Now that the amount of scientific knowledge has become so large that a single individual cannot hope to encompass more than a fraction of it in the course of a lifetime, the problem of order and economy in learning and the transmission of knowledge becomes of overwhelming importance. A restructuring of knowledge (rather than a unification of knowledge) becomes necessary because of the growth of knowledge itself. The nature of the restructuring which is taking place, and which will have to take place, will be determined by the minimum knowledge (not the maximum) which must be transmitted from generation to generation if the whole knowledge structure is not to disintegrate.
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.