and for more ground-breaking work. However, this hope cannot be operationalised without a foundational layer of trust. The legislation like that of the ARC exists as a system of checks and balances, protocols that are designed to cultivate trust. This trust isn’t solely in the legislation but also in the people and processes that govern its application. Therefore, the legislation essentially trades on a currency of trust, establishing a marketplace where hope can be actively traded, invested, and most importantly, returned with interest.
Contrast this with a system devoid of trust; in such a context, hope would indeed be just luck— a roll of the dice with no assurance of fairness or gain. This is why trust is indispensable. Without trust, hope becomes fragile. With trust, however, hope transforms into a robust vessel, capable of weathering storms and reaching envisioned destinations.
Now, let’s consider another layer: does hope drive trust, or does trust fuel hope? The answer I believe is that it’s a dynamic, almost cyclical, relationship. Hope initiates the cycle; it’s the spark that sets things into motion. You hope for something, so you invest your trust. That invested trust, if validated, generates more hope, which in turn encourages more trust. The cycle is self-sustaining but likely needs that initial seed of hope to get the wheel turning.
Therefore, trust and hope are not just interlinked; they are co-dependent variables in the equation of human interaction and progress. One without the other is like an engine without fuel—static and unproductive. But combined, they form a powerful machine that can propel us forward, both as individuals and as a collective, especially in realms that require rigorous scrutiny and collective contribution, like scientific research.
Now that we’ve unravelled the rich tapestry of hope and trust, let’s explore how these themes resonate within the Australian context, particularly in the areas of STEM education and research.
Starting with education, I was struck by a recent conversation with my daughter, Sophie. When I asked her where hope was taught in her science or maths classes, her response was candid: “Dad, you just have to know stuff.” It made me pause and ponder—are we, as educators, merely teaching the art of knowledge gathering, or are we instilling the skills of knowledge creation?
Knowledge gathering is vital; there’s no denying that. We need a foundation upon which to build our ideas. But it’s the process of knowledge creation that truly embodies hope. The former can be likened to reading a map, while the latter is more akin to navigating uncharted waters. The former is important but passive; the latter is a proactive leap of faith—a jump fuelled by hope and, yes, grounded in trust.
If we want our future scientists, engineers, and educators to be not just consumers but also creators, then hope must become an integral component of our educational fabric. This shift demands a radical rethinking of our pedagogical approaches, demanding time and space for inquiry-based learning, fostering creativity, and nurturing a culture that doesn’t just prize the right answers but also values the courage to ask the right questions. It also challenges us as to how we undertake examination and certification. Is simply writing the correct answer good enough? Perhaps the advent of large language models like chatGTP will accelerate this debate and encourage our collective thinking to a new way of demonstrating key competencies.
Turning now to research, we’ve seen some astounding achievements coming out of Australian labs and institutions. From the invention of the cervical cancer vaccine to pioneering research in quantum computing and the creation of WiFi, the list is both extensive and inspiring. But here’s a challenging question: Are these successes the result of intentional, hope-fuelled systems, or are they merely the by-products of serendipity? Are we benefitting from a culture of hope, or are we just ‘lucky’?
It’s an unsettling question because it cuts to the core of how we view our own scientific narrative. If we dig deep, we’ll find that our present ecosystem is a mix of both. There are certainly areas where planned research agendas have delivered on their promises, and yet, there are also instances where unexpected breakthroughs took us by surprise. Imagine, though, what might be possible if our entire research infrastructure were intentionally hardwired to propagate intentional hope.
This is where constructive collaborative activities of Science and Technology Australia with successive governments have started to bear fruit. Clearly, in Australia we are falling behind other developed countries in our investments and expenditure on research and development. We simply need to do more. But we are clever, we are smart. Simply fuelling the system with more funding doesn’t engineer hope. It fuels luck. Lets be clever. For example, the new $2.4 billion Australian Economic Accelerator program, alongside the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund and other exciting developments like the transformative potential of the newly merged Adelaide University suddenly provide an opportunity to intentionally string together the brilliance of concept creation with the manufacturing and scaling of capability. These initiatives are not just massive injections of funding – or simple organisational restructuring – they are investments in hope. And just like any sound investment, they require a balance between risk and reward. We should not be so averse to risk that we stifle innovation; instead, we should plan for a “headroom of non-linear explosion of hope”. By that, I mean we need to build systems flexible enough to accommodate unforeseen, exponential advancements, without collapsing under the weight of their own complexity.
The promise is enormous. With these coordinated investments, we can tackle grand challenges, from climate change and renewable energy solutions to healthcare innovations that could define the quality of life for millions. These aren’t just research projects; they are embodiments of collective hope, crystallised into actionable goals.
It’s worth stating that we stand at a watershed moment. We have the opportunity to transition from a culture that occasionally stumbles upon innovation to one that systematically generates it. This shift requires a conscious embedding of hope into the bedrock of our educational and research landscapes. Not a naive hope, but a calculated, intentional one—fuelled by trust and propelled by the tireless pursuit of excellence.
In the landscape of Australian scientific innovation, I am going to be rather parochial and suggest that South Australia serves as a central point where innovation and hope can nimbly intertwine, because we know how to do it at scale. For example, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) stands as an example of what intentional hope can achieve. Rooted in the principles of convergence science, headquartered here at the University of Adelaide, the CNBP has been instrumental in orchestrating and transforming concepts into real-world applications across the globe. This isn’t your conventional “bench to bookshelf” model; this is “bench to boardroom” science. Our ambition isn’t only confined to scholarly articles gathering dust on a shelf but extends to delivering market-ready solutions that have a tangible impact on society. During its ongoing tenure, the CNBP has catalysed the creation of 22 startups with a staggering market impact exceeding $517 million. From developing the world’s smallest microscope—a ground-breaking tool that promises to revolutionise brain surgery and the diagnosis of heart disease—to devising meat quality probes that are globally employed to ensure premium protein products, to next-generation IVF technologies for humans and animals, CNBP epitomises how science can be attuned to the needs and demands of end-users, whilst simultaneously breaking ground at the frontiers of fundamental knowledge, AND training the future workforce of academic and industry innovators.
Stemming from these CNBP lessons the drive to diversify our economy and fortify our national interests led to the formation of the Safeguarding Australia through Biotechnology Response and Engagement (SABRE) Alliance that I chair. Inspired by Defence Chief Scientist Prof Tanya Monro’s strategy of accomplishing “More Together,” SABRE embodies a multi-disciplinary approach to solving complex problems. Here, technologies are not developed in isolation but are intentionally complicated to serve multiple sectors—MedTech, AgTech, and Defence Tech. Imagine innovations in livestock wound care finding applications in treating diabetic ulcers or battlefield injuries. Consider the possibility of COVID home tests being repurposed for early animal or plant biosecurity threat identification in regional Australia. SABRE is where silos are broken down, and possibilities are expanded, all while keeping a keen eye on practical applications.
Both CNBP and SABRE are prime examples of “engineering hope in convergent teams.” These initiatives train us to flex our ‘hope muscle’ before a crisis arises. They are testaments to the power of collaborative innovation that places trust not just in ideas but also in systems—systems that are robust, scalable, and agile enough to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world. These are not mere science projects; they are engineered frameworks of hope. They show that when we invest in complex, convergent, and collaborative approaches, we’re not merely dabbling in scientific inquiry; we are fundamentally reshaping the future in ways that exceed our most optimistic expectations.
Importantly, this sees investment in people rather than precincts. If we embody hope this hope is realised through people not the aging architecture that apparently is easier to justify funding. Here, the activities of CNBP and SABRE are attracting international attention and forming key parts of the AUKUS discussions and planning. Whilst pillar 1 of AUKUS will see us purchase defence technology from our UK and US partners – dare I say the buildings, the Pillar 2 activities will see an even larger sharing of the human-focused good will, knowledge, people, technologies and innovative ways we conduct work. This hope-filled program of activities we are perfecting here in Australia is serving as a breakthrough opportunity for the multidecadal deepening of our geopolitical relationships and helping us to “orchestrate AUKUS”.
As we cast our gaze toward the future, it becomes increasingly evident that hope will be the lifeblood of emerging scientific and technological paradigms. I envision a future underpinned by “intentional hope”. Here, intentional hope allows us to engineer systems that allow hope to flourish. These are not piecemeal efforts or isolated initiatives, but mission-scale activities woven intricately from the fabric of discovery research.
Consider, for example, the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence in the hope-enabled healthcare I spoke of previously. One could imagine a mission-scale activity that leverages machine learning algorithms to predict disease outbreaks. This effort could connect virologists, public health experts, data scientists, and policymakers into a single cohesive team. Not just an aimless foray into big data, but an intentional, hope-driven system designed to safeguard public health on a national, or even global, scale. This represents the pinnacle of intentional hope, where discovery research serves as the bedrock for tangible, hope-infused outcomes that serve humanity.
The future I envision also demolishes the unnecessary silos that have long kept STEM, HASS, and the professions from truly synergistic collaborations. Let’s look at climate change—a mammoth challenge that cannot be tackled by scientists or policymakers acting in isolation. This issue calls for Hope-Enabled Systems where climatologists, engineers, economists, sociologists, artists and legal experts come together to create multifaceted solutions. In such a future, an engineer’s blueprint for renewable energy infrastructure is enriched by the sociologist’s understanding of community dynamics and the economist’s insights into market forces, with communication augmented by art created in a myriad of forms. Here, hope is not an abstract concept but a dynamic force that fuels interdisciplinary collaboration towards a sustainable future.
This future also calls for a radical rethinking of our education systems. The T-shaped model of education—deep expertise in a single domain—has served us well but is increasingly inadequate for the complex challenges of the 21st century. Instead, we must strive for the education creating ‘comb-shaped’ individuals—those with deep expertise in multiple fields, all connected by a foundational layer of broad knowledge. Imagine the impact of a medical researcher trained in genomics but also versed in ethics, public policy, and data analytics. Or consider the promise of a civil engineer who understands not just the mechanics of building bridges but the environmental science of the ecosystems they cross, and the sociopolitical implications of connecting communities. This ‘comb-shaped’ model isn’t just an academic exercise; it’s a necessity for a future where challenges are as interconnected as the solutions they require.
This makes our universities of the future home to not only the young school graduate but also the experienced employee seeking to advance their career, and the employer who is seeking to expand their business with new technologies and new markets. This means our education delivery system needs to cater to this diversity of content AND the community it is serving.
In this vision of the future, hope is not just an emotional aspiration but a practical tool. It is a methodological approach to problem-solving, built into the DNA of our educational, research, and professional institutions. It is the catalyst for removing barriers and uniting diverse skill sets in the pursuit of common goals. By intentionally engineering our systems in this way, we make room for hope to flourish—not as a byproduct but as a guiding principle.
Let us commence this journey towards a hope-infused future. A future where silos are dismantled in favour of collaborative ecosystems. A future where our educational systems produce not just experts but polymaths. And most crucially, a future where hope serves as the foundational ethos guiding our collective endeavours in science, technology, and beyond.
In the spirit of hope, I challenge both the scientific community and the general public to make a deliberate shift:
As scientists and researchers, we must continue to evolve from siloed specialisations into multifaceted, interdisciplinary teams. Don’t just focus on your next publication; aim to turn your research into actionable, market-ready solutions and explainable to the general public. Consider how you can integrate a culture of hope into your own institutions and research projects.
As educators, we must transform our classrooms into breeding grounds for hope and innovation. Rethinking curricula to emphasise problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking. Equip students not just to answer questions, but to question answers.
As policymakers, we must recognise that funding is not just about dollars and cents; it’s about investing in hope. Crafting policies that support systemic hope, through fostering innovation, reducing bureaucratic obstacles, and enabling creative, multidisciplinary approaches to problem-solving.
As the general public, we must understand that hope isn’t a passive wish, but an active engagement with the world. Get involved in community-based science programs, educate yourselves about the scientific and social issues that matter, and demand policies that foster a hopeful future.
We all need to start small and think big. Whether it’s participating in a community project or contributing to cutting-edge research, remember that each one of us plays a role in weaving the tapestry of a more hopeful future.
So, let’s embark on this journey with an intentional, collective mindset. Hope and trust can be more than words or abstract notions; they can be the principles that guide us toward a future that we not only envision but actively create. Let’s not just dream of that future — let’s construct it, one hopeful, trust-filled step at a time.