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News & Previews from the World Future Society
December 2005 (Vol. 6, No. 12)


In This Issue:

 Online Learning Increases in U.S.
 No-Till Farming and Greenhouse Gases
Dentists vs. Heart Disease
Drug and Chemical Industries Grow in India
Click of the Month: Future Brief

ONLINE LEARNING INCREASES IN U.S.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. colleges and universities surveyed now offer online courses on the same levels as their face-to-face courses.

In the fall 2004 semester, 2.3 million students enrolled in at least one online course, and the rate of online enrollment is growing faster than overall higher education enrollment, according to the College Board and the Sloan Consortium.

"Online learning is rapidly becoming a mainstream college experience," says Hal Higginbotham, president of Collegeboard.com.

A majority of the chief academic officers surveyed for the study said they view online education as critical to their long-term strategy: It increases enrollment without the need to build additional classrooms, and it gives professors more flexibility.

SOURCE: "Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States, 2005," available from The Sloan Consortium, http://www.sloan-c.org/news/pr/pr051118.asp

NO-TILL FARMING AND GREENHOUSE GASES

Farming techniques that minimize the need for tilling the soil have been promoted as a way to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, since the soil can better store carbon emissions with these methods. But there is a catch.

If not done with care--and the right types of fertilizers--no-till and reduced tillage can actually increase emissions of nitrous oxide, a gas with 300 times the greenhouse potency of carbon dioxide, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers.

No-till farming has many benefits, including reducing erosion of topsoil. The method involves planting new crops directly into unplowed fields, with stalks and other residue of the previous crop left between the rows to help prevent moisture loss and weed growth.

After studying combinations of different tillage methods and different fertilizers, soil scientist Rod Venterea and colleagues conclude that nitrogen fertilizer should be injected more than four inches below the soil surface, beneath the layer of soil most conducive to producing nitrous oxide.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2005/051125.htm

DENTISTS VS. HEART DISEASE

People are more likely to see their dentist regularly than their physician, so dentists could be "in the front lines for identifying patients at risk of coronary heart disease," says Michael Glick, co-author of a new study in The Journal of the American Dental Association.

Some dental patients may object to unrelated medical screenings by their dentists, but many dentists already are increasingly conducting medical history reviews and measuring patients' blood pressure, for instance. Additional "chairside screening" protocols could give dentists the opportunity to identify underlying medical risks that could lead to heart attacks.

Heart attacks are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and cardiovascular diseases accounted for $368 billion in direct and indirect costs in 2004 alone, Glick notes.

"By collecting case histories and conducting a few simple tests, dentists may be able to help reduce these enormous personal and financial costs," says Glick. "Most important, they may be able to help save lives."

SOURCE: Journal of the American Dental Association, http://www.ada.org/public/media/releases/0511_release01.asp

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WFS CONFERENCE WILL SHOWCASE CREATIVE STRATEGIES

The program committee for the World Future Society's 2006 annual meeting is pleased to announce an array of superb speakers recently confirmed, including:

 David M. Walker, comptroller general of the U.S. Government Accountability Office
 Ray Kurzweil, inventor and author of "The Singularity Is Near"
 Ervin Laszlo, founder and president of Club of Budapest International
  Stephanie MacKendrick, president of Canadian Women in Communications
 Donald Bone, science and technology director of Johnson & Johnson
 Deborah Schwab, director of new product development for Blue Shield of California

WorldFuture 2006: Creating Global Strategies for Humanity's Future will be held July 28-30 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

REGISTER BEFORE DECEMBER 30 to save $200:
https://www.wfs.org/2006regform.htm

EXHIBIT AND SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES:
https://www.wfs.org/2006exhibitform.htm or contact Susan Echard, vice president for membership and conference operations, mailto:sechard@wfs.org

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DRUG AND CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES GROW IN INDIA

India may become a leading supplier of skilled labor for the world's pharmaceutical and chemical industries, says a new report.

Already a dominant player in the software industry, India produces thousands of graduates a year with advanced degrees in engineering and the sciences, thus creating an attractive market for outsourcing, according to the report prepared by Purdue University chemical engineering professor Doraiswami Ramkrishna.

Besides the intellectual talent available, India also boasts a large number of pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

India still has a way to go from being a labor-force supplier and manufacturing facility to becoming a major player in the industry on its own, according to chemical engineering professor Kenneth H. Keller of the University of Minnesota. But Indian researchers are now contributing more scientific papers and winning more U.S. patents, establishing a base for future economic growth.

Keller urges U.S. chemical and drug companies to work more closely with partners in India to capitalize on innovation through licensing of Indian patents and strengthening intellectual property rights protection.

SOURCE: Purdue University News Service, http://news.uns.purdue.edu/UNS/html4ever/2005/051109.Ramkrishna.India.html

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GIVE A GIFT THAT'S THOUGHTFUL AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING

Membership in the World Future Society makes not only a thoughtful gift, but also a wise one--a gift that will keep provoking thought all year long.

Insightful articles by industry experts, creative thinkers, and leading intellectuals give you a new way to think about the trends that are shaping your world--and fresh ideas for managing those trends to create the future you hope for.

Ideal for clients, customers, colleagues, teachers, students, friends, family, neighbors, mentors, and protégés, gift memberships are just $49 for the first membership and $39 each for additional recipients.

And if there are full-time students under age 25 on your list, their gift memberships are just $20 each!

GIVE GIFT MEMBERSHIPS NOW: https://www.wfs.org/giftorder.htm
GIVE STUDENT MEMBERSHIPS NOW: https://www.wfs.org/studentgiftorder.htm

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CLICK OF THE MONTH: FUTURE BRIEF
http://www.futurebrief.com

Like a clipping service for futurists, this online publication offers brief stories on important trend areas (Science and Technology, Society and Politics, Conflict and Security), pulled from news sources such as the New York Times, CNN, and Wired.

A free service of New Global Initiatives Inc., a consulting firm based in Bethesda, Maryland, Future Brief also offers commentaries from such futurist thinkers as technology expert Jeff Harrow of The Harrow Group, Moscow-based financial analyst Peter Lavelle, political scientist Sohail Inayatullah of Tamkang University, and Center for Responsible Nanotechnology co-founders Chris Phoenix and Mike Treder.

Polls, event listings, resource links, and other services are also offered on the site. Future Brief describes itself as "an organic, growing resource center" on issues stemming from the convergence of technologies--nanotech, biotech, information, and cognitive sciences.

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FUTURIST UPDATE: News & Previews from the World Future Society is an e-mail newsletter published monthly as a supplement to THE FUTURIST magazine. Copyright © 2005, World Future Society, 7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA. Telephone 1-301-656-8274; e-mail mailto:info@wfs.org; Web site http://www.wfs.org.

Editor: Cindy Wagner 
Assistant Editor: Patrick Tucker

Network Administrator: Jeff Cornish 
Webmaster: Sarah Warner 
Vice President, Membership/Conference Operations:  Susan Echard

To subscribe, send an e-mail message to mailto:majordomo@wfs.org with "subscribe futurist-update" in the BODY of the message.
To unsubscribe or change your e-mail address, send message to Jeff Cornish, mailto:jcornish@wfs.org.


Submit feedback at http://www.wfs.org/fbdec05.htm

The WORLD FUTURE SOCIETY is a nonprofit, nonpartisan scientific and educational association with a global membership. Regular membership in the Society, including a subscription to THE FUTURIST, is $49 per year, or $20 for full-time students under age 25. Professional and Institutional membership programs are also offered; contact Society headquarters for details: http://www.wfs.org

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