Children in secondary schools in some countries are required to select subjects in which they wish to specialize. The grades they obtain in those subjects may be a major factor determining the courses open to them at university. The movement is therefore from early specialization into continued study of the same subject. A change of subject leads to lost time required to gain the necessary grounding. Teaching of particular subjects is largely in the hands of specialists, whose success is often measured by the number of specialists they can produce. A vicious circle therefore exists whereby specialists create more specialists, with little attempt to supply any broad grounding from which the student could develop into other interests. The greater the degree of specialization, the greater the risk that the knowledge gained at university will date rapidly, so that the graduate may well find himself at a disadvantage in his career advancement when competing with graduates who left university at a later date. The specialization itself may then not correspond to the needs of society to the same extent as when the person left university.
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.