The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is published by the Union of International Associations (UIA), and since its start in 1972 has now resulted in four hard cover editions, a CD-rom version, and an online version. The UIA states that
the Encyclopedia currently consists of a number of extensive data sets. These are hyperlinked within each other and to each other, as well as to companion data sets — notably that which makes up the Yearbook of International Organizations. This volume profiles the 20,000 international bodies from which the data for the Encyclopedia is largely derived.
Two aspects of the Encyclopedia work by the UIA are of great interest for the study of global problems and global problem solving. The first is the Encyclopedia itself, and its analysis of some 50,000 global problems as represented by the concerns and activities of organisations documented in successive editions of the Yearbook of International Organizations. This is a unique resource in itself.
However for present purposes, the thinking behind the Encyclopedia, its framing and interrogation of the concept of world problems and how they should be perceived and understood, is of even greater value. This is because the methodological comments that have accompanied each edition of the Encyclopedia, authored largely by the project’s director, Anthony Judge, amount to the single most sustained methodological approach to the core issues of global problem attempted to date. This methodological commentary is currently maintained in archival form by Judge on the website of the Union of Intelligible Associations which also provides contextual information on the Encyclopedia initiative and its experiments in visualization and mapping. More recent insights and possibilities regarding this initiative are also indicated in separate sets of documents on problems and strategies.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential deals with seven inter-related projects, each with their own methodological commentary and datasets:
- World Problems Project (methodology)
- Global Strategies and Solutions Project (methodology)
- Integrative Knowledge Project (methodology)
- Human Development Project (methodology)
- Human Values Project (methodology)
- Transformative Approaches Project (methodology)
- Metaphors Project (methodology)
While the projects are in fact both interrelated and relevant to the wider issue of global problem solving as well as global problems, for the present purposes the methodological commentaries on the Encyclopedia initiative constitute an unparalleled exploration of key problems facing any comprehensive approach to the concept of global problems and global problem solving.
Note: The original commentaries are lengthy and, in places, demanding of the reader. By late 2008, Judge with Nadia McLaren, the principal editor for many years at UIA of the Encyclopedia, will have re-presented these explanatory commentaries for the Nautilus Institute Global Problem Solving project in a more accessible and integrated form, which will be mounted on this site. As an interim measure checklists are provided here of the original explanatory commentaries on problems, strategies and the Encyclopedia initiative, as a major contribution to the manifold task of conceptualising the field of global problems and global problem solving.