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Beyond the ivory tower–in English and Chinese

I am in Atlanta, Georgia, on a quick visit to meet two remarkable people working on global sustainability issues, C.S. Kiang, dean of the new College of Environmental Sciences at Peking University, and Ray Anderson, founder and chairman of Interface. This new work on sustainability, especially with the China connection, is rapidly expanding our networks. One striking development is all the scientists I’m now talking to. But they’re not narrow-minded, stuck-in-the-lab scientists, and they appreciate the contributions from other fields, too. These are people who engage vividly with the world we live in, looking for ways to solve problems and stimulate policy solutions.

I’m reminded of a discussion with a Chinese colleague about the term “ivory tower.” I had explained that one of our business goals is to take important knowledge developed in the academic world–the ivory tower–and bring it into the public sphere, and the policy sphere. He said that the term ivory tower meant the same in Chinese, and I must ask C.S. about this today. In any case, here are a couple of links I grabbed then about the history of the term:

And I see that Jonathan Schwartz mentioned something C.S. said at Davos on his well-known blog; I’m not sure he got the point down accurately, and will check up on that, too.

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