Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

University receives $7.45 million gift to expand global forecasting program

DU’s Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS) has received a $7.45 million gift from investor-philanthropist Frederick Pardee to support and expand the school’s International Futures program. 

The gift will be used to create the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures at GSIS, funding its endowment and operating costs from 2008 through 2012. The center will be located in the $500,000 Frederick S. Pardee Pavilion, to be constructed within GSIS.

“This is a truly important gift to the University that will benefit the entire academic community and a host of governments, NGOs and businesses that use our International Futures program to support planning and strategy building,” says Chancellor Robert Coombe. “The growth of this work at DU may well have tremendous consequences for all of us.”  

Developed by GSIS Professor Barry Hughes, International Futures is a sophisticated computer modeling system that can help forecast long-term global changes and trends in demographics, economics, the environment and international politics. The model is used by the European Commission, United States National Intelligence Council and United Nations Environmental Programme, among others.

International Futures uses data compiled since 1960 from 182 countries with hundreds of variables ranging from fertility and mortality patterns to global poverty levels, grain yields and processes of democratization. Although similar forecast models have been used almost exclusively by governments and corporations, Hughes created his so it could be used by the general public. In recent years, Pardee has been the project’s primary supporter.

“Thanks to Fred Pardee’s generous gift, we will be able to use the International Futures model and the analysis it provides to support the global community in its efforts to improve the human condition,” says Hughes. “The Pardee Center will put this work on an even faster track and ensure its long-term viability.

The center will serve as a world source of research, analysis and education in the field of International Futures. It will provide new opportunities for conferences, collaborative working groups and specialized publications. Among them will be a series of annual volumes by the International Futures project team on Patterns of Potential Human Progress. The reports, extensively documenting the forecasting tools and their use, are patterned after the Human Development Reports (HDRs) of the United Nations Development Programme. The first, Reducing Global Poverty, is expected to come out next year.

“Thinking into the future is one of the most important things we can do,” Pardee says. “Barry Hughes’ International Futures tool is probably the best around to create scenarios of where our world and its various multinational regions are likely to be headed over the next half century or more.” 

A Massachusetts native who evolved to global futurist, Pardee was a systems analyst for the RAND Corporation and later became a successful real estate investor. His philanthropy has established the RAND Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition, as well as the Pardee Center for Study of the Longer-Range Future and Pardee Management Library, both at Boston University. Pardee donated $10 million in 2003 to what is now the Frederick S. Pardee RAND Graduate School. 

GSIS Dean Tom Farer says DU’s new center will help the school become internationally recognized. “It’s commonplace in ‘dean talk’ to claim a program is unique or the best in the country,” he says. “But in this instance we can say without exaggeration that the new Pardee Center will be the finest institution of its kind among American universities and will have few peers elsewhere in the world. We owe this, of course, to the pioneering work of Barry Hughes and the generosity and wisdom of Frederick Pardee.”

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