Block I Illinois Library Illinois Open Publishing Network

Introduction

Kevin Hamilton

crushed aluminum can from conference poster

In 1967, for the University of Illinois’ 100th anniversary, President David D. Henry looked forward to the coming century of service. Addressing the state legislature, Henry observed that “our strength in the future, as in the past, is our role as a people’s university.” He went on to identify “a commitment to serve democracy” as the primary source of continuity through the first hundred years and outlined a need for continued address of “the problems of our cities, of water and air pollution, of disease and health care, of family sustenance and decent family living conditions, and of equality of individual opportunity for education and employment as means to human dignity.”

With the university halfway through its second century, the 2018 conference described in this volume convened experts in these and other areas critical to human individual and collective well-being to ask, “What does it mean for research to serve the public good in the 21st century?” Echoing concerns prevalent on this campus fifty years ago regarding social justice, resource conservation, ethics of technology, and human health, this sesquicentennial event gathered Illinois faculty, staff, and distinguished guests to address the following topics:

  • Advancing Food–Energy–Water System Resilience Through a Regional Resource Recovery Network
  • Death by Policing: Race, State Violence, and the Possibility of Justice
  • Humanities and Public Life
  • Revolutionizing Brain Plasticity Through Advanced Science, Engineering, and Medicine
  • Technocultural Futurisms: Code, Hack, Move
  • Uniting Infection Biology for One Health

The conference’s organizing committee selected these topics through a competitive call for proposed symposia. Of the 25 submissions, the six selected represented the broadest sweep of campus interests and a compelling collection of efforts bringing interdisciplinary approaches to matters of great public concern.

The present volume commemorates the conference through critical reports commissioned from outstanding undergraduate and graduate students at work and study in the topics at hand.

Conference Planning Committee

Kevin Hamilton, Chair
Aron K. Barbey
Antoinette Burton
Ximing Cai
Leon Decosta Dash
Christopher Roy Higgins
Jonathan Xavier Inda
Susan Koshy
Brian Pianfetti
Anke Pinkert
Rebecca Lee Smith
Jonathan Sweedler
Deborah Thurston