As we approach the 200th anniversary of our founding in 2024, Stephen Van Rensselaer’s original vision of a school to instruct young persons “in the application of science to the common purposes of life” is more relevant than ever.
At the same time, we continuously are reinventing Rensselaer, and strengthening our people, platforms, programs, and partnerships in order to anticipate the future and enable the brilliant men and women who learn and teach here.
Two factors are paramount: Today, new technologies and tools—many of them driven by the volume of data humanity is generating about itself, and by computational advances of all kinds—are offering us tremendous opportunities to understand and to reshape our world.
At the same time, we are challenged by complex and interconnected global issues that leave all of us vulnerable: challenges surrounding our food, water, and energy supplies; human health and the mitigation of disease; a changing climate; the need for a sustainable and resilient infrastructure; national and global security; and the allocation of scarce natural resources.
What is required to address these complex challenges and new opportunities is something I have called “The New Polytechnic”: a new paradigm for teaching, learning, and research—a view of the technological research university as a fresh collaborative endeavor across disciplines, sectors, and global regions. Such a university leads by using advanced technologies to unite a multiplicity of disciplines and perspectives, in order to take on large, multi-faceted challenges.
Guided by The Rensselaer Plan 2024, we are transforming Rensselaer into this vision of The New Polytechnic, and moving to become transformative in three fundamental ways: in the global impact of our research, in our innovative pedagogy, and in the lives of our students.
At Rensselaer, we challenge ourselves with the question, “Why not change the world?” Rensselaer alumni and alumnae have done this throughout our history. As we cross the bridge to our bicentennial, we are readier than ever to improve lives, to advance society, and, indeed, to change the world.
Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D.
Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy
Professor of Engineering Sciences