Out of a wide-ranging and iterative process by the Tufts community emerged five thematic priority research areas that Tufts is uniquely qualified to address during the next five to ten years. These areas include: Climate, Food, Water & Energy; Comparative Global Humanities; Equitable Society; Living Technology; and One Health.
As the world’s population grows and geopolitical powers shift, humanity faces global challenges to protecting the planet as a habitable place for all. These challenges affect both the social order (through migration, economic disparity, and availability of water, natural resources, healthcare, data security) and the natural order (through depletion of non-renewable resources, food waste, climate change). Tufts has the expertise to address these challenges, which lie at the junction of society, natural resources, and our changing ecosystem. The strength of Tufts’ impact will depend on synergies between schools and programs devoted to these concerns from the School of Arts and Sciences, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Friedman School, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, School of Engineering, and School of Medicine.
The research in Comparative Global Humanities examines culture, history, and translation to consider the interdependency of peoples, societies, and economies, both throughout history, and in the current era of globalization. This scholarship requires that we build upon the traditional strengths of humanities – languages, textual interpretation, ethics and values – to rethink society, culture, art, religion, and civilization beyond the national unit that previously organized many studies. Comparative Global Humanities considers the longer history of contacts, exchanges and entanglements that link Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas today, and over the course of world history.
The analysis of inequality and the pursuit if equity are pressing issues today. For example, the richest 1% of the world’s population own just over half of the world’s wealth and have seen twice as much income growth as the bottom half since 1980. Such statistics raise contested questions that require both explanation and assessment from diverse perspectives. Equity is fundamental to many current debates about specific social issues.
Many institutions have created centers devoted to inequality, but they usually emphasize inequality of income or wealth. At Tufts, we will adopt a positive focus on defining and achieving equality instead of merely analyzing inequality. Drawing on Tufts strengths, we will investigate equality from many angles and will devote considerable attention to investigating, assessing, and remedying disparities in health, wealth, and civic engagement both within the US and internationally. The Tufts approach will involve a broad definition of “equity” that encompasses health, voice, and wellbeing as well as wealth and income; a pluralistic debate about what constitutes justice; and attention to how active citizens can improve world’s equity.
Technology is an integral part of our contemporary, connected world: The separation between the human and the machine is shrinking more and more, social media dominates human interaction, and devices are becoming more compact, more integrated with living tissues and the environment, and more capable of complex computation. New materials are bringing computing, sensing, and imaging to the skin and the insides of humans. Data are pervasive and rich in emergent information of diagnostic, social, and logistical importance that allows us to see the invisible, access and transfer information globally, and connect like we never have before. The internet of things and the internet of people are becoming one.
Health was identified as the number one grand challenge Tufts should and could address. Addressing challenges under this theme requires interdisciplinary approaches beyond those currently used. One Health recognizes the importance of the evolutionary and ecological links and interdependencies among humans, animals, and the environment, and creates a research and learning enterprise that integrates human and veterinary medicine in an interactive dynamic of discovery and application.