Among the things that make humans such clever animals is our ability to imagine a different future.
That's why UC San Diego has created an innovative academic program called the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination. It's named for the late author of "2001, A Space Odyssey," whose surviving foundation is partnering with UCSD in funding the center.
A Space Odyssey, in fact, is an apt symbol for the center's activities this week. It is currently sponsoring a conference called the Starship Century Symposium.
"We are pleased to create the first and only Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination," said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. "At UC San Diego, innovation plays an integral role in our education and research, so our campus is ideally suited to launch and grow a major center to better understand, enhance and enact the gift of human imagination."
The center's initiatives will span a wide range of disciplines and collaborations to better understand the nature of imagination.
In fact, several well-known science fiction authors have signed up to be a part of the endeavor including UC San Diego alumni Kim Stanley Robinson and David Brin.
"When I saw that the Clarke Foundation was looking to establish a Center for Human Imagination, I knew that UC San Diego would be uniquely qualified to take this on," said UC San Diego's Sheldon Brown, director of the center.
"In our proposal for the center, we brought together connections from all divisions of the campus to show how the subject of imagination could be pursued through an engagement of the arts, literature, sciences, medicine and technology."
Audio from Midday Edition
UC San Diego Opens Center Devoted To Studying Imagination
Seth Lerer, Dean, Arts and Humanities at UC San Diego
Kim Stanley Robinson, Science Fiction Author