Harvard Scholars Choose the Word of 2023 – A Multidisciplinary Analysis

In this post:

  • Harvard scholars from diverse disciplines share their word picks for 2023, offering unique perspectives on the year’s essence.
  • Disruption, combustible, resilience, heat, alignment, and hope emerge as key terms, reflecting geopolitical shifts, climate crises, and AI ethics concerns.
  • While some see a world on the brink of chaos, others find resilience and hope, prompting a deeper exploration of the nuanced challenges and opportunities faced in 2023.

In the ever-evolving post-pandemic landscape, where words hold the power to encapsulate the essence of an entire year, Harvard scholars weigh in on the pivotal term that best defines 2023. Amidst varied choices from renowned dictionaries, Harvard faculty members across disciplines share their insights on words that resonate with the complexities and nuances of the year.

Disruption – Upsetting the status quo

Harvard Business School’s Willy Shih, Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration

In the realm of business and global dynamics, Professor Willy Shih emphasizes the significance of “disruption.” From geopolitical shifts to economic transformations and technological advancements, 2023 has been a year marked by unexpected and unsettling changes, challenging the established norms.

Combustible – A world on the edge

Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs, Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Melani Cammett, Director, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs

Describing 2023 as combustible, Professor Melani Cammett paints a vivid picture of physical and political conflagrations. Climate extremes, geopolitical tensions, and societal unrest have turned the world into a metaphorical powder keg. The warmth isn’t just in rising temperatures but also in the heated politics that grip nations worldwide.

Resilience – Finding purpose amidst sorrow

Kari Nadeau holds the position of Chair of the Department of Environmental Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Interim Director of the Harvard Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, and John Rock Professor of Climate and Population Studies.

For Professor Kari Nadeau, the word that stands out is “resilience.” In the face of global challenges, individuals have shown the capacity to be cautiously optimistic and find purpose despite difficulties. Resilience becomes a beacon in a world that has faced sorrow and suffering.

Heat – Beyond the music, a planet on fire

William Hanage is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the associate director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics.

While initially tempted by “Swiftonomics,” Professor William Hanage pivots to “heat” as a defining term for 2023. Beyond the Taylor Swift phenomenon, he points to the scorching realities of a planet on fire—wildfires, heatwaves, and unprecedented temperature records, signaling a climate crisis that demands attention.

Alignment – Navigating the AI ethical landscape

Harvard Medical School’s Marion V. Nelson Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics is Isaac Kohane.

Professor Isaac Kohane introduces “alignment” as a term critical to the AI landscape. In the context of large language models like GPT-4, alignment involves ensuring AI entities align with human values and societal norms. It’s a delicate dance of programming and training to prevent unintended consequences.

The Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences is Steven Pinker.

Steven Pinker expands on the term “alignment” in the realm of AI, expressing concerns about whether AI systems share goals aligned with human values. The potential divergence raises questions about AI’s role as a tool versus an independent agent, touching on broader ethical implications.

Hope – A discipline in the face of despair

At Harvard Divinity School, Stephanie Paulsell occupies the prestigious Susan Shallcross Swartz Professorship, specializing in the Practice of Christian Studies.

In an unexpected twist, Professor Stephanie Paulsell suggests “hope” as the word of the year. Amidst the challenges and limits of hope, she highlights its emergence as a practice—a commitment to the future that binds communities together and encourages a collective turning towards a more optimistic tomorrow.

Harvard scholars’ verdict on 2023 – Decoding a complex year

As we delve into the diverse perspectives of Harvard scholars, the question arises: How does language capture the complexity of a year that has witnessed disruption, combustibility, resilience, heat, alignment, and hope? In a world on the edge, where challenges and opportunities coexist, what word resonates with you? How will the chosen word shape the narrative of 2023 in the collective memory of our global society?

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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