The intractable challenges of our age are large and complex. Solutions will be hard won and rarely perfect. In practice, this means recognizing that solutions to Alzheimer’s disease require neuroscience and cultural awareness, that a full grasp of cybersecurity demands grounding in humanist notions of privacy, and that innovation and creativity, once the sole domain of human intelligence, will soon include alternatives provided by artificial intelligence and machine learning. Such are the “wicked problems” of our time. USC will deploy its intellectual capital to tackle these wicked problems. Indeed, the breadth of our disciplinary expertise, and our long history of community service and community-led problem solving, coupled with entrepreneurial, inclusive, and convergent approaches make us uniquely suited to this task.
In the coming years, we will partner with governmental and non-governmental organizations, community partners, philanthropic and private foundations, and all interested parties to address some of the most crucial issues of our time: homelessness, immigration, global pandemics, security, and sustainability, to name just a few. We will invest in interdisciplinary and interschool research centers and institutes that address wicked problems using evidence-based, convergent approaches. We will recruit faculty, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows and residents, volunteers, and graduate and professional students whose current and future talents will impact these areas. We will provide seed funds for research and service projects that carry high risk but also potential high rewards. We will reimagine our curricula at both the undergraduate and graduate levels so that students are taught to understand the complexity of these problems, how to work in teams to craft innovative solutions, and how to implement those solutions, and we will provide resources to faculty teaching General Education courses so that they can introduce undergraduates firsthand to the challenges facing Los Angeles.