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Modern science and technology have enabled mankind to advance in spectacular ways. But this progress has also come with a price—to our environment, our societies and our future. We understand that we must act quickly and decisively if we are to change the course toward a sustainable future, but the big question remains: if not this, then what? And how?

While governments and industry grapple with solutions, they look to science to point them in the right direction and to supply a basis for sound decision making. But the standard cause-and-effect approach has so far come up short, leaving us with many more complex questions than actionable answers.

The hallmark of these urgent “wicked problems” is their complexity. They involve interacting systems across multiple scales that quickly frustrate the methods of reductionist, linear science. One thing is clear: the global-scale transformation we seek demands a world-changing science. One that harnesses both the power of our latest technology and centuries of scholarship. A science that capitalizes on the creative human spirit and recognizes that we, and all of life, are all connected – often in ways we never dreamed.

Arizona State University is rising to this challenge. We’re putting our massive size, diversity and game-changing swagger to work to seriously advance a complex adaptive systems approach to solving our most intractable problems. We are rallying our global partners, scoring major grants, engaging students’ passions and collaborating in exciting and surprising ways to create a new story of what is possible.