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Frontiers of the Mind in the Twenty-First Century

Following the pattern set by the St. Louis Exposition in 1904 (the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase), the Library convened distinguished scholars to examine the seminal events during the twentieth century in twenty-four fields of knowledge and to suggest the greatest challenges that lie ahead in the twenty-first century.

Three fields were grouped together in a session for the purposes of presentation and discussion. Each session was chaired by a scholar-administrator who presided over the discussion. The sessions comprised: 1. Cosmology, Physics, and Mathematics; 2. History and Politics, History and Society, and Political Philosophy; 3. Genetics, Neuroscience, and Psychology; 4. Religion, Canonical Texts, and Moral Philosophy; 5. Geology, Oceans and Atmosphere, Sustainability; 6. Semiotics, Music, and Poetry; 7. Economics, Sociology and Anthropology; 8. Cities, Computer Science and Communication, and International Relations.

In keeping with the Library's mission to build a universal collection in all subjects, the conference ranged across many of the fields of knowledge that have changed fundamentally or developed almost entirely during the twentieth century. Linkages among the fields were supplied by the crucial nature of mathematics in describing large scale, repetitive phenomena, by the presence of biological processes and metaphors in much of science at the end of the century, and by the renewed appreciation of the significance of history in fields from Cosmology and Geology to Canonical Texts and Anthropology.

The conference presentations and discussions were cybercast live, and sustained on the Library's Bicentennial Web site for six months. The revised essays will become available as a printed book and perhaps eventually in electronic form.






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