Speech-impaired students who are encouraged to “prank” their instructor during a summer camp as a way to teach them cooperation and encourage group communication. The challenges and opportunities societies face in helping the elderly become “wellderly” as longevity grows. Developing novel ways to help bilingual K-12 students succeed in a way that also helps their classmates. Leveraging university research to build and sustain struggling rural communities and farms.
These are some of the topics explored in a new collection of essays by University of Iowa faculty commissioned by the UI Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) and published this month by the UI Press. “As Far as the Eye Can See: The Promises and Perils of Research and Scholarship in the 21st Century,” edited by OVPR Strategic Communication Director Stephen Pradarelli, includes 25 essays by 40 authors and coauthors.
The idea for the 179-page book took shape in late 2016 under former UI Vice President for Research Dan Reed, who accepted a position as senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Utah last July, before the project was completed. He returned to campus Tuesday for a formal launch of the book at the Old Capitol Museum and made remarks along with interim Vice President for Research John Keller.
Reed’s inspiration for the project came from a 2015 publication by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), “The Future Postponed: Why Declining Investment in Basic Research Threatens a U.S. Innovation Deficit”, which included essays illustrating the jeopardy some of the most promising research faced because of funding erosion.
Reed—who launched initiatives at Iowa to help faculty collaborate across disciplines, envision and pursue large-scale research grants, and “translate” their work into compelling and accessible language that non-experts could understand—suggested a different approach. “As Far as the Eye Can See” would celebrate Iowa’s researchers and scholars and provide a platform for sharing what attracted them to their field, why they’ve devoted careers to exploring big questions, and what UI research and scholarship contribute to the world.
“Research and scholarship, especially basic research, is a long game that sometimes leads to major cures and discoveries, like the creation of the Internet, mobile devices, and a plethora of medical treatments that many of us take for granted today,” Reed said. “But sometimes it leads to more and better questions which help lay the groundwork for future breakthroughs. Our job, and one goal of the book, is to help people outside academia better understand and appreciate the value of university research in their lives.”
Keller said the book continues OVPR’s long tradition of providing training and platforms for faculty to share their work in language that is easy for the public to understand.
“We’re grateful our faculty are experts in their field, and technical language plays an important role when they’re communicating and collaborating with colleagues,” Keller said. “For universities to thrive in the 21st century, however, it’s imperative we also become experts in communicating our work to citizens and policymakers to build understanding, trust, and support for discovery and innovation.”
A limited number of copies of the book were printed but there are plans to migrate its content online so it’s more widely available.
The University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research provides researchers and scholars with resources, guidance, and inspiration to secure funding, collaborate, innovate, and forge frontiers of discovery that benefit everyone. More at http://research.uiowa.edu, and on Twitter: @DaretoDiscover.