Friday 30 April 2010

Billionaires Put Their Money into Searching for Answers

Last year, as I started work on my book about the futurologist James Martin, he had just pledged to give another $50-million of his own money to the school he had founded at Oxford University, The James Martin 21st Century School, if other benefactors would be willing to match the money. He had already given the school $100-million to get them started.

There were many who were sceptical that he would be able to find enough people willing to take up the challenge and match his offer during a time of apparent economic meltdown.

A couple of nights ago I went to hear him give The Commonwealth Lecture in the Faraday Theatre at the Royal Institution in Albemarle Street and found him bubbling with even more enthusiasm than usual. The pledges were all in and other donors, including such mighty names as George Soros and Bill Gates, had come up with an astonishing $90-million to add to Jim’s promise of $50-million.

The aim of the school is to “foster innovative thinking, deep scholarship and collaborative activity to address the pressing risks and create new opportunities for the 21st Century”.

It’s grand to know that so many people are willing to put their cheque books where their mouths are when it comes to sorting out the problems of the future – if only we could find some political leaders cut from the same cloth.

My book about Jim – currently entitled “The Change Agent – How to Create a Wonderful World” is scheduled for publication by Tonto Books in October.

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