Emergent technologies, experiments in bioengineering, increasingly sophisticated manipulations in data science and a shifting climate have produced a highly complex and uncharted “threatscape” that is shaping the 21st century. We need thinking and problem-solving teams that match the complexity of these problems in both diversity and sophistication; our universities are not currently organized to produce them. Traditional silos in education—the majors that provide depth and expertise—are not enough. We need to break ground and break down walls in our approach to higher education. Interdisciplinary teamwork is key. Utah State University’s Center for Anticipatory Intelligence fuses advanced STEM and social science expertise in order to generate innovative solutions to the globe’s thorniest problems. Across three years we have put 90 students representing 35 different majors together to leverage each other’s insights, perspectives, and cognitive skills in order to identify critical threats and design resilience strategies. The result has not been what we expected. It’s been better.
Jeannie Johnson has been a spy, a diplomat, and a cultural adviser for the military. She wishes the U.S. national security enterprise functioned as efficiently in real life as is does in action movies and would love nothing more than a job that consistently requires her to jump out of airplanes. Launching USU’s Center for Anticipatory Intelligence has been an exhilarating adventure – one she shares with an amazing team of faculty and a wildly impressive group of USU’s most innovative students.