The Times We Live In
May you live in interesting times.
We live in the Age of Biology and Biotechnology when the humanity relies on the scientific and technological progress in life sciences to fight against global challenges, such as depletion of resources, food scarcity, climate change and old and new diseases.
In order to tackle these problems, highly qualified professionals are needed – professionals with strong knowledge, adequate skills, and flexible disposition, and on top equipped with digital skills that are a necessary element in every human endeavor of today.
Thus, the humanity will depend on teachers and tutors in the higher educational system in their complex roles as problem settlers, consultants, and analysts. The new-century education is a collaborative process – the educators in collaboration with the students, are the ones that shape the assessment, diagnose student’s learning needs, and mediate learner experiences through the creation, discovery and adaptation of the training content.
WHAT IS BIOTECHNOLOGY?
Biotechnology is a broad range of technologies that:
- Employ living organisms or parts of them to make other products: drugs and therapeutics, nutritional compounds, environmentally friendly chemicals and materials, biofuels, and novel functional materials.
- Can be employed to degrade toxic or harmful chemicals and agents to solve environmental problems.
- May help address many global problems, such as climate change, aging society, food security, energy security and spread of infectious diseases.
- Play an increasingly important role in our everyday life.
- Is used in healthcare, agriculture and industry to meet life’s greatest needs.
- Offer enormous benefits but also present risks and challenges that have to be addressed through dialogue among stakeholders including policy makers, experts, the public, and NGOs.
THE TRANSFORMING POTENTIAL OF ICT
In the last decades, information and communication technologies (ICT) have successfully transformed many fields of the human activity:
- The education: the ways students learn, act, react, and perform; and the ways educators teach, train, and assess;
- The industry: how companies research, plan, produce, interact, market, and distribute; and how customers reach for, choose, and buy;
- The job market: the channels employers use to seek, advertise job offers and recruit; and the channels employees use to search, self-promote, and accept a job offer.
- The everyday life: the ways people eat, move, drive, play, interact; and how people choose, produce, entertain.
- The environment: the ways the humanity explores, employs, saves and sustains natural resources.
BIOTECHNOLOGY AND ICT: THE OPPORTUNITIES
- ICT are embedded into many new biotechnological processes, products, etc.
- Biotechnology and ICT may help reduce and prevent the negative impacts on the environment and health in the future.
- Biotechnology and ICT provide support to the sustainable technology development.
…AND THE CHALLENGES
- A shortage of highly qualified bioinformaticians.
- Inadequate knowledge of informatics/maths by biologists.
- Ineffective understanding of the end use of biology and biotechnology data by mathematicians and software engineers.
- Competence gap between computer science and biological sciences.