Even if the task of societal learning can be shared amongst the appropriate sectors of society, there is a limit in the ability to establish functional connections between knowledge units and between those so connected. In addition, such systems are, even more so than the telephone, only available to the privileged. However much they spread in industrialized countries, access to them in developing countries will be very limited. If it is argued that such a degree of on-line interconnectedness is not a necessity for all, there is a dynamic discontinuity with those who can only be contacted by post (or unilaterally via the mass media). This disconnection is perceived as a serious gap by those on each side of it and immediately affects the dynamism of the learning process and of its use.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.