The diversification of scientific knowledge is increasing rapidly as more and more aspects of the material universe and more and more forms of human activity are being investigated in greater and greater depth, within the framework of increasingly rigorous theory building. Fields of specialization (pure and applied sciences, natural and social sciences) now number in the order of a thousand. Interdisciplinarity thus becomes a highly complex process involving a very large number of specialists from essentially different disciplines, and this complexity accentuates the difficult problem of communication which is thus posed. The fragmentation inherent in the growth process will increasingly affect the ability to tackle development problems, for the solution of which will be required an entirely new type of scientist, trained in the methods of global analysis and able to identify the problems and to select techniques by which they can be solved.
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.