Research relating to the publication the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential represents some of the most progressive and innovative work conducted at the UIA. The Encyclopedia is the result of an ambitious effort, since 1972, to collect and present information on the problems humanity is confronted with, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies.
It is a response to the fact that many institutions are trapped in inadequate policy metaphors. The Encyclopedia places emphasis on the potential of new metaphors for governance as a major unexplored resource to enable paradigm shifts, and offers radically different perspectives to policy-makers, social researchers and those concerned with development strategy. By focusing on both problems and strategies, as well as constructive and destructive values, it endeavours to transcend the usual polarization of issues and responses to them. The Encyclopedia thus encourages the discovery of a new conceptual dynamic for understanding and action, sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and paradigms by which people are separated - both from each other and from a promising future.
This research currently consists of a number of extensive data sets, hyperlinked within each other and to each other, as well as to companion data sets which make up the Yearbook of International Organizations. Research on the Encyclopedia is also linked to the related UIA research on Alternative Representations of Information (especially Information Visualisation and Sonorification) including new ways of visualizing complex networks of such relationships. All information relating to the Encyclopedia is available for free as one of our online databases.